This article written by Colonel Tim Collins appeared in today’s Daily Mail. What immense reasoning the Colonel shows.

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Don’t sacrifice this man on the altar of political correctness: COLONEL TIM COLLINS believes the convicted Marine deserves some understanding

The outpouring of fury and demands for the harshest possible sentence for Marine A are all too predictable.
At last the politically correct lobby, which remains blissfully ignorant of the horrendous realities of combat, have a victim. Marine A can expect little support or understanding from them.
Does he deserve understanding? Of course he does. In my view a man who endured the horrors of Afghanistan could well be vulnerable to making a serious error of judgment at a time when all around him the enemy were killing and mutilating prisoners without a second thought.

It was Afghanistan after all, a long way from the salons of Hampstead or Islington or Westminster where the Geneva Convention can be safely debated over ethically-sourced coffee and biscuits.

Marine A experienced a horrific tour of duty during which the Taliban would use the limbs of dead British Marines to decorate trees in order to terrorise and provoke soldiers. Marine A took the bait, committed a crime and now must face the consequences. That is only right.

But if the PC brigade, to whom the very existence of the British Army seems to be an affront, has its way, he will be made an example of and given a far more harsh punishment than he deserves – and that would be very wrong. It is essential that the mitigating circumstances in which the crime was committed are taken into account, for few can appreciate the provocation he will have endured.

When I stood before my men before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and gave my eve-of-battle speech, I told them: ‘If someone surrenders to you, then remember that they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.’

I also cautioned against needless killing, reminding the men of the Royal Irish that those who engaged in it would live with the mark of Cain upon them.

I meant it. I knew what we were heading into. I understood that provocation from the enemy could lead them to over-react and seek revenge. I realised that keeping the balance of duty and adherence to law in the coming maelstrom would be the greatest leadership challenge of my career so far.

I served three tours of duty in the SAS – and they offer a disturbing insight into what the enemy is capable of.
One of my duties was to co-ordinate the arrest of persons indicted for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. These crimes were so horrific that I could not bear to read the indictments – indeed, I read only one in full.

The evidence was not just of murder but of fathers who were made to rape their sons on the false promise that they would be allowed to live, and of little boys of eight being forced to bite the genitals off other children. It so sickened me that I confined my reading to the last page of the indictment document simply to make sure we had a positive ID of the ‘wanted’ man.

So I made that speech in full knowledge of what to expect from Saddam’s cohorts, and I wanted to make sure my men did not take the bait, like Marine A did.

It takes a huge amount of self-control to resist doing so. I was myself accused of a breach of the Geneva Convention when I led the arrest of a Ba’ath Party leader who was planning to murder my Iraqi assistants in Rumyla, Iraq.

No one died. He was arrested. He was later released on a promise of good conduct and in exchange for his weapons cache – 130 rifles. I was accused of punching and ‘pistol-whipping’ him and, yes, he did suffer a small cut to his head. I spent months under the scrutiny of the Army Special Investigations Branch, and was cleared. That episode ended my Army career.

Yet as I sit in my study and reflect on the lives saved by that arrest involving a small cut, and contemplate the spiked brass knuckle-duster this thug used on his victims, I know it was well worth it.

It’s not just the events of my own career that have taught me how much provocation men will stand before they are tempted to break the rules of war.

What turned a Royal Marine to this? We have to remember it was his service on operations on our behalf – and the horrors he faced in the line of duty
There are examples in the history of my regiment. The men of the Ulster Rifles who went ashore on D-Day captured a particular wood after the second attempt. A runner was sent to find our wounded men and prisoners from the first attack.

He found them, lined up – face down, shot in the head, including the popular company commander. The now fawning and co-operative SS prisoners had to be well guarded – but so did the guards.

Nothing better illustrates the malign, morale-sapping meddling of political correctness than the inquiry into Bloody Sunday in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1972, where British soldiers under extreme pressure shot at and killed unarmed protesters.

The Bloody Sunday report cost £250million and could lead to servicemen, now in their 60s and 70s, joining Marine A in prison for the events of 41 years ago. Perhaps the prison authorities could open a special wing for servicemen?

But no one asks Sinn Fein what the IRA did with its prisoners. No one asks the Taliban. Meanwhile, the inquiry into the events of the so-called battle of ‘Danny Boy’ between British soldiers and insurgents in Iraq in 2004 – where 28 insurgents were killed – rumbles on, with Iraqi militants queuing up for compensation.

I can only pray that political correctness will not succeed where so many others have failed – in defeating the British Army. I will never condone what Marine A did but he is no threat to the public, and you will forgive me if I do not join in the demands that he be punished in the most severe way possible.

I do demand, however, that we pause to consider why he did it. What turned a Royal Marine to this? We have to remember it was his service on operations on our behalf – and the horrors he faced in the line of duty.