At this point I think everyone is familiar with the OIS that happened in Arizona which involved a personalized weapon with a profane saying on it. The most defining point circulating through the media with out a doubt has to be the fact that this officer installed an after market dust cover that read “You’re fucked!”
Due to the nature of the charges faced by the officer and the fact that the engraving just handed the prosecution half their case is a good and serious reminder to keep your tools clean.
The same incident can happen when employing a knife. You end up wounding or killing someone with a knife as a professional end user and there happens to be an investigation what are they going to find? A blood grooved, spring actuated, crimson eviscerator replete with “Blood makes the grass grow” engraved down the blade?
I’m not going to get into officer liability or how JAG handles war crimes. The main point here is to continually represent your organization and yourself with full knowledge that you will be held accountable at some point.
When I was a young private I wrote “This machine kills commies” on my rifle butt stock. At the time I didn’t think anything of it. I was young, motivated to serve the country and excited to deploy. At the most, I viewed it as just another joke in a long line of off color jokes at my unit.
As representatives of our government and institutions that are older than we are, we have to look beyond ourselves and ask what people who have little knowledge of our organizations or legal structure and IHL, view us and our actions. Generally speaking they will assume the worst.
The military has tried to curb the wear of crusader patches and other culturally insensitive material, but I think wording this as a cultural or religious issue to 20-something infantrymen isn’t a compelling argument. This should be always phrased as a simple issue of legal liability. A subject that is clearly defined with articulated consequences. Cover your six at all times.