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Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war?

This is a discussion on Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war? within the Members' Club Room forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; I saw a video on youtube last night. The video was footaged during Iraq war in 2003. In the video, ...

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    aikea is offline New Member
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    Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war?

    I saw a video on youtube last night. The video was footaged during Iraq war in 2003.

    In the video, US marine were storming through a building, few bodies of Iraqi force were laying on the ground. One marine found out that an Iraqi soldier is still alive but pretenting he was dead. The marine said "he is not dead", other marine went close then shot that Iraqi soldier and said "he is, now".

    I am not asking any moral question here. I just wondering, in a mordern warfare is playing possum possible? Pretent you died, then wake up after your enemy left?

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    Jeff Head's Avatar
    Jeff Head is online now Super Moderator
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    Re: Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war?

    Quote Originally Posted by aikea View Post
    I saw a video on youtube last night. The video was footaged during Iraq war in 2003.

    In the video, US marine were storming through a building, few bodies of Iraqi force were laying on the ground. One marine found out that an Iraqi soldier is still alive but pretenting he was dead. The marine said "he is not dead", other marine went close then shot that Iraqi soldier and said "he is, now".

    I am not asking any moral question here. I just wondering, in a mordern warfare is playing possum possible? Pretent you died, then wake up after your enemy left?
    Yes it is possible...in fact, throughout history it has happened quite often in warfare.

    In an environment where enemies can rise up and shoot you from behind, or get away to fight another day, it can be very dangerous to the forces securing an area.

    If any kind of history develops in a conflict where such individuals do kill their adversaries after successfully playing opossum, then those foces generally react strongly to it (to protect themselvesa) by making sure all bodies are dead before they secure an area.

    This was very common in World War II against the Imperial Japanese and, as I say, it not uncommon in warfare in general.

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    adeptitus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war?

    The Geneva Convention and most nation's military law only offers protection for surrendered/POW lawful enemy combatants. If the Iraqi solider had surrendered and was in US captivity, he'd have been protected under POW rules.

    However, if he was playing dead, then he is not a POW. You don't know if he's going to get up and run, shoot you in the back, or toss a grenade at you. If you're the guy who's in the line of fire, you'd probably consider poking the bodies with a bayonet to be a good "insurance".

    In pre-WW2 era when fighting men lined up and marched against each other in massed formations, I think it was probably a lot easier to play dead because of the sheer number of bodies on the ground (or in the trenches). But by the modern era our infantry have all turned into skirmishers, so it's a lot easier for the winning group to confirm their kills before moving on.

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    MrClean is offline New Member
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    Re: Play possum(Pretenting death) during a war?

    I know the video youre talking about and (supposedly) the background is that they had previous incidents with insurgents playing "possum" and in this certain situation the Marine who fired the shot saw the insurgent reaching for his weapon. And this Marine is now or was under some serios scrutiny and could have possibly faced a courtmarshall wherethey might have discharged him, but thats the last I heard of it was that it was still 'pending' or whatever.

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