AWOLNation's "Sail" plays while Sergeant Gina Elkins sits in a truck in Nevada trying to figure out whether she's allowed to fire on a target in Waziristan. Over at the DOD, a bunch of old white dudes try to do the math: There are, at first blush, four non-combatant adults and one child nearby, and a mosque 110 feet away from the truck she's aiming at. There's a buzzing noise back from the kill algorithm that I think means a giant NO, because the collateral damage is too great for the person in the truck: Their deaths outweigh his. Anyway, she fires.
You can't really tell if she heard back and ignored it, or whether she jumped the gun or what, but from our perspective it seems obvious that she shouldn't fire the two Hellfires, and the truck shouldn't be exploding, and there shouldn't be a man running around on fire, falling to his knees, but either way, that's what happened next.
Sometimes you can get so tied up in your goal that you forget how you're going to get there -- what the damage will be, what variables and factors you're leaving out because there's nobody watching. Ursula K. LeGuin said, "The ends are the means." A helpful rule of thumb. Guards against creepiness, guards against mission creep.
Captain Hicks (!) comes running to Lockhart, Gardner, once Gina Elkins requests extra civilian defense. He's working against mission creep, too: Spreading out the damage so it stops being damage. He's chosen Will and Alicia because they've already done part of the work of breaking into the insanity of military justice, on that cuckold case last year; they're the worst of a bad lot and he's all alone.
Hicks: "12 counts of murder."
L/G: "What did your client do, shoot up the base?"
Hicks: "Sergeant Elkins works in the UAS division. Unmanned Aerial Systems. Drones. Sergeant Elkins is charged with disobeying orders and firing two Hellfire missiles on 12 unarmed citizens in Waziristan, Afghanistan."
Alicia: "And you're defending him?"
It's important that Alicia be the first to make that mistake. Gina is a woman. A woman with a background, a woman who can pay for L/G defense. Alicia, of course, is in from the jump -- she likes Elkins, she defends women -- but Will isn't so sure yet. Not quite yet. He has to take a call first.
The thing about war is that it's all murder, so the words don't mean what we usually think they do. What makes soldiers heroes is that they're willing to take on the burden of state-sanctioned murder; to pay the price so we don't have to pay others. You think combat pay is about the hazard to the soldier, but it's not: It's about being a person who kills. But succumb to mission creep; kill the wrong person, in the wrong way; kill twelve people forty yards from a mosque; watch a man burning on his knees, and suddenly you are a murderer.