Photo Flap Shows Military's Digital Generation Gap

Actions aren't new, it's all those cameras: Andrew Exum

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2012 12:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – The US military is dealing with yet another scandal involving soldiers' treatment of enemy remains. These kinds of incidents are nothing new in the annals of war, writes former Army officer Andrew Exum at Bloomberg View. The difference today is the "ubiquitous presence" of camera phones. Combine that with a "generational divide" on technology—the military's senior ranks can be clueless about Twitter, Facebook, etc., while young soldiers can be naive about consequences—and you'll see why the US military has a long-term problem on its hands.

In the meantime, "the importance of small-unit leadership has never been more vital," writes Exum. "If an 18-year-old paratrooper wants to snap a photo of himself with a dead Talib, his 21-year-old team leader has to intervene. And that 21-year-old team leader’s 24-year-old platoon leaders and 32-year-old platoon sergeant have to set clear expectations for what is appropriate." And maybe it's not such a bad thing if these photos show up every now and then in US living rooms, Exum adds. Americans should know what men and women of "shockingly young age" have to confront every day on the battlefield. Click for Exum's full column.

The front page of the Los Angeles Times newspaper with a photograph of US soldiers posing with the remains of suicide bombers.
The front page of the Los Angeles Times newspaper with a photograph of US soldiers posing with the remains of suicide bombers.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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