GI SPECIAL 3A87:
“No, No, Don't Go!”
Recruiter Tells His
"Why Am I Going To
Go Risk My Life For Political Bullshit?"
were worse than those in February, when the Army and its reserve
components failed to meet recruiting goals for the first time
since May 2000.
"The dad freaked
out on me," Decavelle said. "He was waiting in the front yard
when I got there and he went all crazy. He said, 'You just want
my son so you can send him to Iraq and send him back home in a
[Thanks to Phil G. who sent this in.]
April 1, 2005 Chicago Tribune
Cortnee Smith, a high school honors
student, last year had her mind set on joining the National Guard.
Her parents supported her. Friends in the Army told her what to
expect. Smith took a military aptitude test and told school
counselors and a recruiter she planned to join after graduation.
But last fall, her father quashed
those plans. Michael Smith, himself a former National Guard
recruiter, was called to duty last July and shipped to Iraq. What he
saw there evidently persuaded him he didn't want his daughter going.
"He was like, 'No,
no, don't go,'" said Smith, 17, now a senior at Shepard High School
in southwest suburban Palos Heights. "'Tell (the recruiter) to stop
announced Wednesday that the active-duty Army achieved only about
two-thirds of its recruiting goal for March, and the Army Reserve
reached slightly more than halfway to its target.
The active Army was
2,150 recruits short of meeting its March goal of 6,800 new troops,
and the Army Reserve fell 739 short of its goal of 1,600. These
shortfalls were worse than those in February, when the Army and its
reserve components failed to meet recruiting goals for the first
time since May 2000.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey has
conceded he expects recruiting to fall short in April as well.
Just as the armed forces are facing
their most pressing needs since the end of the Vietnam War,
many Americans do not see enough of
a national cause to warrant their sons, daughters or themselves
joining the military, let alone instituting a draft.
Such global concerns may be far from
the mind of Cortnee Smith, whose father never told her what it was
in Iraq that persuaded him to keep her out of the military. But she
does know this: Rather than ship out to Iraq to fight insurgents,
she now plans to spend the next few years studying criminology at
the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The military's problem, perhaps, is
that there are thousands of Cortnee Smiths.
Sgt. Justin Ramsey recently tried to
persuade John Gentry, a freshman at a community college outside
Portland, Ore., to join the Marines. Gentry seemed interested in
the money he might earn, but not if it meant going away for six
months to train and eating "that food in little packets."
recruiters' earshot, Gentry, wearing a rumpled T-shirt and
flip-flops, conceded that Iraq also worried him. "I wouldn't sign
up if I had to go to Iraq," he said. "Why am I going to go risk my
life for political bullshit?"
Sgt. Armin Englerth, an Army
recruiter, said he hears that quite a bit. "I get a lot of the
'we're at war' response," Englerth said. "There's no really great
way to address it. It's like, 'OK, we're at war.' I'm not going to
tell them they won't go. It's the luck of the draw."
Recruiters say it's
the parents of potential recruits, such as Cortnee Smith's father,
who often are the biggest impediments. Where young people may view
themselves as invincible, parents are painfully aware of their
On a recent Friday, Sgt. Nathan
Decavelle, a Marine recruiter, met a high school senior in West
Lynn, near Portland, who seemed interested enough in joining the
Marines to give the recruiter his name and home address. But when
the Marine showed up at the teenager's home on Monday morning, he
encountered the boy's irate father instead.
"The dad freaked
out on me," Decavelle said. "He was waiting in the front yard
when I got there and he went all crazy. He said, 'You just want
my son so you can send him to Iraq and send him back home in a
So the military is exhausting every
imaginable idea, effort and inducement to keep manpower up and
attract qualified troops. Recruiters are hitting NASCAR events,
rock concerts, rodeos and rib festivals, using custom-painted
Humvees and other gimmicks to attract the masses like old-fashioned
Within the Army,
the biggest fall-off in recruiting is in the Army Reserve and
National Guard, ostensibly citizen-soldiers who are being made to
serve full time because of the war in Iraq.
The highest death
rate in Iraq is now being sustained by Army National Guardsmen--35
percent higher than for the entire active-duty Army.
That is one reason the Army is no
longer getting double use from its soldiers: Those coming off active
duty are reluctant to immediately join the National Guard or
Reserve, as many have done in the past.
"They don't want to
join because they know they'll go right back to Iraq," said Lawrence
Korb, who was an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan
administration. "That means the Guard and reserve
have to go out into the marketplace and compete for new people. . .
. The market is drying up."
With a return to
the draft considered a political impossibility, many in the
defense community fear that the recruiting shortfall could
eventually mean lowering standards, diminishing quality to the
abysmal levels of the "hollow army" of the late 1970s. [It’s
In those days,
operating and repair manuals were printed in comic book form
because of the low reading skills of many enlistees.
The Army is still meeting its
threshold requirement that at least 90 percent of its recruits must
have high school diplomas, and no more than 2 percent can come from
the substandard Category 4 group of recruits who score 30 points or
lower out of 99 on the Army aptitude test.
But the number of high school dropouts
being accepted has nearly doubled, to 9 percent of total recruits,
and the number of Category 4 scorers has gone from 0.6 percent of
the total to 1.8 percent.
FOR MORE ON THE
RECRUITING CRISIS, INCLUDING, YEAH, AN ARTICLE ON LOWERING OF
STANDARDS, SEE THE SECTION “TROOP NEWS” RIGHT AFTER “WAR REPORTS”
IRAQ WAR REPORTS
Had Been With Fire
April 1, 2005 The Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Marine from Orange
County has been killed on his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Charles Wells, with the 2nd Force
Service Support Group out of Camp Fallujah, was killed Wednesday
when his vehicle struck a land mine while on a logistics patrol to
Qaim, authorities said.
