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John Konrad did literally nothing wrong
Throughout the game, we're shown evidence of grave atrocities committed in the last six months in Dubai, but we are shown very little evidence that Konrad is personally responsible for any of it. My theory: Konrad and the 33rd started trying to keep order through relatively civil, but still martial law. Riggs and his CIA buddies didn't believe this would work, so they began massacring civilians that resisted and blaming it on the 33rd. Riggs isn't afraid the world will learn about KONRAD'S crimes, but his own. Konrad killed himself when he realized that he would be held accountable for the CIA's crimes.
  • Interesting, although it does conflict with a number of the intel items.
    • The intel items, like everything else, are viewed through Walker’s crazy-tinted glasses, so the contradiction isn’t as big a deal as some might think.
  • I agree with the concept but not your denial of his actions. He did nothing wrong because strict martial law was the only way to ration water and save as many people as possible. The men he killed were criminals, looters, and thieves. One of the intel items near the end is a code of conduct for his men. It makes it clear that looting and pillaging will be punished. Konrad did nothing wrong because he desperately tried to save as many as he could. It’s the trolly problem in action. He was just trying to keep as many alive as he could until either it became impossible or real help was sent. The tragic thing is that had Walker done his job correctly, it might have happened

John Konrad is directly related to Joseph Conrad by ancestry
Why then is his name spelled with a K? John decided to legally change the C to a K so that Walker wouldn't get the reference and be Genre Savvy about the themes that the game's story was borrowing from Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. John Conrad was so Genre Savvy that he knew he had to make Walker Wrong Genre Savvy in order to succeed.
  • The name is spelled with a K when it's Polish - which is what Joseph Conrad was, originally. He was born Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He shortened and Anglicised his name when he moved to Britain. At some point, his descendants may have switched it back (perhaps the Colonel's full name is John Teodor Konrad). Korzeniowski was Conrad's last name originally, so it is a pretty big difference - among other things "Josef" would have been pronounced "Yo-seff", more or less. But between Konrad and Conrad? Nope. Conrad's descendants may have just gone with the C - K switches because "Korzeniowski" is kind of a mouthful.
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  • Wait, so John changed his name YEARS before the events of the game, predicting that a seemingly-impossible sandstorm would eventually overtake Dubai, and that he'd be in charge of a military force trying to evacuate any survivors, and that he'd commit atrocities to keep things under control, and that someone he'd eventually save, years after changing his name, but before the disaster in Dubai, would be put in charge of a recon team, but would also be mentally unstable, AND that events would somehow mirror Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now in said unstable Captain's mind and actions, AFTER Konrad committed suicide? You're saying he changed his name, decades earlier, predicting all that, just to throw someone who hadn't yet been born off the track of his own madness... Okay then.

John Konrad is actually Captain Willard from the Vietnam War
Captain Willard stayed with the American Military and eventually ranked up to Colonel, but after many years of service got so depressed from the trauma of having killed Colonel Kurtz so many years earlier that he tried going on many different missions to redeem himself. The events of Spec Ops The Line is just his last in a long line of failures, and now he has gone insane just as Colonel Kurtz, assassinated so many years before, had lost his mind.

The events of Uncharted are a continuation of Walker's delusional fantasy
After he returned home to America Walker was psychologically evaluated and deemed unfit for duty. Ever since then he has been in a mental hospital imagining the events of the Uncharted series, as Nathan Drake is the idealized version of the action hero. Nathan Drake is basically Indiana Jones, with all the associated genius-level knowledge on history, languages, archeology, etc. and cool-headed personality. Add in a little bit of spice from pretty much every action hero from the past 30 or so years and Nathan Drake is the perfect hero, Walker is realizing his fantasy of being a hero behind padded walls. However there is some good news, the ending of Uncharted 3 showed Nathan Drake settling down so this may be symbolic of Walker's hero fantasy settling down as well.

Alternatively, Walker and Nathan Drake are the same people
Officially speaking Nathan Drake doesn't exist, that is just a name that he chose to call himself. The identity of Captain Martin Walker could very well just be a cover identity he created in the U.S Military, the training of the Delta Force is relatively easy for him to adjust to given his athletic ability and stamina as seen in the Uncharted games, for the sake of cover operations where he needs to pose as a Military Officer. Uncharted 3 exposed Nathan Drake to some very heavy hallucinogens that gave him a bad Mind Screw, I say that the events of Spec Ops The Line is Nathan Drake suffering from dissociative disorder as a result of side effects from the drugs he was exposed to, only at the end of the story where he meets Konrad does the illusion finally shatter and he realizes it is time to go home and go back to being Nathan Drake.

