Saturday, October 16, 2004

17 US soldiers held in Iraq after disobeying orders

The Military is the neocons weak link part 942. Its starting:

A PLATOON of United States soldiers were under arrest in Iraq last night after refusing to carry out a dangerous mission for which they say they were inadequately equipped.

In the extraordinary incident, which suggests the morale of US forces might be much lower than previously thought, 17 soldiers from the US army reserve disobeyed the order to deliver fuel to Taji, north of Baghdad, on the grounds that their vehicles were considered "deadlined" or extremely unsafe, and unable to travel at above 40mph on the Iraqi roads.

The unit was also not offered the usual convoy escort of armed Humvees and attack helicopters, it was reported.

The event is a gift to US president George Bush’s opponent John Kerry, who has consistently criticised the handling of the war.

It also increases the concerns for British troops in Iraq after reports that the Black Watch regiment could be put under US command and sent into hotspots like Baghdad or Najaf.

A statement from the US army’s press centre in Baghdad yesterday confirmed the soldiers’ rebellion: "The Commander General of the 13 Corps Support Group has appointed a deputy commander to lead an investigation into allegations that members of the 343 Quartermaster Company refused to participate in their assigned convoy mission on 13 October."

Relatives have defended the soldiers’ decision.

Patricia McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understood what it meant to disobey orders. But he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip.

"He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were deadlined ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that," Mrs McCook told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper of Mississippi.

The refusal to carry out orders will fuel persistent claims that the US military in Iraq is inadequately equipped and undermanned.

The US army has already announced it will prevent soldiers in units set for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan from leaving the service at the end of their terms, in a move that critics have described as a return of the draft.

The announcement, an expansion of an army programme called "stop-loss", means that thousands of soldiers who had expected to retire or otherwise leave the military must now stay on for the duration of their deployment to those combat zones.

The US army is also struggling to find fresh units to continue the US-led campaign in Iraq.

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