In his civilian
life, Wells was a member of the Orange County Fire Rescue
Department, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
He had completed training as an
emergency medical technician when he received orders for his first
deployment to Iraq, said Tammy Wunderly, a department battalion
He completed that tour and returned to
Orange County to resume his firefighter training.
A few months later,
he received orders for a second tour in Iraq.
Wells leaves behind a wife and
Grand Bay Soldier
April 01, 2005 By GEORGE WERNETH,
Staff Reporter, Mobile Register
Army Spc. Kenneth Delon Bosarge, 24,
of Grand Bay was seriously injured in Iraq on Sunday when the Humvee
he was riding in ran over an improvised explosive device, his father
Bosarge, a 1999
graduate of Alma Bryant High School, was serving as a gunner on top
of the Humvee when the incident occurred, said Paul "Kenny" Bosarge
of Grand Bay.
Paul Bosarge said
his son, serving with the 3rd Infantry Division, sustained 32
shrapnel wounds to his lower body. He also has shrapnel wounds to
his arms, neck and face. He lost the sight in his right eye but is
expected to recover from his other wounds.
The soldier will be transferred to
Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and is expected
to arrive there Sunday. Paul Bosarge said he and his wife, Renae
Bosarge, along with their son's wife, Tiffany Bosarge of Grand Bay,
plan to drive to Walter Reed today to be with him.
The soldier was
based at Camp Al Asad near Fallujah and was a member of a security
detail that was escorting a military convoy when the incident
occurred, his father said.
The soldier and his
wife have two children: a daughter, Hannah, 3, and a son, Hayden, 21
Attacked At Ramadi
FALLUJAH, Iraq, April 1 (Xinhuanet)
A suicide car bomb
hit a US checkpoint at the entrance of a US military base west of
the restive city of Ramadi on Friday, witnesses said.
The explosion took
place when a bomber drove a booby-trapped truck into the US military
checkpoint around midday. Casualties were not known
as the US troops sealed off the area, the witnesses said.
Relaxes Recruiting Standards
[Thanks to Phil G who sent this in.]
4.1.05 The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. -
The Army National Guard, which
recently increased its age limit in an effort to reverse a decline
in recruitment, is now opening its doors to less educated people.
Under a policy
approved this week, the guard will accept recruits with at least a
ninth-grade education, as long as they get a
satisfactory score on a vocational aptitude test and obtain a
General Education Development diploma within three years of signing
up, said spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Milord at the National Guard Bureau
in Arlington, Va.
Previously, recruits needed a
high-school diploma or GED certificate to enter the guard, said
Pennsylvania Army National Guard spokesman Capt. Cory Angell.
"The risks now are
certainly greater," Milord said. "That's certainly a consideration
The National Guard and Army Reserve
also recently raised the maximum enlistment age from 34 to 39.
On Thursday, a
39-year-old construction superintendent from Wallingford became the
first person covered by the new age standard to enlist in the
Pennsylvania Army Guard.
"I felt an obligation, but all the
services said I was too old," said James Neikam, who is single and
said he is not worried about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan to
fight alongside younger people.
"I've been doing
martial arts for 20 years. I fight 19- and 20-year-olds all the
time," Neikam said. [Perfect. The resistance in Iraq is well known
for using martial arts in fighting the occupation.]
Marine Major Whines
About Vet Calling Recruiters Liars
March 21, 2005 By Rick Hampson, USA
NEW YORK — The Marines didn’t have to
recruit Greg McCullough; He signed a promise to enlist last year,
while still in high school.
But now McCullough has had second
thoughts, and he’s talking to a different kind of recruiter.
Jim Murphy is a “counter-recruiter,”
one of a small but growing number of opponents of the Iraq war who
aim to compete with the military for the hearts and minds of young
“I don’t tell kids not to join the
military,” said Murphy, 59, a member of Veterans for Peace. “I tell
them, ‘Have a plan for your future. Because if you don’t, the
military has a plan for you.’”
The Marines told
McCullough that signing up for the Delayed Entry Program was a
binding commitment, which Murphy told him was not true.
Murphy gave him a form letter to send
to the commander of the Marine recruiting station, saying he’d
changed his mind. Murphy told McCullough that the armed services
don’t consider recruits to have joined until they go to basic
training — “until they shave your head,” as he put it.
Maj. J.J. Dill,
commander of Marine recruiters in metro New York, said
counter-recruiters such as Murphy “don’t know what they’re talking
about. But saying that we’re tricking and lying, that certainly has
an impact on a young person. A lot of them are
influenced by these counter-recruiters or by negative media
coverage” of Iraq.
telling a stupid lie also “has an impact on a young person.” As for
that “negative publicity” he’s moaning about, does that include
troops being dead? See next item:]
NEED SOME TRUTH? CHECK
OUT TRAVELING SOLDIER
Telling the truth
- about the occupation or the criminals running the government in
Washington - is the first reason for Traveling Soldier. But we
want to do more than tell the truth; we want to report on the
resistance - whether it's in the streets of Baghdad, New York, or
inside the armed forces. Our goal is for Traveling Soldier to
become the thread that ties working-class people inside the armed
services together. We want this newsletter to be a weapon to help
you organize resistance within the armed forces. If you like what
you've read, we hope that you'll join with us in building a
network of active duty organizers.
