To All Concerned:
My sincere thanks to all who brought to the Army's attention a personal and unsanctioned video showing three Soldiers behaving in an appalling and unacceptable manner toward an injured dog in Iraq. I've read many of your comments on the internet and received letters and e-mails concerning this tape and am grateful, too, that many of you recognized the actions of these three Soldiers are not representative of the US Army.
We continue to carefully examine the video footage. We know from the uniforms and the unit patches the video was shot in the late 2003 to late 2004 timeframe. Again, we know the unit, but have yet to identify the individuals who were present three years ago. We consulted the appropriate experts, who are making inquiries into the matter, along with the unit's present-day leadership. We are trying to determine who is responsible as well as what appropriate actions can and should be taken.
Cruelty to animals is not in keeping with our values-based organization. I ask to you understand this is not at all representative of our Soldiers. In fact, it has been my personal experience in 27 years of service, and in deploying to difficult and challenging environments such as the Balkans in the mid-1990's, and both Afghanistan and Iraq, that American Soldiers - the overwhelming majority of all American Soldiers - are kind to animals, in particular dogs, because they remind us of home. On a personal note, there has always been a canine companion in the Cucolo family. Like the vast majority of my fellow Soldiers, I have soft spot in my heart for all animals.
The airing of this video has had other effects, too. Part of my duties includes training critical communication skills to our senior officers and non-commissioned officers (sergeants) who are headed to key command positions. I now use this video in that training as a tool to show Army leaders the far-reaching impact of the negative acts of a misguided few.
The American Armed Forces remains one the most respected institutions in the United States today. But all of us in uniform know how perishable such a position is: the images of a few undisciplined individuals, the images of heartless acts perpetrated against fellow human beings or helpless animals, can destroy support for our institution and all that we stand for. Every day my fellow Soldiers and their teammates conduct themselves in a manner of which you could be proud. They commit many acts of personal bravery and great sacrifice - sometimes resulting in their wounding or death. I ask all those reading this not to assume those in the video in question are typical of this wonderful group of men and women.
We will continue to pursue this issue and strive to see that this does not happen again.
Proudly serving you,
Brigadier General, US Army
Chief, Public Affairs