April 9th will be an anniversary my community isn't likely to forget any time soon. It's the day Matt Maupin
disappeared in Iraq.
Our trees and lamp posts are adorned with yellow ribbons. The fence around the school district's bus yard (where Mrs. Maupin works) is decorated with tributes to Matt. Electric candles stay turned on year-round here, instead of just at Christmas, to help "light the way home" for Matt. Clermont Yellow Ribbon
, lead by Matt's parents, send care packages to deployed soldiers along with a picture of Matt and a note to "please find our son". Everywhere I go, I'm reminded of Matt. Clermont Yellow Ribbon has a few video productions linked, but this one
gets me every time.
Thing is, that's not the case for the rest of the country. Chances are most of them have forgotten about our missing Soldier. But you know what? I never will. And they wouldn't either if Matt was from their hometown. I often wonder how his parents are getting through it. I wonder if they think about Matt being taken, interrogated, possibly abused and killed. I know they do, I just don't know *what* they are thinking.
I take some comfort knowing that Matt must have gone through survival training through the Army before deployment. I know the Army wanted to give him every opportunity to survive being taken hostage. I was looking into the training the Army does for interrogation and survival when writing this post, and came across the SERE site. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape
. It was developed at the end of the Korean War to provide our military with as many tools as possible to survive being taken as a POW.
I hope Matt went. But I'm also glad he's not a woman going through that program. If you scroll down on the SERE link above (it takes you to Wikipedia), you'll get to a section entitled "Techniques". It lists the skills taught during the training, including "sexual embarrassment/humiliation/rape." WTF????? Sexual embarrassment,humiliation, and rape are taught?
Huh. Wonder how they do that.
Scroll down a little bit further, to "SERE at the US Air Force Academy and the 1995 scandal". Oh great. Sounds like the Zoomie version of Tailhook, right? Of course I had to look into this further.
It sickens me to think that our enlisted personnel would be subjected to sexual humiliation in the name of training. According to AR350-30, "during training, capturing forces or units will treat simulated prisoners EXACTLY according to the Geneva Convention". EXACTLY. So why is it that we prosecute, and convict guards over sexually humiliating and abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib
, yet it's OK to do it to our own enlisted men and women? We're better than this, people.
John Donovan recently provided a link to the SERE Code of Conduct, AR350-30
, which includes a couple of sections on training. It basically states that during training, simulated POW's shall be treated according to the Geneva Convention. How in the HELL did we get from "Geneva Convention" to simulated rape of our men and women?
I have a HUGE problem with this. OK. "problem" is too kind. I'm PISSED. I'm really, really PISSED. Teaching our folks to survive, evade, resist and escape can be done WITHOUT SEXUAL HUMILIATION. It can be simulated WITHOUT really doing it, folks. Trust me. The mental affects of sexual abuse lasts WAY longer than the physical affects. It sickens me (I'm serious- I got sick to my stomach doing the research for this post) to think that our military deemed this treatment "necessary" for proper resistance training.
I'm wondering what the gender split on this post will be. But I'm guessing that the guys will have no problem with the training, other than a simple "it's ugly, but necessary" attitude about it, whereas I think the women will be more outraged. Perhaps it's because we ARE women, and many know what it's like to have your body used, and what it's like to be sexually intimidated by a man.
As I find more articles (or am directed to other articles), I'll post links and thoughts here. I'm trying not to feed the trolls, but, well... I think this post will probably bring them out.
1. NYT article published Nov. 2005, appropriately entitled "Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us"
reaffirms my believe that our soldiers are using SERE techniques on Iraqi detainees. The article focuses more on Gitmo, which I am NOT getting into, and why I hestitate in posting it, but it raises some very valid points about our interrogation techniques and how we are regressing to Communist interrogator tactics.
posted about it in August, 2005. The link he provided is no longer available. Consensus is that SERE sucks, but it worked. However, none of the comments mention any sexual harassment/intimidation techniques- they all focus on other types of physical abuse. (which I have no problem with, by the way- it's the sexual stuff that needs to be left out of this training)
I am obviously in the minority here, but that does not lessen my horror over this so-called "training" tactic, and I'll be honest, I'm really disappointed in a lot of you for not being more upset that we're doing this sort of thing to our own soldiers. I expected more of a gender divide, but there wasn't one. It's more of a "Sis against the world" divide. So be it.
I do not see the value of adding sexual content to SERE training. I *DO* see the value of SERE- just not the sexual content. No amount of training could possibly prepare you, or your fellow soldiers, for that scenario. I was talking to Sean (Doc in the Box) a bit about it, and he said that you can't train for the kind of terror the POW's are subjected to over there- what could prepare you for having your head sawed off by a rusty knife?
That's part of my problem with it. No amount of training will prepare you for something that will most likely never occur anyway- so why do it?
There has been a lot of discussion over SERE vs. Abu Ghraib vs. Gitmo as well. The three are connected, because many of the SERE techniques have been utilized on detainees by our soldiers. If you look at the specific treatment of the Abu Ghraib prisoners, you will see alarming similarities. Gitmo officials have made use of SERE training techniques to interrogate Gitmo detainees.
It's a slippery slope, and I know that stopping the abuse on our end does not mean it will stop on their end, but I know Americans are better than that, and we don't have to sink to their level.