Anger in the ranks
06 Jan 2005 01:50 GMT
Anger in the ranks as the “official” death count of U.S. troops in Iraq reaches 1401. A Palestinian view, and U.S. moves to prevent the truth of this war from getting out.
Anger in the ranks and other news as the “official” death count of U.S. troops in Iraq reaches 1401.
U.S. general warns Army Reserve is being 'broken'05 Jan 2005 19:15:16 GMTSource: Reuters
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. Army Reserve, tapped heavily to provide soldiers for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is "degenerating into a 'broken' force" due to dysfunctional military policies, the Army Reserve's chief said in a memo made public on Wednesday.
"I do not wish to sound alarmist. I do wish to send a clear, distinctive signal of deepening concern," Lt. Gen. James Helmly said in a Dec. 20 memo to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.
The Army Reserve is a force of 200,000 part-time soldiers who opted not to sign up for the active-duty Army but can be mobilized from their civilian lives in times of national need. About 52,000 Army Reserve soldiers are on active duty, with 17,000 in Iraq and 2,000 in Afghanistan, the Army said.
The Army Reserve has provided many military police, civil affairs soldiers, medics and truck drivers for the wars.
"While ability to meet the current demands associated with OIF (Operational Iraqi Freedom) and OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan) is of great importance, the Army Reserve is additionally in grave danger of being unable to meet other operational requirements including those in named OPLANS (operational plans) and CONUS (continental United States) emergencies, and is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force," Helmly wrote.
Helmly said military leaders had rebuffed his proposals for change. The memo's purpose was to inform Schoomaker of the Army Reserve's "inability -- under current policies, procedures and practices governing mobilization, training and reserve component manpower management -- to meet mission requirements" for the two wars, Helmly wrote.
In his eight-page memo, first disclosed by the Baltimore Sun, Helmly titled one section "US Army Reserve Readiness Discussion, Past Dysfunctional Practices/Policies."
The Pentagon, maintaining higher-than-expected troop levels after failing to anticipate that a bloody guerrilla war would follow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003, has relied heavily on Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers. These part-time troops comprise about 40 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq.
Some reservists and families have complained about frequent and lengthy tours in war zones, inferior equipment and scant notice before being pressed into service.
Helmly's remarks gave fuel to critics of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who argue that his policies and his resistance to a large increase in the active-duty Army are harming the all-volunteer military.
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island called the memo "deeply disturbing," adding: "By consistently underestimating the number of troops necessary for the successful occupation of Iraq, the administration has placed a tremendous burden on the Army Reserve and created this crisis."
Helmly referred to "potential 'sociological' damage" to the all-volunteer military by paying inducements of $1,000 extra per month to reservists who volunteer to remobilize.
"We must consider the point at which we confuse 'volunteer to become an American Soldier' with 'mercenary,'" Helmly said.
Helmly said Pentagon reluctance to issue orders calling reservists to active duty "in a timely manner" resulted in more than 10,000 reserve soldiers getting as little as three to five days notice before being compelled back into uniform.
A senior Army official said Schoomaker and Army Secretary Francis Harvey were reviewing the memo. "Changes are expected over time, and the Army is already working these issues. The memo just brings it to the forefront," the official said.
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The article below gives a view of Iraq and “America” as seen by Palestinian, Amer Jubran and is well worth a read. jamie
"I am surprised that the forces are not using air-lifting C-130 airplanes to avoid ground transportation, which is costing us about a hundred soldiers every month," said commanding Colonel John Jumpier of the US Air Force during a press conference in December. About 2,000 military convoys must use the Iraqi highways to supply the spread-out US forces with water, food, fuel and other essential supplies. Jumpier said, "It will not be efficient to serve our troops, but it's a chance to save some lives." He added, "I know that there will be an increase in the chances of getting these slow and low altitude flying C-130's shot down, but it's a risk that we should take."
A first look at this statement and one would conclude, correctly, that it is a very dangerous situation on the ground for US occupying forces. Their lack of control inside the cities of Iraq is now matched by their lack of control over the highways between them. When US military leaders have to decide which deadly option to choose from, it reflects a tone of despair where the safety of the troops is no longer an important issue. No one is able to define the mission of the troops in Iraq, or for how long this mission will last. No one at all, including George W. Bush, can explain the US strategy in Iraq. This is because there is no strategy. With the Iraqi resistance raging, it is not clear why the US is occupying this country and why the US is so willing to sacrifice its soldiers there.
While news sources are divided between either concealing or exaggerating the number of those killed in Iraq, other important statistics about US soldiers are forgotten. These statistics give a shocking picture about the truth of what is happening in Iraq. For example, CBS's 60 Minutes reported last fall that 300 soldiers migrated to Canada when they received orders to join their units heading to Iraq. 60 Minutes went on to say that 5,500 US soldiers had deserted for fear of being killed in Iraq. Some refused to join units leaving for Iraq, but most of them escaped after arriving in Iraq by fleeing to neighboring countries such as Turkey and Jordan. As one soldier stated: "They deceived us when they described our mission to Iraq as a walk in the park." He added: "I took off so that they won't write on my grave, Deceived Dead GI in Iraq."
Smuggling American GI's is a booming business in Iraq these days. For $1,000 and his/her weapon and uniform, any US soldier can get him or herself out of Iraq through Kurdistan. Last April, a female US soldier was captured by the Kurds, allies of the US, dressed like a Kurdish woman with a face veil, attempting to cross into Turkey.
According to the New York Times, a Pentagon study revealed that one in every six soldiers who served in Iraq requires immediate psychological treatment. Over a million soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last two years. Steven Robinson, a NY Times military expert, believes that the number needing treatment could jump from one to three soldiers in every six. "There is a train loaded with people who need help that will be coming to town for the next thirty five years," said Robinson.
These figures are the worst for the US since the Vietnam War. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was supposed to be short and swift. Soldiers were promised that it would be an easy victory and that they would be home in time for the summer of 2003. Instead, urban fighting like that in the city of Fallujah last November, which provided unlimited possibilities for resistance hideouts, booby-trapped houses, and roads full of roadside bombs, put US soldiers in the position of having to live every single minute of the day in fear of an attack. In addition, seeing Iraqis and not being able to distinguish who is a friend and who is an enemy causes severe anxiety to soldiers. Paul Raykhouve, commander of a Florida National Guard platoon who served in Iraq four teen months, said: "The enemy is everywhere, in every street, looking at you from every window, in every alley. One cannot think straight because of nerve-wracking fear."
Frightened troops lacking both certainty about their mission and a strong conviction about what they are doing often end up committing war crimes, such as killing prisoners or injured people. They see in these crimes an opportunity to get even with their enemy. Racism combines with fear to make this killing possible. It then becomes important to win acceptance among other soldiers to justify the crimes. The poor training and poor education of these soldiers also stands in the way of reason and critical thinking. They learn to copy existing models of behavior, without a code of ethics or outside authority to prevent violations of rules of warfare. Even those soldiers who are not convinced that it is okay to commit war crimes find it hard to resist.
Both the political and military leadership of the US forces are directly responsible for providing a large -scale coverup of these crimes. Soldiers are subjected to an emotional extortion known as "Uniform Code of Loyalty and Secrecy." Furthermore, the political strength of the US is used to provide immunity for these soldiers from an international war crimes tribunal. This leads to normalizing the criminal behavior of servicemen, who know they can act with impunity.
Caught in frenzy of mass killing, most soldiers develop psychological stress and mental trauma as a result of serving in Iraq. This stress, predictably, has been taken out on defenseless Iraqi civilians. Many Iraqis are killed everyday simply because US soldiers suspected that they were resistance members. The horrific stories about US soldiers executing wounded Iraqis or sexually assaulting Iraqi prisoners reveal the severe psychological conditions that US troops are living under.
Upon finishing service in Iraq, these soldiers will no longer have Iraqis to murder at will. The weapons they were trained to use will be left behind. These two things — without their knowing it — had become important in their lives. Without them their return to US society, where there is little social support, will often mean poverty, alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, divorce, and suicide. In order not to face themselves, the lies they were told, and the crimes they committed, these soldiers will return to what they learned in Iraq - crime, drug trafficking, prostitution, rape, armed robbery, child abuse, racism, and rallying around the flag.
The government of the US will then have to engage in another massive coverup. This time it will be to avoid admitting any responsibility for the psychological illnesses of its servicemen, and for providing no resources to treat them. Damaged soldiers will become a supply of felons to the US justice system, which long ago stopped caring about any kind of social justice. The justice system will in turn deliver the veterans to the prison system, the US's largest growth industry.
Information about the number of US causalities in Iraq is available on the web site of the Pentagon, a building which some are now calling the "War Hub." This information covers only those who are officially US citizens enlisted with different military services. Hired security contractors, or mercenaries, and recruits who are not citizens who enlisted to obtain a "green card," are not counted or mentioned. A large number of the green card recruits are from Mexico and Central America. There are no organizations to look after their rights or help them once they're in Iraq. Most of them are buried in Iraq when killed. A videotape produced and distributed by the "Majles Shora Al-Mojahideen in Fallujah," one of the most important military wings of the Iraqi resistance, showed a burial site discovered outside the Iraqi city of Samarra with tens of bodies in US military body bags. The dead where dressed in US uniforms. It is estimated that as many as 40% of the US troops serving in Iraq are green card recruits.