And join with Iraq War
vets in the call to end the occupation and bring our troops home
What Does Have “An
Impact On A Young Person”?
March 21, 2005 By Jane McHugh, Army
Times staff writer
Statistically, the fear factor is
about twice as strong among potential recruits as a whole than it
was in 2000, the GfK study found in August.
The fear is
evident in a high proportion of survey respondents, who said their
main reasons for not joining the military included: “I might be
killed in combat,” “I don’t want to kill people,” and “I might be
captured or tortured.”
For Recruiters, A
Hard Toll From A Hard Sell
Sgt. Latrail Hayes, a recruiter who
sought conscientious objector status (Marty Katz/New
At least 37
members of the Army Recruiting Command, which oversees enlistment,
have gone AWOL since October 2002, Army figures show.
One recruiter in
the New York area said that when he steps outside his office for a
cigarette, he often is barraged with epithets from passers-by
angry about the war.
In January, the
brother-in-law of a prospective recruit lashed into him. "He
swore at me," the recruiter said, "and said that he would rather
have his brother-in-law in jail for selling crack than in the
March 27, 2005 By DAMIEN CAVE, New
[Thanks to Desmond
& Tom J, who sent this in.]
The Army's recruiters are being
challenged with one of the hardest selling jobs the military has
asked of them in the nation's history, and many say the demands are
taking a toll.
A recruiter in New
York said pressure from the Army to meet his recruiting goals during
a time of war has given him stomach problems and searing back pain.
Suffering from bouts of depression, he said he has considered
Another, in Texas,
said he had volunteered many times to go to Iraq rather than face
ridicule, rejection and the Army's wrath.
An Army chaplain said he had counseled
nearly a dozen recruiters in the past 18 months to help them cope
with marital troubles and job-related stress.
"There were a couple of recruiters
that felt they were having nervous breakdowns, literally," said Maj.
Stephen Nagler, a chaplain who retired in March after serving at
Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, where the New York City recruiting
battalion is based.
Some two dozen recruiters nationwide
were interviewed about their experiences over four months.
Ten spoke with
The New York Times even after an Army official sent an e-mail
message advising all recruiters not to speak to a reporter, who
was named. Most asked to remain anonymous to avoid being
But most told similar tales: of loving
the military, of working hard to complete a task that seemed out of
reach, of struggling to carry the nation's burden at a time of
anxiety and stress.
The careers and
self-esteem of recruiters rise and fall on their ability to fulfill
a mission, said current and former Army officials and military
experts who were also interviewed. Recruiters said falling short
often generates a barrage of angry correspondence, formal
reprimands, threats or even demotion.
"The recruiter is stuck in the
situation where you're not going to make mission, it just won't
happen," the New York recruiter said. "And you're getting chewed out
every day for it. It's horrible."
He said the assignment was more strenuous than the time he was shot
at while deployed in Africa.
At least 37 members
of the Army Recruiting Command, which oversees enlistment, have gone
AWOL since October 2002, Army figures show.
And, in what recruiters consider
another sign of stress, the number of improprieties committed -
signing up unqualified people to meet quotas or giving bonuses or
other enlistment benefits to recruits not eligible for them - has
increased, Army documents show.
The Army is seeking 101,200 new
active-duty Army and Reserve soldiers this year alone to replenish
the ranks in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world and
at home. That means each of the
Army's 7,500 recruiters faces the grind of an unyielding human math
at a time of extended war without a draft: a quota of two new
recruits a month.
The mission puts them in a different
kind of cross-fire: On one side, the military's requirement that
new soldiers be found. On the
other, resistance by many parents to Army careers for their children
Maj. Gen. Michael
D. Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command, acknowledged
it is a stressful time for recruiters, who face "the toughest
challenge to the all-volunteer Army" since it began in 1973.
But many recruiters said the Army
continues to minimize how difficult it has become to find qualified
volunteers during a war and in a growing economy.
The Army is the nation's largest
military branch, comprising 80 percent of the 150,000 troops in
Iraq. Its recruiters are among its best soldiers. Most are
sergeants with 5 to 15 years of experience, pulled randomly from the
top 10 percent of their specialty, as defined by their commanding
officers. More than 70 percent did not volunteer for
Some soldiers are better suited to the
task than others. Staff Sgt. Jose E. Zayas, 42, is outgoing,
bilingual and embraces his mission. Recently, canvassing in the
Bronx, he had little trouble persuading a couple from Massachusetts
to accept a few pamphlets.
But for every Sergeant Zayas, there is
a recruiter like Sgt. Joshua Harris, 29, a former personnel
administrator in a New Jersey recruiting station, who struggles when
talking to strangers. Seven weeks of instruction in approaching
prospects helped him, he said. But many recruiters said few soldiers
possess the skills they need.
Recruiters are paid about $30,000 a
year, plus housing and other allowances, including $450 a month in
special-duty pay for recruiting. They live where they recruit,
often hundreds of miles from a base.
These men, and occasionally women,
spend several hours a day cold-calling high school students, whose
phone numbers are provided by schools under the No Child Left Behind
law. They also must "prospect" at malls, at high schools, colleges
and wherever else young people gather.
The follow-up process often takes
months. Though parents do not have to sign off on the decision to
join, recruiters said it is virtually impossible to enlist a new
recruit without their approval. Over dinners and on the phone, they
make the Army's case over and over to win parents' support.
If they succeed, they are responsible
for bringing the recruit in for 5:30 a.m. processing , organizing
physical fitness training or, in the case of one California
recruiter, taking 3 a.m. phone calls to comfort a recruit crying
over a breakup with her boyfriend.
