The Atlantic

How to Really Honor the Troops

Thousands of soldiers have successfully led combat units without committing atrocities. Pardoning war crimes dishonors them.
Source: Vanessa Gera / AP

Two letters, two numbers.

The email to me, inviting me to dinner, began with two seemingly random letters, followed by two numbers. My assistant was the first one who read the email and was confused.

But I wasn’t. I smiled.

Once upon a time, I didn’t wear any visible rank or insignia, but if a ranger or another special operator saw those two letters and two numbers on a Velcro patch on my sleeve in the middle of the night, or heard those two letters and two numbers over a radio, he wouldn’t have needed to know me personally to know precisely who he was speaking to: an officer, for one, and an officer leading a particular unit. If a firefight started, or

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readScience
A Breakthrough in the Mystery of Why Women Get So Many Autoimmune Diseases
About 65 million years ago, shortly after the time of the dinosaurs, a new critter popped up on the evolutionary scene. This “scampering animal,” as researchers described it, was likely small, ate bugs, and had a furry tail. It looked, according to a
The Atlantic5 min read
Existential Threats on the Campaign Trail
Political discourse has taken on a certain shade of Camus. The term "existential threat" is fertile of late, especially among Democratic presidential hopefuls. It has become a set term in reference to climate change, as used by Governor Jay Inslee an
The Atlantic7 min readPolitics
Los Angeles Is in Crisis. So Why Isn’t It Building More Housing?
A few short months ago, Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, was giving serious consideration to running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Now he finds himself in the midst of a homelessness crisis that could doom his political future.