Otherwise, the moral high ground, which is rightfully ours in the struggle against our enemies, becomes threatened. There were atrocities in Vietnam – the My Lai massacre foremost among them.Western guards at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq subjected prisoners to cruelties and humiliations.Those who look for opportunities to smear them will think the worst, whether or not charges are eventually laid.
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, has been unyielding in his view that justice must take its course, however embarrassing for the Armed Forces.
‘How else can we claim to hold the moral high ground against the enemy? Throughout the controversy about the Royal Marines’ Sergeant Alexander Blackman, released from prison earlier this year after 1,277 days behind bars after his conviction for the murder of an Afghan insurgent was quashed and downgraded to manslaughter on the basis of combat stress, Sir Nick Carter said that the issue had to be left in the hands of the judges.
But its soldiers cannot be allowed to do their own thing, within or without the law.
True, no wrongdoing has been proved, but this episode emphasises the need to ensure that they act and fight under orders as much as any humble infantry squaddie.
Other duties include combat search and rescue (CSAR), counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, hostage rescue, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining, information operations, peacekeeping, psychological operations, security assistance, and manhunts; other components of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) or other U. government activities may also specialize in these secondary areas.
As special operations units, Special Forces are not necessarily under the command authority of the ground commanders in those countries.
In Iraq, while the US Army thought poorly of the performance of its British allies in the south around Basra, American generals were full of praise for the achievements of SAS hit squads.
Pictured: British troops on duty in Afghanistan Rumours about this have been widespread in the Army for more than a year, causing alarm precisely because the regiment is hailed as representing ‘best of British’.
Critics have complained for many years that the SAS has been allowed to be too much of a ‘private army’, immune from the usual supervision and discipline by the military hierarchy.