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Mutiny on the Bounty ? 1) Pentagon may punish GIs who spoke out on TV 2) Sad Soldiers Say ==================== http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/07/18/MN248299.DTL Friday, July 18, 2003 Pentagon may punish GIs who spoke out on TV Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, July 18, 2003 Fallujah, Iraq -- Morale is dipping pretty low among U.S. soldiers as they stew in Iraq's broiling heat, get shot at by an increasingly hostile population and get repeated orders to extend their tours of duty. Ask any grunt standing guard on a 115-degree day what he or she thinks of the open-ended Iraq occupation, and you'll get an earful of colorful complaints. But going public isn't always easy, as soldiers of the Army's Second Brigade, Third Infantry Division found out after "Good Morning America" aired their complaints. The brigade's soldiers received word this week from the Pentagon that it was extending their stay, with a vague promise to send them home by September if the security situation allows. They've been away from home since September, and this week's announcement was the third time their mission has been extended. It was bad news for the division's 12,000 homesick soldiers, who were at the forefront of the force that overthrew Saddam Hussein's government and moved into Baghdad in early April. On Wednesday morning, when the ABC news show reported from Fallujah, where the division is based, the troops gave the reporters an earful. One soldier said he felt like he'd been "kicked in the guts, slapped in the face." Another demanded that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quit. The retaliation from Washington was swift. CAREERS OVER FOR SOME "It was the end of the world," said one officer Thursday. "It went all the way up to President Bush and back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose our careers." First lesson for the troops, it seemed: Don't ever talk to the media "on the record" -- that is, with your name attached -- unless you're giving the sort of chin-forward, everything's-great message the Pentagon loves to hear. Only two days before the ABC show, similarly bitter sentiments -- with no names attached -- were voiced in an anonymous e-mail circulating around the Internet, allegedly from "the soldiers of the Second Brigade, Third ID." "Our morale is not high or even low," the letter said. "Our morale is nonexistent. We have been told twice that we were going home, and twice we have received a 'stop' movement to stay in Iraq." The message, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, concluded: "Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like farm animals. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home." After this one-two punch, it was perhaps natural that on Thursday, the same troops and officers who had been garrulous and outspoken in previous visits were quiet, and most declined to speak on the record. During a visit to Fallujah, a small city about 30 miles west of Baghdad, military officials expressed intense chagrin about the bad publicity. And they slammed the ABC reporters for focusing on the soldiers' criticism of Rumsfeld, Bush and other officials and implying that they are unwilling to carry out their mission. COMPLAINTS CALLED ROUTINE "Soldiers have bitched since the beginning of time," said Capt. James Brownlee, the public affairs officer for the Second Brigade. "That's part of being a soldier. They bitch. But what does 'bad morale' really mean? That they're not combat-ready or loyal? Nobody here fits that definition." The nervousness of the brass has a venerable history. It has long been a practice in American democracy that the military do not criticize the nation's civilian leaders, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur found out in 1951, when he criticized President Harry Truman's Korean War strategy -- and was promptly fired. Yet several U.S. officers said privately that troop morale is indeed low. "The problem is not the heat," said one high-ranking officer. "Soldiers get used to that. The problem is getting orders to go home, so your wife gets all psyched about it, then getting them reversed, and then having the same process two more times." In Baghdad, average soldiers from other Army brigades are eager to spill similar complaints. "I'm not sure people in Washington really know what it's like here," said Corp. Todd Burchard as he stood on a street corner, sweating profusely and looking bored. "We'll keep doing our jobs as best as anyone can, but we shouldn't have to still be here in the first place." Nearby, Pfc. Jason Ring stood next to his Humvee. "We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either," he said. "So why are we still here? Why don't they bring us home?" E-mail Robert Collier at firstname.lastname@example.org. ------------------------- 2) http://www.sierratimes.com/03/07/15/guestoped_ks.htm This Article Published 07. 14. 