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Monday, October 18, 2004

Soldiers Refusing Order

More on the case of the 19 Army Reserve soldiers who refused to make a fuel delivery to northern Iraq last week, citing the poor condition of their vehicles and the extreme danger of the route.

From the NY Times:
The Army has begun an inquiry, and the soldiers could face disciplinary measures, including possible courts-martial. But Jackie Butler, Sergeant Butler's wife, and her family in Jackson say he would not have jeopardized his career and his freedom for something impulsive or unimportant.

The soldiers, many of whom have called home this weekend, said their trucks were unsafe and lacked a proper armed escort, problems that have plagued them since they went to Iraq nine months ago, their relatives said. The time had come for them, for her husband, to act, Ms. Butler said.

"I'm proud that he said 'no,'" Ms. Butler said. "They had complained and complained for months to the chain of command about the equipment and trucks. But nothing was done, so I think he felt he had to take a stand."

Other soldiers completed the mission the platoon turned down, the military kept functioning, and the Army has cast the incident as isolated.

But as the soldiers involved in the refusal in Tallil and others begin to speak out, it is growing more apparent that the military has yet to solve the lack of training, parts and equipment that has riddled the military operation in Iraq from the outset, especially among National Guard and Reserve units.
From the WSWS:
Far from bringing “liberation” and “democracy”, the occupation has turned Iraq into a living hell, in which the function of American soldiers is to intimidate and repress the population. While soldiers in units like the 343rd are risking their lives in unarmoured trucks, companies like Bechtel and KBR are profiteering from multi-billion dollar contracts and are preparing to loot the country’s oil resources.

The mutiny in Tallil will have sent shockwaves through the US political establishment and military command. The turn from a draft army to today’s volunteer army was made following the experience of the Vietnam War, where the growing opposition among American soldiers to being forced to fight a criminal colonial war led to the disintegration of morale and discipline. The rebellious sentiment within the military was a contributing factor in the defeat of US imperialism.

Now, less than 18 months into the occupation of Iraq, a similar process is beginning in the ranks of volunteer units. Every day they face the reality of policing an unpopular occupation. Soldiers are aware that the majority of the American people do not support the war and want the troops brought home.