Late in the day yesterday I started getting texts from my brother. My nephew was locked down in his barracks at Ft. Hood. By now we all know the rest of the story, of how a soldier named Specialist Ivan Lopez, who had been exhibiting problematic behavior, certainly symptomatic, probably that community especially should have picked up on….went off.
No one in his chain of command picked up on this enough to do anything in time – and by the way, the way the Army works is quite different from civilian employers and this is one example; intervening and dealing with this kind of thing is very much a leader responsibility. It was his leaders’ job all up the line to make sure this problem got identified and resolved, and unfortunately his leaders’ failure to do that is not anomalous.
We can either identify these guys, and take the trouble and shoulder the expense to help these people when it would make a difference, or we can bumble on and then get blindsided when the bill comes due, like we have this time. Pay me now or pay me later. Just remember, if you pay later, you may not like how the interest has piled up.
The inital speculation was that there was some kind of jihadi connection, because there had been warnings and indicators leading up to it. But it is probably going to turn out that this was unconnected, that it was something much more mundane and familiar, soemthing we have seen over and over. In fact this incident follows the “suicide by cop” pattern we are seeing in these shootings.
And here we should mention the professionalism and strength that cop showed in stopping SPC Lopez. He shot himself in the head right in front of her when she confronted him. To quote the post commander:
“It was clearly heroic what she did in that moment in time,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the post’s commander. “She did her job, and she did exactly what we’d expect of a United States Army military police.”
This is the kind of thing that makes me get impatient with most of the discussion around women in the military, so much of it from people whose understanding of war and what is involved in building and maintaining a military effort seems to come only from television or gaming. This soldier did the job assigned to her and her womanhood got in the way not at all. In war and in garrison that is all that matters. Now she can deal with the nightmares and hyper-vigilance she is likely to experience, like everyone else.
SPC Lopez seemed mellow and friendly to everyone, it looked like everything was fine. But it wasn’t. The issue now is why he was able to hide all this so well, and more than that, why he hid it at all. Why did he think he had to? I think we all know the answer to that, and it is the Army’s challenge to undo all the conditioning and enculturation that fed this.
We go along deploying people multiple times, on basically pointless, vague, high-sounding missions, a small, disposable segment of our society; and then when they crack the answer seems to be to reach for some way to blame them or “military culture” instead of the impossible situations the people we elect put them into and then wash their hands of.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016