Konrad was present in the story, even if not in the flesh
The representation of Konrad as seen by Walker is not a hallucination but rather a ghost. The ghost of Konrad is haunting Walker until he can learn to come to terms with what he has done. Whether Walker decides to become the villain he thought Konrad was or to go home Konrad decides to leave Walker alone after that because he has finally made his choice.
  • Alternatively, Konrad's spirit enters Walker's mind. Perhaps as some kind of mission from beyond the grave, Konrad enables him to hear and see what he wants, and willingly plays the role of the scapegoat at first, until Walker is too broken to deny the truth any longer. At the climax, Konrad takes control of Walker's body and puts the pistol to his head; Walker can allow Konrad to shoot him, or "exorcise" himself of the spirit, in which case Konrad leaves him be.

Heavy Troopers are no more durable than regular soldiers
They only seem that way because Walker is missing due to his progressively unhinged nature and is rationalizing it as superhuman durability. The fact is no nation on earth has that many 8 foot tall soldiers who can absorb multiple direct hits from RPGs. The Heavy shows up frequently in Walker's more obvious hallucinations, culminating in the HaLugoNation. The first heavy also appears in after a horrific white phosphorus bombardment under poor visibility conditions. So rather than absorbing whole clips and multiple grenades, Walker is simply unhinged by something in the Heavy's appearance and can't shoot straight. It's possible that the Afghanistan incident involved an IED and Walker has bad associations with EOD workers. That or it's something we weren't keyed into by the game.
  • Better yet this may be Walker's mind falling prey to the mindset of a generic shooter. Think of all the shooters you have played, how many of them had a "heavy" enemy? Virtually all of them. Walker may very well be imagining the events of his story as if they were a video game, Walker is imaging an "8-foot tall behemoth who can tank RPG rounds" because pretty much every game he has ever played has had them, the fantasy wouldn't be complete without a heavy trooper!

Walker killed the Radioman.
The Radioman hasn't actually snapped from being in the city; unlike the soldiers, he can mostly keep to himself and not directly see the horrible things happening. Walker's state of mind is making the Radioman worse than he sounds when he broadcasts. This is why Lugo suddenly seems to break character in order to flatter the Radioman enough that he'll give them instructions on operating his equipment; Lugo should be more than smart enough to figure that out on his own, like he says he can earlier, especially considering the Radioman setting the mic to broadcast requires him to press all of two buttons. The scene we see of Lugo killing him is Walker filling it in with something different so, as usual, he can blame someone else for his actions.
  • Similar to how in Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mason thought he saw Reznov shoot Steiner when it was actually him? That would have been pretty cool actually. A good way to execute such a revelation would be to maintain the original scene of Lugo shooting the Radioman when you first see it, but when Konrad reveals what actually happened during all of his hallucinations in the ending show Walker pulling the trigger instead. That would add a lot of extra depth to how insane Walker really is.
  • It helps that the transition to the cutscene in which the Radioman is killed is white, which according to Word of God is an indication that Walker's hallucinating or otherwise deceiving himself...

Big Boss is Walker's father
Furthermore, Walker's full name is Martin Peace Walker.
  • He'd have to be a clone, as Big Boss is sterile.
    • Or perhaps Walker was another clone of Big Boss by the Patriots, but like all the others, there was a defect. Walker, although a seemingly perfect soldier, had genes that rendered him initially quite mentally unstable. The defect grew worse and worse over time until it was practically incurable, resulting in Walker's descent into madness.

The ending of Uncharted 3 is what led to Dubai's sand storm
In the ending of Uncharted 3 Ubar, an ancient lost civilization/city collapses into the ground when Drake accidentally causes a chain reaction with just a few bullets. There is a possibility that the massive collapse of such a giant city sent shock waves across the landscape building up a sandstorm of apocalyptic proportions. Dubai isn't the only city that was affected by it but that just so happens to be where the sandstorm came to a standstill; it took so long to reach Dubai because there was so much devastation that the rest of the world has had its hands' full trying to rescue everyone. Consequently, if Nathan Drake really is Walker as stated above, then he is trying to redeem himself by saving Dubai.

