Make the Military Justice System Fairer
By Jonathan F. Keiler
An April 2007 Army report criticized the Marines' handling of an incident in Haditha, Iraq, where civilians were shot during a battle in November 2005.1 Subsequently, authorities released a survey indicating that most Soldiers and Marines, in the unlikely event they witnessed potential war crimes, would not report such incidents.2 Critics blame this on inadequate law-of-war training and prescribe more.
But Soldiers and Marines, especially officers, already receive unprecedented amounts of such training, even to the point of briefings by judge advocate officers in the field before tactical operations. Indeed, lawyers are now typically embedded at the battalion level of combat units and offer advice and counsel at the lowest tactical levels. The commander of the Marine battalion involved in the Haditha incident had his own judge advocate general (JAG) on the battalion staff.3