Monday, December 06, 2004

Dissension in the Ranks

Remember those Army Reserve soldiers who refused to drive broken-down trucks with unusable fuel on a fool's mission down one of the most dangerous corridors in the coutry, just because they didn't want to die? The Army has dropped its plans to court-martial them, though it does intend to punish them in less severe ways:

"The soldiers from the 343rd Quartermaster Company, based in Rockhill, N.C., may be assigned extra duties or face reductions in rank, military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said...
They felt they didn't have the proper equipment to do the mission they were ordered to do and are being disciplined for failing to follow orders,'' Boylan said."
It's hard not to conclude that some very strange twists are being taken here, given that this is the armed services, wherein one is often little more than a cog whose only usefulness is how well and fast one takes orders, and given the combat situation, in which refusal to carry out orders can result in a firing squad. Then I see this at the NYTimes:

"The eight soldiers come from places scattered across the country, from this small town an hour northwest of Little Rock to cities in Arizona, New Jersey and New York. In Iraq and Kuwait, where they all work now, most of them hold different jobs in different units, miles apart. Most have never met.
But the eight share a bond of anger: each says he has been prevented from coming home for good by an Army policy that has barred thousands of soldiers from leaving Iraq this year even though the terms of enlistment they signed up for have run out. And each of these eight soldiers has separately taken the extraordinary step of seeking legal help, through late-night Internet searches and e-mail inquiries from their camps in the conflict zone, or through rounds of phone calls by an equally frustrated wife or mother back home.
With legal support from the Center for Constitutional Rights, a liberal-leaning public interest group, lawyers for the eight men say they will file a lawsuit on Monday in federal court in Washington challenging the Army policy known as stop-loss."
I don't give much for their chances on this, given that the army reserves the right to do just about anything it damned well pleases, and given this administration's intolerance for dissent and contempt for life, but it sure is fascinating to see these long simmering frustrations finally playing out.

But don't worry, warhogs---Ben Nelson of the Senate Armed Services Committee has assurances from the Army coalition commander General George Casey that more bodies are on the way! He and those other war heroes Saxby Chambliss and Jon Kyl put a bug in Casey's ear that they were fearful maybe there might not be enough cannon fodder to absorb the continuing attacks in Iraq. But luckily, Casey assured them:

"“It’s not my prerogative, but I think you can expect an announcement in the near future that more troops will be going there,” Nelson said in a telephone interview from Omaha, one day after returning from a six-day visit to five nations in the Persian Gulf region."
Not only that, but a quick meal with a few suitably intimidated young soldiers has assured them that morale is good!
" The senators were encouraged by signs of improved troop morale after sharing Thanksgiving dinner with soldiers from their respective states. "
Well, thank Christ for that! I was beginning to fear there might be a little concern amongst our troops that maybe the government didn't have their best interests at heart.

I'm sure Mr. Nelson and Mr. Chambliss will be the first to volunteer should we need a draft.

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