French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted Inappropriately When He Wore a 'Call of Duty Scarf'

January 23, 2013 -

The AFP reports (picked up by Polygon) that the French military has issued a statement saying that an unnamed French soldier acted inappropriately when he wore a scarf around his face with a grinning skull similar to the character Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley from Call of Duty.

The soldier was photographed by AFP photographer Issouf Sanogo in central Mali where French troops are currently fighting against terrorist forces in the country. The man apparently donned the scarf to avoid getting blasted in the face from sand by a helicopter coming in for a landing.

"This image is not representative of France's actions in Mali," French military spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard said at a news conference.

The photograph also received a negative response from the French media, with France Metro running the photo with the headline: "Mali: un soldat se croit dans un jeu vidéo" (Mali: a soldier believes he is in a video game). On Twitter, critics called the soldier "shameful," according to Polygon.

Colonel Thierry Burkhard says that the army is working to identify the masked man. Interestingly enough, the skull on the scarf is not actually based on anything in a video game - Call of Duty developers Infinity Ward based the image on real-life soldiers wearing something similar in combat...

Source: AFP by way of Polygon


Comments

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...

I'm just not seeing what the problem is.  Is this some type of uniform violation?  Even if that was a Call of Duty scarf (which it isn't), why would that be a problem?  What if he's a CoD fan?  Would a Mario scarf be an issue too?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...

You need to look at the bigger picture here.

The French are in Mali to kick the Islamic rebels out.  They can't came across to the locals as a bunch of yobbos or savages.  They have to be above that.  They have to be professional.  It's about winning hearts and minds as much as it about fighting the rebels.

So here comes some yahoo, wearing a skull for a mask.  To people who have never seen a computer let alone know what COD is, this guy is crazy and frightening.  Way to win over hearts and minds!  In some African cultures, depictions of the skull is considered sacred as well ... though I don't know if that applies to Mali.  I'd hazard a guess this soldier had no idea as well ... he just didn't think.

I think the connection to the COD character is merely peripheral to the issue.  The issue is making friends with the locals.  That's the cut and thrust of every overseas deployment, as much as it is getting rid of the enemy.

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...

See, now that's a fine reason for a skull scarf to be inappropriate.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...

Unfortunately it is a reason that plays poorly in the press.  Any time I see anything even remotely talking about 'hearts and minds' or talking about the locals as something worth considering in the US press it gets blasted pretty badly.

I used to work in a related industry so it is a 'don't talk too much about it' that is pretty burned in my memory, unfortunatly.

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...

I...this is... I just... I need a tactical facepalm. STAT!

Re: French Military Says Soldier in Mali Acted ...


Had they cited a generic uniform violation, I'd see it. However, citing a video game? Ludicrous.

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