Reports from Afghanistan say five U.S. troops are likely to face punishment in connection with the Koran-burning at Bagram air base last week that triggered a spate of riots and the killing of six U.S. military personnel. Wrapping up the probe has been an urgent goal of the U.S. military since it happened. Along with apologies offered by everyone in the chain of command from President Obama on down, the thinking is this also might calm religious fervor.
But five troops (plus an Afghan-American interpreter)? That means one of two things, neither particularly pleasant:
1. That a group of that size was involved in the act of torching the Korans. If true, that suggests it might not have been a mistake.
2. More likely it means that superiors in the chain of command above those responsible for the act may be held accountable. That would be because their subordinates lacked the training they should have had to prevent this from happening.
One thing’s for sure: with the blood of U.S. soldiers on their hands, those involved have already been punished far more than military justice is likely to allow.