Sgt. 1st Class Walter Taylor’s life collapsed in four interminable seconds in a dusty field in central Afghanistan.
His convoy was reeling from a roadside bomb, his fellow soldiers were engaged in combat with insurgents — and a mysterious black car had just screeched to a stop in the middle of the firefight. Some nine minutes later, a black door opens.
Second 1: A figure dressed in dark, bulky clothing emerges.
Second 2: The figure begins walking toward the trunk.
Second 3: Taylor, with five wounded comrades behind him, sees a thin trigger wire seeming to snake directly toward the black car. Could there be a second bomb in the trunk?
Second 4: Taylor squeezes the trigger on his M-4 carbine. The figure crumples to the dirt.
The figure was not an insurgent, but Dr. Aqilah Hikmat, a 49-year-old mother of four who headed the obstetrics department at the nearby Ghazni provincial hospital. Also dead inside the car were Hikmat’s 18-year-old son and her 16-year-old niece. Hikmat’s husband, in the front seat, was wounded.
First, read the whole article. It’s not entirely black and white whether SFC Taylor is innocent.
We have a moral and legal obligation to minimize casualties among the civilian population in places of war. There’s also the common sense goal of not alienating the very people we’re trying to fight for.
But we as an army and a nation also have an obligation to our soldiers to give them the tools to fight successfully. More than just weapons and radios, that includes Rules of Engagement and command guidance that aid in accomplishing the mission. And most importantly, soldiers have to have faith that their chain of command will support them. I don’t trust the LA Times enough to make a determination from just this article, but it sure hints that SFC Taylor is being thrown under the bus to placate Afghan sensibilities.