The incident in Kabul was a case of friendly fire, required by the circumstances
What makes the White Phosphorus incident so terrible for Walker is the fact that the circumstances required him to use it, the size of the Damned 33rd gathered at the Gate made it impossible to handle them any other way. Those civilians that were burned to death were just a side effect of the fog of war, the circumstances forced his hand. In the same way, I propose that back in Kabul Walker was forced to call in a dangerously close airstrike to save his comrades from being overrun by the enemy, unfortunately, allies and civilians were caught in the crossfire. In the aftermath of this airstrike, Colonel Konrad came onto the scene and rescued Walker who was too injured to continue fighting. When Colonel Konrad said that Captain Walker performed admirably under the circumstances he means that Walker had no other choice but to sacrifice the lives of others in order to save himself and that of his comrades. That is why Walker doesn't like to talk about the incident, he wishes that he had been strong enough to not have to use such tactics, and in the same way he wishes he never had to use the White Phosphorus.

Walker's apparent lampshading of the use of In Medias Res during the Once More, with Clarity! helicopter sequence is referring to his experiences in Kabul.
By this stage, Walker's mind is almost completely gone. Flying through Dubai in the helicopter reminds him of some incident in Afghanistan, and he's so messed up in the head that he can no longer tell the difference between the past and the present. Instructing Adams to fly into the sandstorm might, in his bizarre dream-logic, be an attempt to break out of the apparent "Groundhog Day" Loop he finds himself trapped in. As to why he does not say "we did this already" in the opening of the game might be chalked up to Unreliable Narrator.
  • This is supported by a bit of circumstantial evidence throughout the chapter of helicopter sequence (Chapter 12). Some of Walker's dialogue, if the player stands around, references how the current situation is exactly like Kabul. Then, when Walker destroys the Radioman's tower to send a message to Konrad, one of Walker's teammates asks if they've ever seen anything like that to which Walker replies that Konrad has. A similar incident had occurred in Kabul is plausible based on those pieces of dialogue and Walker's actions.

If for some reason there is an Updated Re-release, the following things will be added:
  • New multiplayer mode: Dodge the white phosphorus!
  • A new ending where you retreat and call for backup upon first encountering hostiles, thereby doing what you were supposed to do.
  • Play as Konrad! You were kind of playing him already.
    • The second idea would singlehandedly resolve roughly 2/3 of the complaints people have about the game's excessive railroading WHILST CONSTANTLY lambasting you for doing the only thing the script allows you to other than "turn off the game".

In the "good" ending, Walker suffered no consequences for what he did.
  • As horrible as it is, he actually ended up accomplishing what the CIA tried to do in the first place: bury the truth. He avoided court-martial and imprisonment by reporting that he aided the efforts of the CIA and succeeded after they failed to carry through the mission. He's a free man, and the only punishment he suffers is his own guilt.
    • Sure Walker broke multiple rules of engagement protocols but his actions would make him look like a saint compared to what the CIA did in Dubai. To publicly court marshal Walker would bring out their misdeeds to the surface. At the very least they'll debrief Walker and tell him to pretend none of what he saw ever happened. At worst they would lock him up in some secret prison if he refused to stay quiet about the affair.
    • There's no way Walker would go to trial anyway, the guy was completely incapable of separating his delusions from reality and is a complete psychological wreck, it would be a media firestorm to persecute someone so obviously suffering severe PTSD.
    • Alternatively, who said that Walker's mission was public in the first place? As far as we are concerned his team was on a secret mission in no-man's land. He could not even be present there for the public and will be court-martialed for his crimes without anyone even learning about them or his existence.
    • The 33rd was out of contact with the Army, hence Walker’s original mission. The CIA personnel are clearly out of contact with Langley and acting on their own as well. Walker is quite literally the only person alive who might have had any idea what happened in Dubai, and he’s demonstrably insane. The US Army probably doesn’t even know what they potentially could charge him with.
    • I think the biggest point is that in the end there's very likely no one left alive to corroborate his account.

