Aug 12, 2002
Four women were killed within six weeks – all by their husbands, who were members of the army’s Special Forces unit, all at Fort Bragg, where the elite Special Forces units are prepared to go to Afghanistan, or to which they return from Afghanistan. Three of the four men had recently come back from fighting there.
Just a coincidence? Maybe, but it’s an awfully strong coincidence. And – as the police often say – in a murder investigation, there are no “coincidences.” Even the head of the Defense Department’s Task Force on Domestic Violence admitted, “This does feel really unusual to have so many partners killed in such a short time in one place.”
Other army officers rushed to downplay any suggestion of a link. The garrison commander at Fort Bragg said he doubted that the deployment to Afghanistan had played a role. He said that military service in many of the more than 30 countries where U.S. troops are deployed is equally stressful – implying that service elsewhere also led to incidents of domestic violence. And it’s true that overall the armed forces has a very high level of domestic violence, with the Special Forces having an especially high level. Moreover, the recorded level of such violence has been on the increase in the armed forces, jumping up almost 60% over the last decade.
So maybe it wasn’t service in Afghanistan, per se, that caused this rush of domestic violence at Fort Bragg – domestic violence made worse by the fact that one of the soldiers had stabbed his wife, only to then set fire to the house, with their children still in it. But certainly the training these soldiers went through in order to go into someone else’s country as an invading force, treating everyone and everything as an enemy could only have played a very big role.
The mother of one of the soldiers who killed his wife was quoted as saying, “I truly in my heart believe that his training was such that if you can’t control it, you kill it.”
This is only the first installment of a story that was told over and over during and after the Viet Nam war. As this dirty war against the Afghan people drags on, there will be more.