enough with the goff

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Wed Jul 23 02:35:33 MDT 2003


At 12:30 AM -0700 7/23/03, Charles Jannuzi wrote:
>The old page means they aren't organized

Well, that's my fault, rather than his, as I posted info before the
site is really up and running.

At 12:30 AM -0700 7/23/03, Charles Jannuzi wrote:
>As undemocratic as the US is, the US military is more like a fascist
>organization where the followers do not get to give their opinions,
>let alone make decisions.

And yet, soldiers are human beings -- many of them now married with
children left at home -- with feelings and thoughts.  They have
opinions, even political judgments, and a number of them have aired
them _in public on the major media_ -- to an unprecedented degree,
especially given that the war proper is barely four months old.

*****   Troops in Iraq question Rumsfeld's decisions, waver on support for Bush
By RON MARTZ / Cox News Service

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- As an end to the fighting in Iraq continues to
elude the Bush administration, soldiers in harm's way are beginning
to openly question the president's top decision-makers, especially
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Many soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort
Stewart, Ga., privately express their displeasure with current
policies but are reluctant to speak publicly.

They know disparaging remarks about the civilian leadership of the
military could bring a career-ending reprimand or even a
court-martial.

Some soldiers are speaking publicly despite the risk. Not since
Vietnam have soldiers been so vocal about government policies in a
conflict in which they are the targets.

"If weapons of mass destruction are found, I'd have a different
feeling about this, but I'm wondering what I risked my life for,"
said Sgt. Daniel Pyle, 26, of Clayton, Del.

First Sgt. Jose Mercado, a 22-year veteran of the Army, said he is
used to complaints from soldiers, but not expressed as openly as they
have been recently.

"I've been through two wars and haven't seen anything like this
before," said Mercado, 40, of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico.

 From Vietnam until the current war in Iraq, the Pentagon kept the
news media at arm's-length from soldiers doing the fighting. This
time, the Pentagon decided to embed journalists in units going into
Iraq.

A result has been a closer view of the conflict for the public. One
of the unintended consequences has been that soldiers are freer about
expressing their opinions in front of reporters.

The discontent of 3rd Infantry soldiers is widespread in the enlisted
ranks and is even evident among junior officers. It stems from what
they believe has been a string of broken promises from the military's
civilian leadership regarding their redeployment from the war zone.

Members of the 3rd Infantry's 2nd Brigade Combat Team say they have
been told at least three different times they would be going home in
just a few weeks, only to have their departure delayed....

<http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/content/coxnet/headlines/0718_troops.html>
*****

*****   Published on Saturday, July 19, 2003 by the New York Times
Extension of Stay in Iraq Takes Toll on Morale of G.I.'s
by Robert F. Worth

FALLUJA, Iraq - Specialist Eric Martin sits on his bunk staring at
the floor, his face a picture of despair.

Earlier this week he and fellow soldiers in the Army's Third Infantry
Division learned that their tour of duty in Iraq had been extended
indefinitely.

For the division, which engaged in some of the war's heaviest
fighting when its tanks rolled into Baghdad in April, the news was
almost too bitter to believe. Originally scheduled to be home by
early June, they have been in the Persian Gulf region continuously
since November and have had their return deferred three times.

They are tired of patrolling hostile Iraqi towns in the punishing
heat. They are tired of fighting an invisible enemy, knowing that a
rocket-propelled grenade or mortar attack could come at any moment.
Many are skeptical about the peacekeeping work they have been asked
to do.

"When I found out, I just went outside and broke down," Specialist Martin said.

[One of them was killed on Friday, when a bomb exploded on the main
Falluja bridge over the Euphrates, American military spokesmen said.]

Specialist Martin has postponed his wedding, which had been scheduled
for mid-September and in part paid for....

For the 7,000 other Third Division soldiers based in and around this
town 35 miles west of the capital, the news was almost equally
bitter. Many are openly angry at the Army and the Pentagon, whom they
accuse of dishonesty about the length of their stay or the nature of
their mission.

It is not just the length of the stay that hurts, several soldiers
and officers said. Some other divisions have been in the Middle East
almost as long as this division, which arrived in Kuwait on Nov. 26.
In World War II the division was deployed for 563 days, as the senior
officers here often remind their subordinates. Many are now resigned
to the likelihood that they will stay here for a year or more.

What angers the soldiers here is that they were never prepared for
such a long tour of duty, and were repeatedly told they were on their
way home.

Adding to the frustration, several officers said, is that much of
their equipment is in poor condition and that they are short on
ammunition and food.

"We feel betrayed," Sgt. Jeffrey Lujan said as he sat on his bunk in
the middle of the afternoon, watching other soldiers play poker or
Ping-Pong in the abandoned warehouse that houses the headquarters of
the division's Second Brigade. "It was like a big, big slap in the
face when we found out we were staying."

Last week relatives of soldiers in the division began circulating an
e-mail message complaining about conditions in Falluja, along with a
letter from an unidentified soldier. "Our morale is not high or even
low," the letter says. "Our morale is nonexistent."

Virtually all of the soldiers here have stories about the damage
their extended stay has inflicted on them.

"We've got guys whose wives are leaving them, and children who are
sick," said Staff Sgt. Charles Wooten, who had to cancel his own
wedding plans because of his extended stay here.

Others have had financial and legal problems, like a soldier sued for
child support, who says he has the receipts to show his payments but
is unable to show up in court with the proof.

First Lt. Monica Casmaer, a medic at the warehouse, said 15 or 20
soldiers came in with complaints about depression or stress in the
morning. Some, she said, have become clinically depressed....

<http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0719-05.htm>   *****

*****   US army admits Iraq suicides
 From correspondents in Baghdad
23jul03

US forces in Iraq have suffered cases of probable suicide, a senior
military official said today, amid slumping morale among troops faced
with daily and deadly attacks.

The senior officer, who asked not to be named, said that among 53 US
military non-combat deaths since May 1, when the war was declared
effectively over, were "probable" suicides as well as a large number
of road accidents.

He did not say how many soldiers were suspected of committing suicide.

There have been a number of "non-hostile gunshot incidents" among US
troops in that time, with suspected suicides and accidental
discharges of weapons, for example during cleaning, included under
the category.

US forces are facing an average of around a dozen attacks a day,
hitting morale of tired troops, some of whom have already been in
Iraq for months, while others have recently had their tours of duty
indefinitely extended.

Deaths in combat against guerrilla forces resisting the US-led
occupation in Iraq since major fighting was declared over on May 1
reached 39 today, and 153 the number killed in action during the
entire Iraq campaign.

<http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/printpage/0,5481,6797508,00.html>   *****

See, also, "Servicemembers Speaking Out: A Look at the Policies,
Consequences," _Stars and Stripes_, July 23, 2003,
<http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=16649>.

Proper objective and subjective conditions for GI organizing,
military families organizing, veterans organizing, etc. now exist;
and the general public's responses to the slogan of Bring the Troops
Home Now, End the Occupation are quite promising, too, judged by
honks of support for our vigils and protests in Columbus, OH.
--
Yoshie

* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/calendar.html>,
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>



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