"the only military occupation that deals with the civilian world
entirely," said Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at
Army data found
that, even before the war, recruiters contacted on average about 120
people before landing an active-duty recruit. That number has only
grown, recruiters said.
One recruiter in
the New York area said that when he steps outside his office for a
cigarette, he often is barraged with epithets from passers-by angry
about the war.
In January, the
brother-in-law of a prospective recruit lashed into him. "He swore
at me," the recruiter said, "and said that he would rather have his
brother-in-law in jail for selling crack than in the Army."
The recruiter said,
when out of uniform, he often lies about his profession. "I tell
them I work in human resources," he said.
Still, they must sign up two recruits
A December report from the commanding
officers overseeing about 40 recruiters in West Houston reflects the
mission-driven culture of recruitment. Sent by e-mail to station
commanders, it started by declaring, "We can sum up the month of Dec
with one word - Unprofessional!"
The document noted that in an
end-of-the-month push to meet quota, seven recruits had appeared for
processing. Of those, two did not meet weight requirements and
needed a waiver, while two others lacked paperwork.
"We are processing
crap," the report stated, "double and triple waivers, waivers which
get approved and the applicant refuses to enlist (two this month),
waivers on people with more than 20 charges, etc. We are putting
these people in our Army!"
The cause, it said, was a lack of
leadership: "I challenged you to fix your stations. No one has
Asked to respond to the document, the
Houston recruiting battalion declined.
The report was
followed on Jan. 6 by an e-mail message from Command Sgt. Maj. Frank
Norris, the second in command of 212 recruiters in and around
Houston, threatening to deny all requests for leave.
"There are no
excuses and I am tired of entertaining such lack of discipline and
focus," he said in the e-mail message forwarded to The Times by a
recruiter who received it. "Let this serve notice that any station
commander that is holding this great battalion back will not be a
station commander in this battalion very much longer."
contained any mention of the war, nor other possible obstacles.
Sergeant Major Norris declined through an Army
spokesman to be interviewed. General Rochelle said most battalions
do not resort to such tactics.
The recruiter in
New York who had considered suicide said he has seen at least four
marriages break up among the 9 or 10 recruiters in his area since
2002. He said he has been subjected to threats of discharge and
"zero-roller training," when superiors comb through recruiters'
phone logs and other materials, then lambaste them for failing to
After more than a decade in the
military, he said he still loves the Army.
"It's just this detail," he said.
"This is hell."
A Texas recruiter -
a gruff man whose home is decorated with military commendations -
said that he suffers from severe headaches lasting up to six hours.
"I never had them until I got out here," he said. "They're from
He and other
recruiters said they occasionally feel angry enough to hit someone.
About two years ago, he said, two recruiters in his office brawled
over who should get credit for a new recruit.
"We call this the
pressure plate, like on a land mine," he said, pointing to the
recruiter patch on his uniform. "If you push it too hard, we'll
His wife, like
spouses in California and elsewhere, is furious at what she sees as
the Army's lack of support.
"What we are doing
is good; recruiting is good and important work," she said. "But the
fact of the matter is that it's killing our soldiers."
Many of the recruiters said they have
asked for other assignments. One of them is Sgt. Latrail Hayes.
Now 27, Sergeant Hayes enlisted in the Army 10 years ago, out of
high school in Virginia Beach, continuing a family tradition of
military service. He volunteered to be a recruiter in 2000, after
52 jumps as a paratrooper, and at first his easy charm, appeals to
patriotism and offers of Army benefits enticed dozens of recruits.
Hayes said he started rethinking his assignment as the war went
on. Mothers required months, not weeks, of persuasion. And the
stories he heard from some of his recruits who had deployed to
Iraq and Afghanistan made him reluctant to pursue prospects by
emphasizing the Army's benefits. When his cousin - whom he had
recruited - came home from Iraq with psychological trauma, he
filed for conscientious objector status in June, as a strategy to
obtain a new assignment.
The application was
rejected in November. Now, instead of serving 20 years in the Army,
he intends to leave in December, when his recruiting tour is done.
"There's a deep human connection when you try to persuade someone to
do something you've done," he said. "So when it turns into something
else - maybe even the opposite - it's difficult."
said they witnessed an increase in "improprieties," which are
defined as any grossly negligible or intentional act or omission
used to enlist an unqualified applicant or grant benefits to those
who are ineligible. They said recruiters falsified documents and
told prospects to lie about medical conditions or police records.
An analysis of Army records shows that
the number of impropriety allegations doubled to 1,023 in 2004 from
490 in 2000. Initial investigations substantiated 459 violations of
Army enlistment standards in 2004, up from 186 in 2000. In 135
cases, recruiters - often more than one - were judged to have
committed improprieties, up from 113 in 2000. The rest were defined
General Rochelle acknowledged that the
impropriety figures "may be a reflection of some of the pressure
that is perceived at the lower levels." He also said that the
increase could partly be explained by improvements in tracking
"We hold every recruiter responsible
for being a living and breathing example of Army values," he said.
The quotas will remain unchanged,
General Rochelle said. But the commanders should be held
responsible for finding ways to meet their goals. "It does no good
to pass the heat, as it were, or the correction down to the
individual soldier," he said.
In a small concession to recruiters,
Army brass announced in February that they can trade the green
slacks and shirts that they said made them feel and look like
security guards for battle fatigues.
General Rochelle said the uniform swap
was part of a new recruiting strategy to stress patriotism over
salesmanship and enlist veterans to help make the Army's pitch.
"It's less materialistic, in terms of the focus, once we get a
recruiter face to face with a young American," he said.
