Sentences handed down for U.S. Marine’s inhumane behavior in Afghanistan

Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola, two U.S. Marines, have been criminally charged for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters on camera. The video was recorded during a counterinsurgency operation in Helmand Province on July 27, 2011, but it was not posted to the internet until January 2012. They were officially charged with “posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties”. There were in fact four Marines shown in the video made in July 2011 in Afghanistan, but only two were identified. In the video, the men were seen urinating on the corpses of three Afghan men while laughing. A voice can be overheard in the background of the video saying, “Have a nice day, buddy.” Three other Marines from the same unit pled guilty in connection with the video. Punishments for those Marines included a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and punitive letters for permanent placement in their personnel records.

After the video appeared on the internet, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos started a criminal investigation to authenticate the video and to determine what factors led to the recording of the video. Both investigations ended in March 2012. Lt. Gen. Richard Mills ordered a further investigation to look into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident, but were not shown in the video. This additional investigation ended in June 2012.

The sergeants referred the Marines to a Special Court Martial. Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said the maximum punishment available under this court is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, and a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.

Are the punishments for these Marines to lenient? What does it say about our country and the people fighting for it? Is the fact that it was videotaped and put on the internet worse than the actual act? The U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called it “deplorable” and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she felt “total dismay” after hearing the story. What should they do about it? What would the United States do if the roles were reversed, and Afghan soldiers did this to our troops?

Source: ABC News




  1. The punishment for these Marines was severe enough. Their actions were unprofessional yes, but there are mitigating circumstances here that are not mentioned. The dead people in the photo were Taliban fighters. The key word here is fighters. A few minutes before this picture was taken these fighters were trying to kill these Marines. Taliban fighters are a battle hardened highly skilled enemy that would have gladly killed all of these young Marines without remorse. These young Marines have been in that combat environment every day for months surrounded by people trying to kill them in a country they are trying to liberate. Their friends have been killed at the hands of these Taliban fighters and yet we rightly hold all Marines to a standard of professionalism that we would expect from a civilian in a non combat zone. Those passing judgment sometimes forget how terrible it is in Afghanistan and that sometimes you forget your manners. Their actions were unprofessional yes, but while the enemy may not have published standards of conduct that are strictly enforced, the Marine Corps is enforcing its standards of professionalism no matter the environment by punishing these Marines despite surviving the Taliban attack, killing the enemy and saving each other’s lives. In terms of severity of punishment, with a reduction in rank and a permanent placement of punitive letters in their records, the careers of those Marines are over. They will never get promoted and will be forced out of the Marine Corps because you only have a certain amount of time to achieve the next rank or you are out. What more does America want? Jail time?

  2. We certainly don’t have to condone the actions of our soldiers, but we must understand- as best we can- the environment in which our Armed Forces serve. This is something that is very difficult to do if you are a civilian. Pierre, thank you for providing a well-needed context to this situation.

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