The French military and government have opened an investigation into what they call “unacceptable” behavior all because of the photo you see above. The outrage comes from the French soldier dressing up as a character from a video game, an “ultra-violent video game” (Modern Warfare 2) according to the French government.
Whats funny is that some US soldiers have been seen wearing skull balaclavas since the beginning of the gulf war. In fact its presence in MW2 was inspired by real life US soldiers. Kotaku said it best, the mask is in Call of Duty because it’s associated with real soldiers, not the other way around.
The photographer who took the photo is surprised by all the controversy, “A helicopter was coming in to land and churning up tremendous dust clouds, instinctively, all the soldiers grabbed their scarfs to avoid getting a mouthful of sand. It was evening, and rays of sunlight were pushing through the trees and into the dust clouds. It was a lovely light. I spotted this soldier wearing a strange scarf and took the photo. At the time, nothing about the scene seemed especially unusual or shocking. The soldier wasn’t posing and there was nothing staged about the image. He was just standing there, protecting his face from the dust, waiting for the chopper to land. No one tried to stop me shooting the picture.”
According to Kotaku, French authorities are now trying to identify the soldier, presumably so they can reprimand/make a scapegoat out of him.