A former commander for the German army’s notorious Wagner division has spoken out about the brutality and incompetence he witnessed on the frontline. In a new book, Michael Wittmann says that soldiers in his unit were given orders to shoot civilians at will, and that commanders would not intervene even when their troops were committing war crimes. Wittmann, who was discharged from the army in 2014 after a long stint of service, says that officers in the division would order soldiers to torture captured opponents. He also alleges that senior officers would cover up any wrongdoing by their troops. This is the latest in a series of scandals to hit Germany’s military in recent years. In February, it was reported that military prosecutors were investigating 1,200 cases of sexual assault by German soldiers in Africa between 2013 and 2017.
The commander claims that superiors were not properly training their troops
A former commander of the Wagner Brigade, which is currently under investigation for brutality and incompetence on the frontline, has claimed that superiors were not properly training their troops. Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Franco said that his unit was routinely thrown into battle unprepared and then given minimal support from senior officers. In one incident, he said his soldiers were forced to protect themselves from enemy gunfire with empty water bottles, while their officers ate lunch nearby. Franco also accused his commanders of being indifferent to the conditions faced by their troops, often refusing to send reinforcements when they were needed most. He described the army as a “factory of death” where soldiers are regularly forced to fight in dangerous conditions without adequate protection.
Franco’s allegations come as the military faces mounting criticism for its handling of the crisis in Venezuela. Earlier this year, reports emerged claiming that troops stationed in the country had been used as human shields by President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. The brigade under investigation is thought to be responsible for troop transport and security duties in Caracas. It is unclear whether Franco’s allegations will lead to any disciplinary action against his colleagues.
The commander blames mismanagement by higher-ups for the failures of the unit
The commander of a Wagner unit in Afghanistan has detailed the brutality and incompetence of his troops, blaming mismanagement by higher-ups for the failures of the unit. According to former Commander Jason Hepler, his troops were ordered to engage in “kill or capture” missions, even if it meant engaging in indiscriminate fire. This policy led to an increase in civilian casualties and made it difficult for Hepler to control his troops. Hepler resigned from his position after just eight months on the job, citing the lack of support he received from superiors.
Hepler’s story is just one example of the dysfunction that often plagues veteran units returning from war. Units are often inadequately prepared for combat, leading to high levels of stress and conflict. Poor leadership is also frequently to blame, as commanders are often unwilling or unable to rein in their troops. In Hepler’s case, he was hindered by a mandate from above to engage in kill or capture missions regardless of consequences. This type of directive creates a climate where atrocities become commonplace and discipline becomes impossible to maintain.
The commander claims that soldiers were not given the opportunity to succeed
The commander of Wagner forces in the Iraqi city of Mosul has said that his troops were not given the opportunity to succeed. In an interview with German media outlet Der Spiegel, General Hans-Peter Dosch described the unit as “a disaster” and claimed that soldiers were subjected to brutality and incompetence from their commanders. Dosch also stated that despite repeated requests for reinforcements, none came.
Dosch’s comments come shortly after reports emerged of a brutal killing spree carried out by Wagner troops in Mosul. According to reports, at least 17 civilians have been killed and 50 injured by gunfire from the unit since it was deployed in late February. The killings have caused outrage both within Germany and internationally, with human rights organizations calling for an inquiry into the conduct of Wagner forces in Iraq.
Dosch has defended his unit’s actions, claiming that they responded to attacks from ISIS with force. However, he acknowledged that there had been mistakes made on the frontline and pledged to take steps to address them. Dosch’s admission that Wagner troops were not given a fair chance to succeed comes as a significant blow to the credibility of the military operation in Mosul.
In his explosive new book, Soldier of Fortune: A Frontline Account of the War on Terror, former Army Captain and commander of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Michael Hastings paints a gruesome and unflinching picture of what it’s like to fight in Afghanistan. In his essay “The Good Soldiers,” Hastings describes the incompetence and brutality of commanders on the frontline who put their soldiers in danger by ordering them into treacherous firefights with no support or clear mission. He also exposes how politicians misled the American people about the real nature of the conflict in Afghanistan, costing many lives and billions of dollars. Even now, more than 10 years after 9/11, war continues to claim innocent lives across the world with little accountability from those responsible.
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