Saturday, October 16, 2004

Hell No, They Won’t Go

From the New York Times:

The Army is investigating members of a Reserve unit in Iraq who refused to deliver a fuel shipment north of Baghdad under conditions they considered unsafe, the Pentagon and relatives of the soldiers said Friday. Several soldiers called it a “suicide mission,” relatives said.

Some 18 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company, based in Rock Hill, S.C., were detained at gunpoint for nearly two days after disobeying orders to drive trucks that they said had not been serviced and were not being escorted by armed vehicles to Taji, about 15 miles north of Baghdad, relatives said after speaking to some of the soldiers.

Jackie Butler of Jackson, Miss., the wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Butler, 44, said she was awakened about 5:30 or 6 a.m. Thursday by a call from an officer from Iraq. He told her “that my husband was being detained for disobeying a direct order,” Ms. Butler said, “and he went on to tell me that it was a bogus charge that they got against him and some of those soldiers over there, because what they was doing was sending them into a suicide mission, and they refused to go.”

A senior Army officer said that 19 soldiers from the unit had been assembled Wednesday morning to deliver fuel but that some had refused to go. He denied they had been held under guard.

The officer said the soldiers raised “some valid concerns.”

“Unfortunately it appears that a small number of the soldiers involved chose to express their concerns in an inappropriate manner,” said the officer, who discussed the preliminary findings only on the condition of anonymity. Insubordination in wartime is a grave offense, and an inquiry is under way, the officer said, to determine if the Uniform Code of Military Justice was violated and whether disciplinary measures were warranted.

That reminds me of a quote from M*A*S*H (the TV series):

Colonel Flagg: I’ve got to nip this guy in the bud. This sort of behavior is contagious, you know. One guy decides he’s not gonna fight anymore, it catches on, and pretty soon you know what we’ve got?

B.J.: Peace?