U.S. Military to Train Iraq Troops in Values
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
From NPR News, it's MORNING EDITION. I'm Steve Inskeep.
Again and again in recent days, Americans have learned the name of another Iraqi town. Each time, it's a place where Americans troops allegedly killed unarmed civilians. There's the town of Hamadiya: eight U.S. troops are accused of executing an Iraqi. And the defense lawyer says some could face murder charges.
Then there's the town of Ishaqi. We've been watching videotapes this morning that show Iraqis apparently shot dead. Americans had previously claimed they died in a building collapse. The largest reported incident is in Haditha, where 24 civilians were killed. The investigations prompted the U.S. to say it will retrain its troops.
From Baghdad, Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli told us he wants to emphasize what he calls warrior core values.
Lieutenant General PETER CHIARELLI (U.S. Army): Core Values are those things we do every single day. They include loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
INSKEEP: I suppose when you say personal courage, that even means the courage to restrain yourself when you feel you're in a very hostile environment.
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: That's correct.
INSKEEP: How did some of your troops come to forget that?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Well, I think what you've got to remember is there's 150,000 troops over here and 99.9 percent of them are doing the right thing every day. And when you have life and death situations like we have over here, I don't think there's a commander in the world that wouldn't take the time to go back and reinforce those values that I talked about whenever they had the opportunity to do it.
INSKEEP: Now I know there are a number of investigations going on. Let's talk about the Haditha incident first, in which two-dozen people or so were killed. What is the status of your investigation?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Well, that's something I can't answer, because I'm in the reporting chain for the Haditha investigation. The report has not reached my desk yet. And when it does, I will take the time to read every single word of it and look at the recommendations that are made by the investigating officer, and take the appropriate actions and forward that to my higher headquarters. But because I'm in the reporting chain, that's one thing I can't talk about right now.
INSKEEP: A military spokesman has said that the Haditha incident is not the only incident under investigation. Is that your understanding, that there are other occurrences that may be similar to what happened in Haditha?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: I know of no other investigation that is similar to what's going on in Haditha. One of the things that we do here all the time is, whenever we have the death of an Iraqi or Iraqi civilian, we do the necessary investigation.
INSKEEP: He said three to four other investigations, specifically. This is General Caldwell. You're not familiar with what those other investigations might be?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: There's possibly three to four other ones going on. And there'll probably be three to four other ones down the line. What we're doing with the training we're about to conduct is an attempt to try to ensure that like almost every single one of these investigations that are completed, exonerate the service member from any wrongdoing.
INSKEEP: It is said that the U.S. Marines paid compensation to the families of the victims at Haditha. Is that normal practice, to pay the families?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Well, we pay if, in fact, the situation warrants. That is common practice. And although the investigation has not come to me, that I can confirm that at this time, I can tell you that when we feel that someone has been injured or has been killed because of enemy action, we attempt to -through the payment in solatia - to make amends to the families.
INSKEEP: Solatia, is that an acronym?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: No, it's not an acronym. It's a term that is mid-east and one that is common in this part of the world.
INSKEEP: And it means?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: It means a payment, a death payment, a death gratuity, so to speak. And it's part of life over here.
INSKEEP: Some people will ask if a payment like that amounts to an admission of guilt.
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Well, I would say it does not.
INSKEEP: How could it not? Aren't you acknowledging some responsibility for what happened?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Well, situations arise out on the battlefield where people, in an environment like you have here, find themselves in the crossfire of either side. And when that occurs, we do our part to make amends to the families.
INSKEEP: How much damage do you think has been done to the U.S. image inside Iraq itself because of these allegations?
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Every allegation like this has an impact. And one of the reasons we're doing the refresher training is to take individuals who have all had this training before, but have been put into an environment that very few Americans can possibly understand, where they see things that people should not see on a daily basis, when they have things happen to their buddies that should never happen to anyone - that we need to take the time to sit down and go over those things that make us what we are: a great, great group of service members who are trying to do the right thing.
INSKEEP: General Peter Chiarelli in Baghdad. Thanks very much.
Lt. Gen. CHIARELLI: Appreciate it.
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