In a remarkable display of contrition from a military officer who operates far from public visibility, Vice Adm. William McRaven, chief of the Joint Special Operations Command, visited an area in Gardez to apologize personally for the killing of five civilians during a February raid. McRaven brought with him two sheep to make amends. ABC reports:
In the code followed by the southeastern Afghan family so devastated by the February incident, offering two sheep is the equivalent of begging for forgiveness.
And the father — whose has lost two sons, two daughters and one grandchild — accepted McRaven’s apology, according to family members and Afghan investigators.
In this culture the act of asking for forgiveness, almost always done with the gift of sheep, is so strong, the father is now obligated not to take revenge, even though he has told reporters he wanted to become a suicide bomber.