The website of the Pentagon divides the causalities in Iraq into three categories:
1)"Combat Causalities" — 1,300 dead, and 9,000 injured since March, 2003. Both figures are false.
2) "Non-Combat Causalities." The site does not report how many of these were injured or killed. Last fall, 60 Minutes concluded that the figure could be around 3,000 killed and over 25,000 injured.
3) "Coalition Causalities." Information under this category was posted briefly, then deleted. The figures showed 750 killed and 1,034 injured. It is not clear who these people were. If they were "coalition forces," then why are their countries not claiming them?
The US government has gained a reputation of systematically lying to its population and the rest of the world, but a few facts about Iraq are emerging despite efforts to conceal them:
· Political stability and security in Iraq is non-existent. This goes to the heart of the claimed US goal in Iraq. The US justified its removal by military means of Saddam as a way to create a better and more stable country. Instead, Iraqis are caught in poverty, hunger, and terrible violence every day as a direct result of US forces. Iraq is not a better place today, as Tony Blair and George Bush have claimed. And after Fallujah no one any longer believes the US is trying to bring freedom to the Iraqis.
· That great lie, the "war on terrorism," has failed to crush what the US calls international terrorism. US citizens are not safer today than they were on September 11, 2001. In fact, the most powerful force in the US — its military machine - is now completely vulnerable to lethal attacks by the ever-growing Iraqi resistance. Normally, the military is established to defend or attack those labeled enemies of the state. In the case of the US, its military is designed to twist the arms of those who do not agree with its imperial agenda. The US is clearly involved in practicing terrorism by military means to achieve its strategic interests everywhere around the globe. But in Iraq, the mighty US military, with over 150,000 well-armed troops, is very nervous and suffers from low morale, and in the eyes of the world has lost the moral edge. Furthermore, the war is not a well supported cause in the US. This time the risk of getting killed in Iraq is real. This time the enemy is real.
The US public must decide on supporting a policy of war that is killing their own children and the Iraqi people, or fighting against the war by taking drastic measures --measures that go beyond vigils and feel-good political demonstrations. We may be sure that if what we are told about Iraq by the US government does not look good, the actual truth must be a great deal worse. The truth about Iraq is that "the mighty US GI's" are not so mighty.
Amer Jubran is a Palestinian living in Jordan. He left the United States one year ago after being jailed and harassed by the Department of Homeland Security for speaking and organizing in the Boston area in defense of Palestinian rights. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. military moves to slow the info flow from Iraq:
Jan. 04, 2005
(KRT) - A Bucks County, Pa., military doctor serving in Iraq says he was forced to shut down his Internet war diary last week after Army officials decided his gripping accounts of frontline medicine constituted a breach of Army regulations.
Maj. Michael Cohen, a doctor with the 67th Combat Support Hospital unit, had chronicled the bloody aftermath of the Dec. 21 mess-hall bombing in Mosul that killed 22. That account and 12 months of other postings on his Web log, www.67cshdocs.com, were replaced with a short notice:
"Levels above me have ordered, yes ORDERED, me to shut down this Web site. They cite that the information contained in these pages violates several Army Regulations," Cohen wrote, adding that he disagreed with the ban.
Military blogs have grown numerous since the invasion of Iraq, often providing a closer account of the war than traditional media. But such "milblogs" present a problem for military brass because the diaries are available to anyone with Internet access, including insurgents.
Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a spokesman for coalition forces in Iraq, said the Pentagon allows blogging so long as authors do not disrupt discipline in their units, make statements on behalf of commanders or the Army as a whole, or reveal operational details that could aid attackers.
"Sometimes a blog might contain subtle nuances from which you can put together a complete picture of our operations, which insurgents can use to attack us," Boylan said. He said he was not aware of any bloggers facing court martial or other serious discipline. He could not confirm the investigation into Cohen's blog, saying it would likely be handled by field commanders in Mosul.
"We definitely don't want to impinge upon somebody's free speech. We're out here defending that. But it can cross a line," Boylan said.
Reached by e-mail Tuesday, Cohen, 35, said that he had shut down the site after receiving a written warning but that he had not been told how his blog had offended his superiors.
Cohen was chief emergency room doctor when the Mosul bombing happened. His postings chronicled life in a modern MASH unit, treating U.S. Stryker brigade troops and wounded Iraqi insurgents alike, and they were popular. Since the blog went offline last week, Cohen said, he has received 150 e-mails from people urging him to put the site back up.
Be the media. Spread the truth.