The recruiter in
Texas, for one, said the changes are too little too late. He said
he would rather be in Iraq.
Bulgaria Announce Timelines For Bringing Their Troops Home
4/1/2005 By Antonio Castaneda, (AP) &
Ukraine and Italy
announced timelines to pull troops from Iraq later this year,
further dwindling the number of U.S.-led coalition forces.
Viktor Yushchenko confirmed Thursday that Kiev would withdraw its
last remaining troops from Iraq in October, as tentatively planned,
Interfax news agency reported.
"It will be
mid-October," Mr Yushchenko told a press conference in Kiev.
However, he added that the exact date
for the withdrawal could still fluctuate.
position is the following: our troops must leave Iraq this year," he
A first batch of 137 soldiers returned
home earlier this month and in May, Ukraine plans to cut the now
1,300-strong force to some 850.
Mr Yushchenko - who promised ahead of
his election in December to bring the troops home - announced in
early March that the some 1,600 troops then stationed in Iraq would
be withdrawn from that country in three stages: nearly 150 in March,
some 590 in May and the rest in October.
Silvio Berlusconi also said he plans to trim his contingent of
troops at the end of September by about 300 soldiers from his
current force of 3,300.
decided to fully withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of this
year, reports from Sofia said on Thursday, quoting a government
The spokesman also said Bulgaria will
cut the number of its troops from the current 450 to 400 in June.
national assembly is expected to approve the decision in mid-April
as both the ruling and opposition parties support the troop
withdrawal plan, the reports said.
A public outcry
against the troop deployment in Iraq prompted Bulgarian Defence
Minister Nikolai Svinarov last week to propose a total troop
withdrawal by the end of this year.
Do you have a
friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or
send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly.
Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra
important for your service friend, too often cut off from access
to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and
inside the armed services.
Send requests to address up top.
Arrested For Deserting Unit
April 1, 2005 The Associated Press.
A Marine reservist from the Chicago
suburb of Hoffman Estates was taken into custody this week by local
police who turned him over to the military for allegedly deserting
Lance Corporal Charles Lee surrendered
to police Wednesday. Military officials say Lee was supposed to be
with the Second Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment based in Chicago.
The unit has been serving in Iraq since last year.
Military officials say Lee was turned
over to the military yesterday and will be taken to the Quantico
Marine Base in Virginia where he will be processed.
Lee's family says
he thought he completed his Marine Reserves' obligation and was
concentrating on his studies at Northwestern University.
Army Knew Strykers
Were Fucked Up In December;
Report Just Now
April 01, 2005 By Pauline Jelinek,
The problems were
cited in an Army report from December that was made public Thursday
by the private Project on Government Oversight.
“The Army should
not put inadequately tested equipment in the field, as it creates a
false impression that the troops are properly equipped to fight in
combat,” said Eric Miller, who investigates
defense issues for the oversight group.
Among the other problems with the
Army’s first new combat vehicle in two decades were:
The weapon system does not shoot accurately when the Stryker is
• Troops cannot
fasten their seat belts when they are wearing bulky body armor.
• Computer systems
for communications, intelligence and other systems have
malfunctioned in the desert heat due to air conditioning problems.
A study of the Stryker’s performance
in Iraq found numerous design flaws and other problems. For
example, the 19-ton, eight-wheeled vehicle bogs down in mud and the
engine strains when 5,000-pound armor is added to protect troops
from insurgents’ explosives.
2005 Newsweek, Inc. Interview with Jeremy Hinzman, who deserted
from the 82nd Airborne.
Your main argument
in seeking political asylum in Canada hinged on the legality of the
war—that, on the one hand, it wasn't sanctioned by the international
community, and on the other, that the United States is
systematically violating humanitarian law on the ground.
It was established at Nuremberg, you
can't act preemptively, you have to wait until the gun is pointed or
you're actually being attacked. And as a soldier, they tell you
from day one, that it is your duty and obligation, and you will be
punished if you go along with an illegal, unlawful, immoral order.
And I feel that the order to attack and occupy Iraq is an illegal,
immoral order and it's my duty as a soldier to refuse to carry it
When the Canadian
government intervened, calling the legality of the war "irrelevant,"
did it seriously compromise your case?
Our hands were
tied. We weren't even allowed to argue it. I think that had the
government not intervened in our case, and had they said that the
war was legal and sent me back, the U.S. would say, “yeah, fine,
thanks for sending the bastard back.” But they would also say, “Hey
Canada, you're our biggest ally.
And we were begging
for countries to go along with the Coalition of the Willing. It was
us, England, and, like, Costa Rica or something”—which doesn't even
have an army, right?—“and you didn't send troops and now you're
saying the war was legit?”
So they dig
themselves a hole that way. And then, obviously, if they said the
war was illegal and I could stay, then obviously that creates a lot
of friction, too.
Your lawyer was a
Vietnam-era draft evader and you've received support from other
Americans who settled in Canada at that time. How do you respond to
critics who argue that, “Hey, unlike the Vietnam-era dodgers, you
signed up for this?”
That's a fair thing to say. …just
because you volunteer to do something, it doesn't mean that your
ability to be a moral being should become static. Life is dynamic,
and if you're confronted with doing something wrong, it's not right
to abdicate your duty and obligation to be a moral being.
Immigration and Refugee Board didn't feel you'd be facing
persecution in your homeland, one of the criteria for political
asylum. What are you expecting if you are forced home?