At some point, Walker started hallucinating about the Radioman
  • After the water truck incident, the radioman uses the same radio that Konrad is using to talk directly to Walker. He cuts off communication with the team, but neither teammate ever mentions hearing him either, and the Radioman references several things that there is no possible way he could have seen (recall that one line about beating someone to death with a gun?). Notice that after the water incident, the Radioman starts mocking the situation in an increasingly maniacal tone. We do know that to some extent the Radioman is talking to the squad, but it's entirely fitting with Walker's slipping insanity that the Radioman also became a voice in his head.
    • Maybe. In some cases, The Radioman is not playing music when he said things that only Walker could know.

The Gray Fox Team was unaware of Riggs's plan
  • Riggs kept his plan to kill the survivors of the sandstorm secret because he felt that the team wouldn't go along if they knew about it, instead of convincing them it was a simple reconnaissance mission. When Daniels was being interrogated by the 33rd, he claimed the CIA were there simply to search for survivors, and the interrogator thought he sounded truthful, meaning Daniels was a convincing liar, or he honestly believed the Gray Fox team was simply doing reconnaissance.
    • That being said, Gould definitely knew about it. When Riggs tells Walker about his plan, Walker calls him insane, and Riggs observes, "Funny. Gould said the same thing.".
    • Daniels has been dead for quite some time when Walker and his team reach him, so it is entirely possible that Riggs came up with that plan after they lost him - maybe out of desperation?
    • There's a lot of implications that Riggs is just as batshit insane as Walker and more than likely that his team were like Adams and Lugo; following the orders of their commander without question until it was too late.

The Middle East would have never declared war on the US if the truth got out.
  • "American Colonel disobeys orders to save civilians" is not going to be a casus belli against the US; if anything, it's going to lessen anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. The whole idea that the region would go to war if the truth got out was just another excuse by Walker to justify his I Did What I Had to Do attitude and keep his perception of Konrad as the Big Bad in check.
    • Um, it was Riggs, not Walker, who cooked up the "kill the population of Dubai by dehydration plan." Walker, for his part, was unaware of the plan until he had already helped carry it out.
    • Same thing. Even if Walker just an unknowing pawn, Riggs cooked up his genocidal plan most likely under the same form of Sanity Slippage Walker was going through and manages to convince himself he's doing the right thing despite it clearly not.

Walker is a figment of Konrad's imagination, not vice versa
  • This is mostly based on a line in the final confrontation: "This is all in my head." "Are you sure? Maybe it's in mine." Maybe Walker is the representation of Konrad's Villainous Breakdown (or Heroic BSoD, if you prefer). The CIA and the sandstorms destroyed everything he tried to build, and he imagined a human face for it - an unstoppable warrior who was personally responsible for every bad thing that happened in Dubai. The confrontation at the end is him questioning whether he will give up, or still try to be a hero after everything that's happened.
    • Then perhaps the endings mean what happens to Konrad, if he kills Walker then he regains control over himself and is able to lead the remaining 33rd out of Dubai. If he lets Walker kill him he becomes the villain and lets his soldiers die and waits for rescue to come. This is why when Walker is rescued he is wearing Konrad's jacket because it is really Konrad giving in to the personality of Walker.

Lugo and Adams didn't disobey Walker, because they thought they were the ones who were crazy
  • What if Lugo and Adams didn't mutiny because they thought they were the ones who were losing it. The WP incident had a profound effect on all of them and it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume that they were also beginning to lose it in some respect. So when Walker was talking to on the broken radio or making a choice between the two skeletons, they thought that Walker's sanity was still in check and they had no choice but to trust him.

Dubai has literally become a supernatural purgatory, ala Silent Hill.
The conditions that produce the Dubai of this game are, at best, wildly improbable. The eternal sandstorm, the steady descent matched with constant ascent, the unearthly environment of sand-blasted Dubai, the strong implications that this is a Dying Dream or Purgatory and that Walker has "done this before", the tortured psyches and increasingly mad motivations of the 33rd and other characters, the endless supplies of ammunition and still-functional helicopters and trucks in an environment that would destroy their engines quickly, the mysteriously-active electricity whenever it's convenient...

And Dubai is repeatedly equated with Hell. The final confrontation at the Bridge, in particular, is as hellish as anything in the game.

Maybe it's a bit more literal than anyone thinks. Maybe no one inside is leaving - or dying - until they come to grips with their demons. Walker certainly isn't.

  • Along these same lines (Silent Hill certainly shares a lot with it), Dubai could be a Domain of Dread from Ravenloft. The sand replaces the Mists. Konrad/Walker is the Dread Lord, constantly trading places which one is the "hero" and which one is the "villain," when in reality, they're both aspects of the same person repeating their atrocities with themselves as their adversary.

