Troops punished for urination video, and for burning Qurans

U.S. troops involved in the Quran burnings at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan and a video where Marines urinated on Taliban corpses were punished on Monday, according to military officials.

The service members disciplined received “non-judicial” punishments, meaning they will not get jail time but could face a reprimand, loss of rank and denial of re-enlistments or promotions.

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The Marines announced the discipline against three Marines involved in the urination video, and military officials told The Hill the charges against troops involved in the Quran burnings would be released later on Monday.

The U.S. military faced a backlash from the Afghan public after the urination video, Quran burnings and a U.S. soldier killing 16 Afghan civilians all occurred in the first three months of the year.

The Quran burnings, in which U.S. soldiers threw away Qurans to be incinerated at Bagram Air Base, sparked protests across the country that left several dozen Afghans dead.

President Obama apologized over the incident, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for the U.S. troops to face a public trial in Afghanistan, which did not occur.

The decision not to press criminal charges against the troops disciplined could reignite the protests that occurred earlier this year.

The video that showed Marines urinating on Taliban corpses was shot in July 2011, but it became public in January 2012. The military initiated two investigations and determined the video was shot by members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The military did not identify the three Marines who pleaded guilty to their non-judicial punishments. The Marines said in a statement that this is the first set of disciplinary actions surrounding the video, and more are currently under way.

One Marine was cited for urinating on the body of a deceased Taliban soldier and posing with human casualties, another for recording the video incident and posing, and the third was a non-commissioned officer charged with failing to report the incident and making a false statement to Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigator.

The statement suggested that the disciplinary actions could ultimately cost the Marines their jobs in the military, as it noted that non-judicial punishment “becomes a permanent part of the Marine's record with the potential to affect re-enlistment and promotion.”

In the Quran burning case, six soldiers are also facing disciplinary action, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.