I don't think (the
judge) knows the full extent of what U.S. prisons are like. And I
don't think I'm going to be going to the prison where Martha Stewart
was if I was to go back. But more importantly, we
meet the criteria for refugee status. I know we're not from Darfur
But it says in the Geneva Convention
on Refugees that a soldier who refuses to fight in a war that's
condemned by the international community and faces prosecution for
that, that amounts to persecution on the basis of political opinion.
And we met that criteria. And rotting away in a jail is cruel and
unusual for doing the right thing.
They used to shoot
Army deserters, didn't they?
theoretically, you can get a death sentence for this. And, no, I
don't think it's a real likely possibility. But look at the Bush
administration and look at what they've done or what Gonzales has
done, or whoever. They're totally willing to do unprecedented and
uncustomary things to fight this war. And I wouldn't put it past
them to do something drastic with us.
Arrested for Colombian Cocaine Plot
[Thanks to PB for
sending this in. He writes: Echoes of Vietnam.]
Apr 1 (Reuters)
soldiers have been arrested for trying to smuggle hundreds of
thousands of dollars worth of cocaine into the United States on a
U.S. military aircraft, the U.S. military said.
The five unidentified Army personnel
were detained on Tuesday and are being held in the United States for
"allegedly trying to transport approximately 16 kilograms (35 lb) of
cocaine," U.S. Southern Command said in a news release late on
The cocaine could be sold in the
United States for $300,000-$500,000.
The U.S. Congress
has authorized the presence of up to 800 U.S. troops in Colombia to
train Colombian soldiers and provide support for the country's war
on cocaine and rebels, as well as up to 600 civilian contractors.
The United States
has provided Colombia with more than $3 billion in mainly military
aid since 2000.
Where Even Generals
Fear A Military Draft
Inquirer, April 1, 2005)
A certain amount of panic will take
hold of Russia today, when the country begins its annual military
draft. Generals are worried that they will end up with another
group of drug abusers, convicts and misfits.
terrified at handing over their sons to a military notorious for its
brutal hazing of recruits. And tens of thousands of draft-age young
men fear for their lives as they face two years of menial labor,
sadistic senior officers, and, worst of all, a possible deployment
4/1/2005 By Antonio Castaneda, (AP) &
Agence France-Presse & BBC
Iraqi police say
guerrillas have killed a local chief of police in an ambush in Balad
Ruz, north of Baghdad.
Hatem Rashid Mohammad was killed along
with another police officer as they visited a police stations.
Reports say a third
policeman died on Friday when police stormed a house they believed
In Samarra about 17
guerrillas in three cars blocked off roads to the centre and pounded
the station with rocket-propelled grenades, provoking a 10-minute
firefight in which a policeman was wounded.
Death Of An Empire
03/30/05 By Gwynne Dyer, "Cincinnati
People who search
for a long-term strategy in neo-conservative policies invariably end
up thinking there is none, but that's because they are looking for
coherence. They expect too much.
When strategists are confronted with
an insoluble problem, they generally try to solve it anyway, and
they are not above using irrational assumptions to stick the bits of
rational analysis together.
Great powers on the
brink of decline typically have incoherent and foredoomed strategies
to ward off their fate, simply because no better strategies are
"I have not become
His Majesty's first minister to preside over the dissolution of the
British empire,'' Winston Churchill harrumphed in 1940 - but from
the Spanish armada of 1588 to the Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in
1956, the flailing efforts of paramount powers to ward off impending
demotion from "superpower'' status have generally just hastened the
do you think? Comments from service men and women, and veterans,
are especially welcome. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name, I.D., withheld on request. Replies confidential.
From: "Don Bacon"
To: GI Special
Sent: April 01, 2005
---portion of interview on National
Public Radio, 29 March 05
. . . We track, for example, the numbers of attacks by area. We
track the types of attacks by area. And what we're seeing, for
example, and one metric is presented graphically and it shows that
we had spiked up during the sovereignty pass to the Iraqi people and
spiked up again during the election, and are now back down to the
pre-sovereignty levels which are considerably lower.
attacks a day or something like that?
RUMSFELD: I don't
know what the number is, I don't have it in front of me.
(OR DOESN'T CARE??)
Major General Smedley Butler (USMC)
said seventy years ago:
"War is a racket.
It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most
profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one
international in scope. It is the only one in which profits are
reckoned in dollars and losses in lives."
The Smedley Butler Society
The First American
[Thanks to Liz Burbank for posting
ERADICATING BACON'S REBELLION FROM
POPULAR MEMORY by Jonathan Scott, Guest Commentator, The Black
For those interested in an alternative
history of American slavery, the first installment of PBSšs new
four-hour series, Slavery and the Making of America (February 9 and
16) began on a promising note.
The first American bond-laborers, we
are shown in vivid color and told by narrator Morgan Freeman, were a
rather mixed group: English, Scottish, Irish, and African.
Rarely do U.S. history texts start
with this crucial fact in telling the story of America’s so-called
Peculiar Institution. In the main, U.S. slavery is presented as
either an embarrassing aberration or a painful yet necessary stage
in the nationšs triumphant march toward democracy and equality for
In both conceptions, American slavery
is always racialized, creating the false impression that
Anglo-American slave-owners imposed a system of chattel slavery on
Africans and African Americans because of their phenotype (or skin
tone), not their labor power.
For students of the history of
colonial Virginia, the PBS documentary’s unorthodox beginning was
exciting for another reason.
For next would be
one of the most remarkable moments in all of American history:
Baconšs Rebellion of 1676, the largest and most consequential slave
revolt in the history of the continent.
At first a small
opposition movement within the Anglo-American ruling class, over
profit-making opportunities in Virginia, the revolt became hurriedly
a mass rebellion of bond-laborers, their sights set on the chief
garrison and magazine at West Point.
Nathaniel Bacon was a member of the
colony council and a militant opponent of Virginia land policy.
He had prepared the
revolt a few years earlier by organizing an armed mutiny of angry
taxpayers at Lawnes Creek Parish, and, in November of 1676,
proclaimed freedom to all bond-laborers, in anticipation they would
join his cause against the big tobacco bourgeoisie.
He was right.
bond-laborers - six thousand European Americans and two thousand
African Americans - took up arms against the numerically tiny
Anglo-American slave-owning planter class. Seizing the day,
dramatically, they drove Governor Berkeley back to England, hat in
hand, and shut down all tobacco production for fourteen straight
The slave rebellion introduced a near
terminal crisis in the young British imperial system, and, for the
Anglo-American slave owners and planters, the frightening prospect
of losing forever the entire Chesapeake, home to some of the richest
tidewater land on the planet, which they had been exploiting
massively and ceaselessly for the previous sixty years, through a
system of bond-labor servitude known as chattel slavery.
But the American
bond-laborers - English, Irish, Scottish, and African - had had
enough. Throughout the seventeenth century, the death toll in the
Virginia colony had been around 80 percent, due to the nightmarishly
harsh conditions of labor and the vicious punishments inflicted by
magistrates on resistant tobacco workers. The bond-laborers were
not going back.
about Bacon’s Rebellion is the fact that the bond-labor rebels took
up arms together without the slightest regard for each otheršs
A month into the successful rebel
takeover of the Virginia colony, the British crown sent one Thomas
Grantham, a Navy captain, to bribe the rebel leaders. The rebel
leaders weren’t having it, and, according to Grantham himself in the
official report he penned weeks later, recommended “cutting me in
the rebel leaders as “foure hundred English and Negroes in Armes.”
This is no small point, as the historical record of Virginia
The British would eventually crush
Bacon’s Rebellion through a relentless bombing campaign of the
1783: The Second
Vets Fucked Over By
“Founding Fathers” ---
A Long Tradition
No Thanks From An
Ungrateful Pack Of Politicians
April 1, 2005, By Ben A. Franklin,
Editor, The Washington Spectator
After the British
surrendered Yorktown in 1781, rumors spread throughout the ranks
that the Continental Army would be demobilized without being paid.
In June 1783, a
small band of soldiers from the unit known as the Pennsylvania Line
marched on the capital of the new nation, then in Philadelphia,
demanding the back pay owed them. They surrounded the State House
and poked their bayonet-tipped muskets through the windows at the
assembled Congress, which included James Madison and Alexander
Fearing a coup d’ état, Congress quit
the building, pushed through the jeering armed mob
[translation: fucked over vets. And
in this sentence it sounds like a whole lot more than “a small band”
mentioned above, doesn’t it?] and headed to Princeton,
For weeks the
soldiers held their ground.
They grew into a
mutinous mob of 400,
[note how anytime troops stand up
for themselves they suddenly become a “mutinous mob?” That’s an old
tradition too: slander] making daily demands on the
government and terrorizing the citizens of Philadelphia.
[translation: terrorizing the war
profiteers who had gotten rich selling supplies to the Army, and the
British too, and were pissing their pants that the soldiers’
benefits might cost them some of their riches. Sound familiar?]
weeks of the renegade [translation: betrayed] soldiers’ daily
demonstrations and threats, General George Washington sent a force
of 1,500 Continental soldiers to compel the men to return to their
homes. Two of the leaders of the mutiny were sentenced to be shot,
led out to be executed, and set before a line of soldiers with
loaded guns. At the last minute, they were pardoned by Congress.
Other leaders were whipped before being released. [Lesson
learned. When you got them surrounded with the weapons pointing in
the windows at Congress, do not let them escape and regroup.]
War mutinies were not about power or ideology but simply about being
paid for services rendered.
Although most Revolutionary War
veterans were not paid for years,
they eventually got
back pay and pensions.
[Oh, so the troops had it right.
They were getting ripped off by the wealthy new American rulers. It
was OK to die for the American revolution, but expecting the
politicians to keep their promises? How dare they!! Just a “mob”
The mutiny had another consequence.
During the Revolutionary War, on separate occasions, Congress had
retreated from Philadelphia to York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and
to Baltimore, Maryland, to avoid capture by the British.
The Congress had always returned.
After the 1783
mutiny and the humiliating departure from Philadelphia, the members
vowed never to return. They stayed in Princeton until the end of
the year, then moved to Annapolis, Maryland, and then on to Trenton,
Constitutional Convention met in 1787, memories of 1783 were still
so fresh in the delegates’ minds that they wrote a provision into
the Constitution providing for a new kind of capital federal
enclave, which would become Washington, D.C., by the turn of the
century. [And where slavery was legal. Which fit right in.]
Secular Women Say
That They Fear For The Future
March 31, 2005 Catherine Philp,
JENAN AL-UBAEDEY peers over her
half-moon glasses, waving her black-gloved hands between repeated
tugs on her long, flowing abaya to pull it closer around her face.
“If you say to a man he cannot use
force against a woman, you are asking the impossible,” she
explains. “So we say a husband can beat his wife, but he cannot
leave a mark. If he does that, he will be punished.”
On the subject of polygamy, the former
pediatrician turned politician says: “If you don’t allow your
husband to take another wife, he’d have an affair anyway . . . I’d
rather know my husband has another wife that I know about.”
