Occupation Watch Bulletin

The Other Battle: Within the Ranks of the Troops

by Andrea Buffa
December 13th, 2004

Most Occupation Watch bulletins focus on the plight of the Iraqi people, who
 are the primary victims of the tragic war against and occupation of their
 country. But this bulletin will shed light on unrest and disaffection within
 the ranks of the occupation troops, the other victims of this war, who
 continue to die on a daily basis for the mistakes, greed and lies of their
 countries' politicians.
 As of December 13, 2004, 1,294 U.S. troops, 74 U.K. troops, and 72 troops
 from other countries (Poland, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Ukraine Bulgaria,
 Thailand, Estonia, El Salvador, Netherlands, Slovakia, Latvia, and Hungary)
 have been killed in the Iraq war, according to the website Iraq Coalition
 Casualty Count: http://icasualties.org/oif/
 More than half of these deaths - 888 of them - occurred after Saddam
 Hussein, the man whose evil supposedly engendered this war, was captured,
 one year ago today.
 Last month, November 2004, was the most deadly month for U.S. soldiers since
 the Iraq war began in March 2003. 136 US troops were killed in November,
 approximately 71 of them in the assault on Falluja. The second most deadly
 month for U.S. soldiers was April 2004, when 135 were killed in the first
 Falluja assault.
 In addition to these deaths, there are some 25,000 troops who have been
 wounded. The Pentagon's preferred statistic is 9,556 soldiers, a number that
 includes only those who have been "wounded in action". But this is just the
 tip of the iceberg. At the end of November, the Pentagon admitted to the
 news show "60 Minutes" that an additional 15,000 troops have been evacuated
 from Iraq due so-called 'non-battle' injuries:
 Iraq: The Uncounted
 The wounds are not minor ones. Many young soldiers have had faces, arms and
 legs blown off, according to a new article in the New England Journal of
 Medicine that includes a five-page spread of photographs graphically
 depicting the horrific injuries that are being suffered by U.S. soldiers:
 Casualties of War - Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan
 Caring for the Wounded in Iraq - A Photo Essay
 Tragically, these numbers will likely only continue to grow as the U.S.
 implements its plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq from about
 138,000 to 150,000, in time for the January 30 election. Most of the
 increase in troop count will come from the extended deployment of units
 already in Iraq. Some of these soldiers have had their combat tours extended
 over and over and over again. These extensions are most difficult for
 National Guard and Reserve Troops who have been dragged out of civilian life
 to fight for extended periods in Iraq while their families struggle to
 U.S. Troop Level In Iraq To Grow
 In this context, it is not surprising that resistance to the Iraq war is
 strengthening within the U.S. military. The most publicized story of
 resistance this week was of the soldiers who questioned Defense Secretary
 Donald Rumsfeld during a town hall meeting about poor combat equipment,
 extended tours of duty, and pay delays:
 Rumsfeld Gets Earful From Troops
 But other stories this week told of greater problems being faced by the
 military - low morale, high rates of desertion, officer shortages, and
 U.S. deserter numbers reach 5,500
 US Army plagued by desertion and plunging morale
 Officer crisis hits Army Reserve
 Eight Soldiers Plan to Sue Over Army's Stop-Loss Policy
 This week also saw the first hearing of a U.S. soldier who is applying for
 asylum in Canada. The soldier, Jeremy Hinzman, says that he refuses to go to
 war in Iraq because he doesn't want to be forced to commit war crimes. And
 in San Diego, a Navy sailor, Pablo Paredes, refused to board his ship as it
 prepared to embark for the Persian Gulf. He told reporters that when he
 joined the Navy he "never imagined, in a million years, we would go to war
 with somebody who had done nothing to us."
 Former Marine Testifies to Atrocities in Iraq
 Unit Killed Dozens of Unarmed Civilians Last Year, Canadian Refugee Board Is
 Told  http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=8264
 Navy Sailor Charged As "Deserter and Fugitive" After Refusing Iraq
 Deployment  http://www.occupationwatch.org/article.php?id=8265
 Meanwhile, the rhetoric that we must "support the troops" by remaining
 silent about the worsening situation in Iraq, rings hollow when it reaches
 the doorstep of the homeless shelter, which is where returning Iraq war
 veterans are already showing up:
 Homeless Iraq vets showing up at shelters
 Occupation Watch urges people who are concerned about these issues and know
 that the best way to support these troops - and the Iraqi people - is to
 bring them home immediately, to seek assistance from the following
 Bring Them Home Now
 Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors
 GI Rights Hotline
 Iraq Veterans Against War
 Military Families Speak Out
 Veterans For Peace
 We also refer our readers to Michael Moore's new book, Will They Ever Trust
 Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to Michael Moore, for more about these
 issues in the soldiers' own words:
 Dear Mike, Iraq Sucks
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