Leadership: During OIF, my battalion was operating in the Salah a Din Province

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During OIF, my battalion was operating in the Salah a Din Province. The majority of daily operations were conducted at company level or below. After about 9 months of combat operations, many in the ranks suffered from the fatigue and frustration often associated with combat. As with most operations, we had standard operating procedures (SOPs) that governed search and evidence procedures. This situation will focus on SOPs, circumstances and whether they were handled appropriately from a leadership prospective.

Two platoons, along with the company commander, were conducting a tactical movement to a town within the company’s area of operation. The mission was simple: to conduct a search of the town council building. While moving along the mains supply route, the lead platoon was engaged by an IED that catastrophically damaged the lead HMMWV. Fortunately, no Soldiers were seriously injured. Following the blast, the platoon, accompanied by the company commander secured the immediate area and conducted a search of a house they suspected may have been used by the triggerman. The house was occupied by a middle-aged Iraqi man who denied any wrong doing. The search of his house and yard yielded no contraband or IED materials.

The company commander was angry with the results of the search and he wanted to ensure the Iraqi man would be held responsible for the IED blast. Though no contraband was found, the unit brought the man in for questioning. After questioning the Iraqi man, the platoons, along with the commander returned him to his house and proceeded to conduct another search. Following the search, one of the platoons produced some wire, an AK 47 and excessive amounts of ammunition. The Iraqi male was transported back to the forward operating base, processed and placed in the detention holding area for future transport to the brigade headquarters. All in all, good work by the unit and the company commander. The detainee packet was very thorough, complete with photos, statements, etc.

A few hours later, a member of our S2 section and one of the translators came to see me in my office and reported that the detainee was adamant the contraband (wire, weapon and ammo) was planted in his house by members of the platoon. Although it was not uncommon for detainees to lie, the gut feeling from the translator and Intelligence officer (S2) raised questions and warranted further investigation.

I told the S2 to investigate the incident. The next day, much to my displeasure, I was informed that the company commander ordered a few of his Soldiers to plant the evidence, take pictures and proceed with the detention. How should I handle this?




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