I stayed away from the entire Beauchamp affair. I was aware of it, and I had my own opinion, but since I had no way of proving anything one way or the other, I saw no real value to jumping into the fray. However, an experience I had the other day has left me with the feeling I have little choice but to speak up.
As those familiar with the story know, Beauchamp got into trouble over three claims: that he'd made fun of a woman badly scarred by an IED, that he had been present when a soldier placed part of a child's skull on his head and entertained his buddies, and that he had seen a Bradley Fighting Vehicle driver kill numerous dogs without reprisal. At the time, my personal opinion was that the last claim was the least likely, since the positioning of the driver in a BFV would make it difficult to pull off the maneuver Beauchamp described.
I still don't know how much of Beauchamp's tales were accurate and how much was fabricated. Nor do I care. But I am going to relate this because I think that the vilification Beauchamp received was much less because what he said might not be accurate and far more because what he said attacked a particular narrative near and dear to the hearts of many of those who support the war in Iraq.
I had to get back to my FOB the other night. I was away from my unit, so I hitched a ride. The guys in the HMMWV I rode in seemed like normal soldiers: a bit irreverent, sometimes frustrated, but decent guys. Until we passed through a town and spotted three dogs in the middle of the road. Without hesitation, indeed with genuine glee, the driver accelerated and apparently ran down one of the dogs (in the dark, from my position, all I know for sure is that there was a bump). He then got into a vigorous argument with the gunner over whether or not he had hit the dog; the gunner was attempting to deny him 'credit' for the kill. There was no objection from the vehicle commander over any of this...killing a stray dog didn't seem to faze him in the slightest. Granted, this didn't affect the mission one way or the other, and it was a dog and not a person. Still...I felt a bit ill at the thought the vehicle I'd been riding in probably ran over a dog, and the fact this seemed to bring joy to otherwise normal appearing people remains appalling to me.
Does this mean Beauchamp was telling the truth? Nope...I still can't prove that one way or the other. My point in bringing this up is only to note that, whether or not his story was true, soldiers are people, and sometimes people do some pretty unpleasant things. And attacking people who point out that soldiers are people, however cathartic it may be for some, does nothing to change that fact.