BAGHDAD, June 1: US forces in Iraq are to receive extra training to promote legal and ethical behaviour, the military said on Thursday, amid a mounting controversy over alleged killings by US Marines in Haditha last year.
“Of the nearly 150,000 Coalition Forces presently in Iraq, 99.9 per cent of them perform their jobs magnificently every day,” Lieutenant-General Peter W. Chiarelli, the number two US general in Iraq, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, there are a few individuals who sometimes choose the wrong path,” Chiarelli said.
In the new training, set to take place over the next 30 days, US troops will receive ‘core warrior values training, highlighting the importance of adhering to legal, moral and ethical standards on the battlefield’.
The training will emphasise “professional military values and the importance of disciplined, professional conduct in combat, Iraqi cultural expectations and the second and third order effects of actions that are contrary to professional military values. As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies,” Chiarelli said.
“The challenge for us is to make sure the actions of a few do not tarnish the good work of the many.”
The announcement came as the Washington Post said a US Army investigation into the alleged killing of 24 civilians at Haditha in western Iraq by US Marines will conclude that false information was given about the case and recommend changes in how American troops are trained.
The Washington Post said the three-month probe, one of two military investigations into the November 19, 2005 incident in Haditha, is expected to be delivered to top commanders by the end of the week.
The controversy sparked by the Haditha incident, described by US President George W. Bush as troubling, comes on the heels of the scandal of abuse by US troops of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail, which dealt a heavy blow to America’s image in Iraq.
NEW RULES: The Iraqi premier on Thursday called for talks with US-led forces about their rules of engagement in the wake of allegations of the US marine rampage in Haditha.
“These forces do not respect the citizens, some of whom have been crushed by tanks and others shot. We must speak with them and fix a definition of the obligations of foreign forces,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said after a cabinet meeting.
Calling the incident an ‘odious crime’ and severe violation of human rights, the cabinet said a commission was being formed to discuss with the occupation forces the aftermath of Haditha.
It also called for investigations ‘to prevent these kinds of actions and better coordination with multinational forces’.
The cabinet also called for compensation to be paid to the family upon the conclusion of the investigation and a formal apology to be made to the Iraqi government.
Maj Gen Thomas Caldwell, a spokesman for the US Army, would not comment on the ongoing investigations into the incident, but expressed his condolences to the families who had lost loved ones.
“This tragic incident is in no way representative of how coalition forces treat Iraqi civilians,” he said. “Anyone found committing violations will be punished as appropriate.” —AFP