Small Wars Journal

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys

Sun, 09/20/2015 - 4:03pm

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys by Joseph Goldstein, New York Times

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militia to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children...

Read on.



Tue, 09/22/2015 - 2:07pm

Your right, we should leave that sewer pit ASAP!


Sat, 09/26/2015 - 2:01pm

In reply to by slapout9

This issue of abuse of Afghan Boys by the Afghan Army or Police was covered a couple or so years ago in a YouTube report from "Vice" News in a video report titled "This is What Winning Looks Like," if I recall the title correctly. Their reporter and camera crew were permitted to accompany a Marine Major advising the Afghans. It's a rather interesting video.

Regardless, it is their society and Westerners have no right or duty to attempt to change their cultural behaviors -- of some of their members, and we will not succeed if we so attempt.

It is common behavior throughout much of the Middle East. As a well educated (independent minded) Arab Lady once tanslated for me, they (many of their males -- as she rather disparagingly noted), have a saying to the effect that "Women are for babies, boys are for fun." Disturbing by our standards, but their society.

Newspaper / TV reporters are rather naive if they believe those in foreign societies and cultures (especially those where violence is commonplace by our standards) act in a manner similar to ours, or they were in need of a hoped for lasting scandel to vault them to professional fame.

U.S. forces should soon be out of that country, unless a future President elects to send forces back in to rescue, some months after our departure, what will be a collapsing Afghan Army and a Taliban advance.

Robert C. Jones

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 10:35am

In reply to by slapout9

Troubling to be sure, shocking to those who look at this through the lens of modern American culture, but this is one more thing we should add to the very long list of attributes of the society of another that we need not approve of, but have absolutely no right, duty, or interest-justified need to attempt to "fix" (make more acceptable to us).


Mon, 09/21/2015 - 6:32pm

Disturbing to say the least and not a single major media company has picked up the story.