Konrad became a Colonel after killing a rogue officer in the Vietnam War
During the opening sequence, Konrad is shown, amongst all his medals, to have a Vietnam Service Medal. While this might be a reference to the movie Apocalypse Now, which was also was adapted from Heart of Darkness, It's possible that in Vietnam, Konrad was tasked with killing a rogue American officer who retreated into the jungle — just like how Captain Benjamin Willard from the movie had to kill Colonel Kurtz. This would explain why Konrad, seemingly the game's Kurtz expy, has a name similar to Joseph Conrad, the author of the source material, who based the book on his experiences in The Belgian Congo. Konrad had seen the horrors of a man isolated from civilization and driven to madness. The army made him a Colonel for it.
  • So when Konrad sees himself become just like that rogue officer in a sandstorm torn Dubai, he opted to put a bullet in his head.

The Story is all an unreliable flashback
One way to explain all the contradictory or weird spots is that 'The Road Back' is the true ending, and the game is the debriefing Walker gave after recovery; or, if any other ending is true, its what someone coming behind him was able to piece together. After being 'rescued' Walker's sorry mental state causes him to give a garbled, contradictory report of his mission. For example, the "We already did this" during the second helicopter battle was him initially saying the had been flown into Dubai (the opening helo chase), then later remembering that it had actually happened after attacking the radio station. The teleporting Heavy was just him walking into a dark room and spending five minutes blasting at mannequins; later, he insisted "There was someone there! I know it! He took hundreds of bullets, and he seemed to move so fast he was teleporting, but I know it happened!" Heavies, in general, were either vehicles or especially well dug-in enemies, and he just remembers them as un-killable walking tanks. For all we know, the six-month contact gap and apocalyptic sandstorm weren't real, they were just his after-the-fact rationalizations on why he kept going rather than fall back or call for help- Dubai was just hit by a terrorist attack or something else that crippled it for a week or two.
  • Alternatively, Heavy Troopers (bar the teleporting one) were (mostly) real - soldiers, dressed in improvised heavy armor, made from the bomb suits with a removed collar for better vision, spare armor plates, and whatnot, as well as equipped with heavy weapons. Their role before the arrival of protagonists, most likely, was mostly psychologically-oriented - to keep the civilian populace in check, since not a lot of people would be ready to attack such a juggernaut.

The text under the loading screens is what Walker is thinking about.
Sometimes, Walker was thinking about basic military strategies, which explains the tutorial and advice on guns. After the WP incident, he began imagining Adams assuring him this wasn't his fault (You're still a good person), Lugo still freaking out about it (This is all your fault), the Radioman taunting him (How many Americans have you killed today?), Konrad's anger and logic (Do you feel like a Hero yet, There is no difference between what's right and what's necessary), or his own desperate attempts to convince himself he’s in the right (It’s Konrad. He did it. All of it.).

The studio behind this game are fans of Gen Urobuchi's works.

Given the heavy Deconstruction elements, the theme of War Is Hell, and potential comparisons Walker can be compared to (Sayaka Miki and Kiritsugu Emiya), it's a possibility.

Captain Walker is Sayaka Miki.
Dubai is how Sayaka perceives the world after she becomes a witch. Everybody she kills is normal people and the heavy troopers are Puella Magi, Lugo and Adams are meant to represent her two closest friends (Madoka and Hitomi), and John Konrad is the remaining part of Sayaka that remains sane.
  • Then who John Konrad actually represents, if it's the only part of Sayaka that remains sane?

FUBAR difficulty... canonically how hard Walker's ordeal was. Because let's face it, FUBAR is an almost-accurate depiction of what would happen if a three-man squad challenged an entire US Army battalion.
The entire game is a hallucination
Dubai is only hit by a realistic but heavy sandstorm. Walker, who has PTSD nightmares of Kabul, sees it on the news and tries to imagine how he would fare... this is why inconsistencies happen, and how the video game structure is.Walker wants to be a hero, but his cynical tendencies and trauma had hit him and he can not even unwind in his imaginary heroic times. He really has no choice as his mind is already made up.

In the best possible ending, he is back to how he felt after Kabul... but maybe learned a lesson from his imagined tour of duty.