03 at 22:18 Sierra Time Sad Soldiers Say By Kristina Simmons When you hear about “heroes”, you think of people whom you would envy. None of us asked to be called heroes, or anything else. For the past 9 months we have lived a hard life. We trained for nearly 6 months before the war started, were the first U.S. forces into Iraq on March 20th, and were responsible for the daring strike into Baghdad on April 7th and 8th that virtually ended the war. We are the forgotten and betrayed soldiers of 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, also known as the “Send Me” Brigade. Our Task Force motto is “Can Do”, and we have been living true to those words for a very long time. We are also the unit that is sitting in the city of Al Fallujah, as we enter the month of July. Our men and women have completed every mission we have been given, even when that mission kept us from coming home on time. We have received the occasional newspaper, each one showing us that the rest of the armed forces are returning home…even as we are getting orders for our next mission. We also read the letters that our Commanding General (MG Buford Blount) writes in our local newspaper. Each time we read his words our desperation grows deeper, because we know that most of our countrymen are hearing his lies about our situation here. Our morale is not high or even low. Our morale is non-existent. We have been told twice that we were going home, and twice we have received a stop movement to stay in Iraq. Where is the honor and integrity the army preaches to soldiers in Basic Training? The closer you get to the front lines, the worse the soldiers get treated. Every single one of my men has diarrhea, because none of us on the front lines have had a single fresh vegetable in over a month. Meanwhile MG Blount and his cronies are enjoying Burger King at Baghdad International Airport (which we captured). The 3rd Infantry Division soldiers feel betrayed, and forgotten. Many of our brothers in arms have paid the ultimate price to help liberate this country. Every one of us has made sacrifices, and what is our reward? Being treated like farm animals. We have had more support from the press, who were embedded with us throughout the fight, than we have ever received from our chain of command. Our troops, and our equipment are worn out. Many of our troops have been through some truly terrible experiences; They have been told by mental health professionals that they need to get out of this environment. MG Blount, and LTG Sanchez (the V Corps Commander) however, either don’t care about those of us out here on the front lines or they have been lied to by their subordinates and have passed those lies on to the rest of the world. In closing, all I am really trying to ask for is your help. Please send this letter on to your representatives in congress and to your local media, and ask them to get the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division home. Our men and women deserve to be treated like the heroes they are, not like neighborhood mongrels. Our men and women deserve to see their loved ones again and deserve to come home. Thank you for your attention, Sincerely, The Soldiers of 2nd Brigade, 3rd ID This letter was written 1 July. Since that time they were given instructions July 8, 2003, that they were to pack up for the return to Fort Stewart by August 1, 2003, On July 12, 2003 that order was rescinded and they were told they were extended in Iraq until September 30 at the earliest. So once again they have been deceived. Please do not be fooled by the news reports that our soldiers are getting the best of the best they can offer. They are not, they are in need of personal items they cannot buy. They are in need of uniforms, which the Army continues to promise to replace, along with boots and fresh food. They are not getting these things. The soldiers you see returning were deployed in February and March of 2003. The soldiers who captured Baghdad have been there since October, some since September, and this is their 2nd add on mission since the end of the war. How long are we as Americans supposed to put up with this mistreatment of OUR people? How long can we be angry that the world has no trust in us, while our soldiers in Iraq are in pain? The grandiose of the return of some soldiers is a trick to mask the reality of the situation. The war is not over, it is far from over, and now the lies are being discovered. We as American need to confront our congressmen and politicians, whom we as a people have elected to represent us, until they are forced to tell the truth and face this reality. We are duty bound to expose the truth. The soldiers and the families of those soldiers need your help, they have been gone from their families for such a long period of time they are almost strangers to us. PLEASE take time to pass this on and take some action!! We as family members of these soldiers are not ashamed of the job that these soldiers have done. We are proud of them for doing the things that they have been ordered to do, at all costs to them and us. We bring no shame to our men and women; the shame is our government and the people who are making the ill planned decisions concerning our soldiers. We know that they signed up to serve and protect, and although they are tired, worn, broken and feeling betrayed, they are still soldiers, they will carry on -- they will get job after job done and with honor. Find the time in your busy lives to do something to help these soldiers come home. Call your representatives, send letters to them concerning the situation, and ask them what they are planning to do about it. These soldiers are men and women from all of our communities and families who are also Americans. Thank you _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk