MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2010) – Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command commander, stated today that he was very concerned to learn that rifle scopes being used by some troopers deployed within the CENTCOM area have coded numbers referencing Bible verses on them, in addition to the normal markings on the scopes.
“The codes on the scopes are contrary to U.S. Central Command guidance," General Petraeus noted, adding that CENTCOM's strategy emphasizes that cultural and religious sensitivities are important considerations in the conduct of military operations.
“Our mission is to protect the population we’re serving and establish conditions for security, stability, and development, and we strive to do that while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious norms of the populace we are supporting,” Petraeus continued. “We deeply respect the cultures of the host nations and our coalition partners in the Central Command Area of Responsibility.”
The codes were inserted by the private company that manufactures the scopes. The Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command only became aware of these codes in the past several days. The scopes, manufactured by Trijicon, a Michigan-based company, were purchased in 2005 for the United States Marine Corps and Army under an urgent operational need request from battlefield commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trijicon has said the unique coded numbers are used as part of the company’s internal tracking system; however, it announced today that it will stop putting the Biblical references on the rifle scopes and will provide equipment to the Department of Defense to remove the references on some scopes already issued to the military.