CAMP PENDLETON — The Marine Corps Scout/Sniper community has taken a massive amount of criticism over some recent high profile incidents in Afghanistan. In January, a video surfaced on YouTube showing members of a sniper platoon urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters. Then a platoon photo was obtained which showed another group of snipers, holding a flag bearing a resemblance to the Nazi SS symbol.
The media picked up both stories and hammered at the snipers, even as the Pentagon launched investigations and forced military members through mandatory urination remediation training.
At one brief, held at Camp Pendleton, a civilian facilitator took the Marines through a Powerpoint presentation that showed different scenarios. Instructor James Nelson put together images in his slides and asked for audience participation.
"Ok, now what is this one?" asks Nelson as he points his laser pointer at a porcelain toilet.
"A toilet," the Marines respond in unison. He clicks to the next slide. "And what is this one?"
"Dead Taliban," say the Marines.
"And which one can we piss on?" Nelson asks.
"The toilet," the Marines once again respond. "Well close... make sure you piss in it, not on it! Outstanding job, gents."
Nelson then went on to show different Nazi symbols and asked repeatedly, "Are we allowed to take photos with this one?"
Despite the highly intensive training the Marines received, the media has now picked up on the latest atrocity: Sniper training.
"They shoot people in the face," says syndicated columnist Roger Milburn, "it's absolutely horrendous. I can't believe they actually kill people. It's inhumane."
A variety of sources have confirmed that snipers kill people, including CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post. In the Post story, reporter Jonathon Mosgrove follows Marine snipers through their training at Camp Pendleton.
"Yeah, I couldn't believe it myself," said Mosgrove, "I was actually right there when they were learning how to sight in their high-powered rifles and shoot targets hundreds of yards away. I didn't understand it at the time, but those targets are supposed to be placeholders for people."
Despite the scandal, the Pentagon has adamantly refused to launch an investigation.