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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

To what extent was the My Lai Massacre a result of unquestioning military obedience?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This is exactly what happened. I know from being in the military that you do what you are told, without question, or suffer the consequences.

    U.S. forces planned a major offensive against those hamlets. Colonel Oran K. Henderson urged his officers to "go in there aggressively, close with the enemy and wipe them out for good." Lieutenant-Colonel Frank A. Barker ordered the 1st Battalion commanders to burn the houses, kill the livestock, destroy foodstuffs, and perhaps maybe to close the wells.

    On the eve of the attack, at the Charlie Company briefing, Captain Ernest MedinaErnest MedinaErnest Lou Medina was a Captain in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He was the commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry of the 11th Brigade, Americal Division, the unit responsible for the My Lai Massacre of 1968.-Background:Ernest Medina was born into a...

    informed his men that nearly all the civilian residents of the hamlets in Sơn Mỹ village would have left for the market by 07:00 and that any who remained would be NLF or NLF sympathizers. He was also asked whether the order included the killing of women and children; those present at the briefing later gave different accounts of Medina's response. Some of the company soldiers, including platoon leaders, later testified that the orders as they understood them were to kill all guerrilla and North Vietnamese

    combatants and "suspects" (including women and children, as well as all animals), to burn the village, and pollute the wells. He was also quoted as saying "They're all V.C. now go and get them" and was heard saying "Who is my enemy?" and added "Anybody that was running from us, hiding from us, or appeared to be the enemy. If a man was running, shoot him, sometimes even if a woman with a rifle was running, shoot her"

    Charlie Company was to enter the hamlet, spearheaded by its 1st PlatoonPlatoonA platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing about 30 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organised into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer...

    . The other two companies that made up the task force were to cordon off the village.

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  • Doc
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Love the arm chair quarter back answers. All given by those who have never been in combat and many, given by those with an agenda.

    Unquestioning military obedience? That's almost laughable. Those at the bottom of the dung heap pile (the lower enlisted) almost ALWAYS question the word coming down from on high AND because their vision is so narrow and because they are the ones getting all of the crap details, are dissatisfied.

    It happens because you have political leaders who tie the hands of their military leaders, refusing to allow them a free hand to fight the war to a quick and decisive conclusion (Henry Kissinger). It happens because sometimes, the only way you can convince yourself to pull the trigger is to tell yourself they are less than human. You call them "Zipper Head," "****" and in the current war(s), "Camel Jockey," "Rag Head," "Habbib" or "Hagy."

    You are rarely ever allowed (as civilians) the full and truest picture. Your current leadership has deemed the M-2 .50 cal. machine gun, the 203 grenade launcher and a host of other weapons as "too offensive" for use in Iraq. Civilians have the attention span of a gnat and the leadership knows and plays on this. You are easily distracted and lead around like a bull with a ring through its nose.

    As the first responder so poignantly points out, it happens because of frustration.

    Source(s): Retired military, combat vet..
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  • Jack P
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    To no extent at all. It happened because it was a war and young men were involved in it, frustrated, resentful that it was happening at all and that it kept happening and kept happening without any solutionn in sight. They were there where the rubber met the road, taking fire and unable to do anythng that wouldn't see them taking fire the next day and the next and the next, seeing their friends injured and killed and not seeing any end to it.

    That massacre was the result of lousy leadership at a level that never took credit for putting soldiers into that position.

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  • 1 decade ago

    This happened to the extent that the illegal orders were acted upon, a black soldier refused to open fire from his helicopter to give supporting efforts and indeed threatened to direct his guns upon the terrorist killing the civilians. He was a hero as were the others who failed to open fire. Lt. Calley was initially going to prison but twas pardoned by a conservative President and released. The grandmothers, Grandpas, Children, Teens and Babies are still....dead....

    This happened in BROAD daylight and not during a firefight. It was deliberate and unprovoked and the perpetrators are guilty still and shall have to live with this.

    Disobeying illegal orders is very tough. I know this personally.

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  • 1 decade ago

    very much so.

    It was military obedience applied to a mob mentality.

    Few had the courage to object.

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