In fact, Dr Ubaedey’s husband is back
home in the Shia holy city of Najaf, looking after the couple’s four
children while she stays in Baghdad to take up her duties as one of
Iraq’s new parliamentarians.
As a devout Shia Muslim and one of
eighty-nine women sitting in the new parliament, she knows what her
first priority there is: to implement Islamic law. When
Dr Ubaedey took her seat at last week’s assembly opening, she found
herself among an increasingly powerful group of religious women
politicians who are seeking to repeal old laws giving women some of
the same rights as men and replace them with Sharia, Islam’s divine
Among the new laws that they are
pushing for is one allowing men to marry up to four wives, one
awarding women half the inheritance given to men
and another denying women custody of
children over the age of 2 in the event of divorce.
More than 50 per cent of female
parliamentarians belong to the cleric-backed United Iraqi Alliance,
which won the election in a landslide with just over half the seats.
It has called the implementation of Sharia “non-negotiable”.
Secular women fighting the
conservative religious agenda say that women such as Dr Udaedey make
their job harder. “It’s weakening our position,” Nada al-Bayiati,
of the Women’s Organisation for Freedom in Iraq, said. “How can you
argue for women’s rights when the women are undermining you?”
Other critics also
contend that the quota has worked against women’s rights because the
male leaders of the Shia parties stacked the list with women who had
few qualifications or political ambitions of their own but who would
blindly support their agenda.
Dr Ubaedey cannot be counted among
them. Her views are her own and her ambitions cannot be doubted.
But she admits that the same cannot be said of all her female
colleagues. “It’s true that many of them — maybe a third — have
just been put there by the men. They are not aware and don’t come to
meetings, so they don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “About 10
per cent of them are learning, but the others don’t really care.”
Hussein, Iraqi women were among the most free in the Middle East,
with many rights equal to those of men. Conservative Shias say that
the code that ensured those rights is an alien secular one that
belongs to the old regime and should be dropped.
Early last year, women’s groups were
treated to a taste of their vision of women’s rights in the new
Iraq, when the Shia-led governing council issued a resolution
cancelling the old civil code on family law and referred all cases
instead to the religious courts — a de facto imposition of Sharia.
That resolution was cancelled by Paul
Bremer, the former US administrator.
With such external regulation gone,
secular women say that they fear for the future.
Dr Udaebey is not for turning.
“Look,” she says, as she explains why she would be obliged to give
up her job in parliament if her husband wanted her to, “I didn’t
make the law, God did, so it can’t be changed. This is the way
BRING ALL THE
TROOPS HOME NOW!
One Million Iraqis
Flee “Liberated” Hell
Journal, April 1, 2005, Pg. 8)
When the United States invaded Iraq,
neighboring countries prepared for a wave of refugees. But few
showed up. Instead, the exodus
of Iraqi refugees has happened in slow motion over the past two
years, leaving as many as a million new Iraqis living in Jordan and
Syria alone and overwhelming the scant resources available to take
care of them.
CZ, who sent this in.]
CLASS WAR NEWS
Tariq Ramadan Calls
For Freeze On Corporal Punishment
“A still more
grave injustice is that these penalties are applied almost
exclusively to women and the poor, the doubly victimized, never to
the wealthy, the powerful, or the oppressors.
March 30, 2005 (IslamOnline.net)
Tariq Ramadan, a world-renowned Muslim
thinker, issued Wednesday, March 30, a call for an international
moratorium in the Muslim world on the application of Hudud
(prescribed Islamic penalties), a call likely to stir controversy
among Muslim scholars.
“We are officially
launching today an international call for an immediate moratorium on
corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all majority
Muslim countries,” Ramadan said in a press release
obtained by IslamOnline.net.
“This call for a moratorium is being
made considering that the opinions of most Islamic scholars is
neither explicit nor unanimous (indeed even without a clear
majority) as far as the comprehension of the texts and to the
application of the Hudud.”
Ramadan further said the political
systems and the state of the majority Muslim societies do not
guarantee just or equal treatment of individuals before the law.
“A still more grave
injustice is that these penalties are applied almost exclusively to
women and the poor, the doubly victimized, never to the wealthy, the
powerful, or the oppressors.
hundreds of prisoners have no access to anything that could even
remotely be called defense counsel. Death sentences are decided and
carried out against women, men and even minors (political prisoners,
traffickers, delinquents, etc.) without ever given a chance to
obtain legal counsel.
“In resigning ourselves to having a
superficial relationship to the scriptural sources, we betray the
message of justice of Islam,” Ramadan argues.
“Other People Will
See What Is Going On”
From: XXX [Iraq veteran, active duty]
To: GI Special
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 11:19
Subject: Capitalism At Work Article
I just want to say
thank you for posting our story on your site. It means a great deal
to us that other people will see what is going on.
[For the story this
concerns, see in
GI Special 3A83: the story headlined:
Capitalism At Work:
“Don't Let Them
Hear You Cry"
Soldiers & Military
Families Raped By Profiteering Corporate Scum
Play To Win
From: t eto
To: GI Special
Sent: April 01, 2005
Subject: "love the show" / The media
i write only as an interested
my question to you is do you want to
break through the media silence that surrounds DC's treatment of
how would it have
been if at Terri Schiavo's vigil there was a peaceful / disciplined
/ focused, yet outrageous 'action' to inform the public of the
government's neglect of veterans ? photogenic, in your face, forcing
the media to acknowledge it...
perhaps some of the
things that 'act-up' did are good examples...
what are the other
current media spectacles - baseball's opening day, michael jackson's
... play to win ...
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