You can lead a soldier to slaughter

But you can’t make him die:

Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here in upstate New York say that morale among US soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed “search and avoid” missions….

“We had units that never called in SIGACTS,” Millard, who monitored highly volatile areas like Baquba, Tikrit and Samarra, told IPS. “When I was there two years ago, there were at least five companies that never had SIGACTS. I think ‘search and avoids’ have been going on there for a long time.”

Millard told IPS “search and avoid” missions continue today across Iraq. “One of my buddies is in Baghdad right now and we email all the time,” he explained, “He just told me that nearly each day they pull into a parking lot, drink soda and shoot at the cans. They pay Iraqi kids to bring them things and spread the word that they are not doing anything and to please just leave them alone.”

That’s certainly one explanation for U.S. combat deaths dropping of late. Of course, the fact that this was written by a gentleman by the name of Dahr Jamail does render it somewhat suspect.

On the other hand, it’s perfectly rational behavior. The administration and military high command isn’t even pretending to have a strategy that might possibly lead to victory, so ensuring his own survival is going to be the highest priority for every soldier with even half a brain. This is one of the many reasons why garrison and policing duties have historically been avoided by combat troop commanders, as they are inherently detrimental to troop discipline, effectiveness and morale.