Soldiers in Revolt: 218
active duty troops call to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq
by Christian Avard, The Raw Story, 25 October 2006
For the first time since the U.S.
invasion of Iraq, active-duty members of the military are publicly
appealing members of Congress to end the U.S. occupation, RAW STORY has
Under the Military Whistleblower
Protection Act (DOD directive 7050.6), active-duty military, National
Guard, and Reservists can send a protected communication to a member of
Congress regarding any subject without reprisal.
Earlier this week, 65 military service
members and National Guardsmen sent appeals for redress to members of
Congress to urge an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. That total is now up
to 219 service men and women, 125 of whom are on active duty.
Three active-duty servicemen (one of whom
spoke under condition of anonymity) held a press conference today, along
with a retired Judge Advocate General lawyer, to discuss their appeals.
"Many of us who have to follow orders and
took an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies both foreign
and domestic also have reservations about the orders. And," Jonathan
Hutto, a Navy Seaman based in Norfolk, Virginia, concluded, "at this
point some of us feel compelled to let our reservations be known and
that the occupation should come to an end right now."
Hutto added the group are not pacifists
or conscientious objectors and are not urging any actions that might be
Liam Madden, a Sergeant in the United
States Marine Corps stationed at Quantico, continued, "The real
grievances are, if democracy is our goal than I believe we are going
about it all wrong. The occupation is perpetuating more violence and I
think is the biggest destabilizing thing we can do to the Middle East."
One service member, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity of his recent year in Iraq, said that he, "was
hit by IEDs, by mortars... I was hit by snipers in my convoy and I've
seen friends injured and affected by deaths in my brigade and my unit. I
can tell you that many of them are not quite sure what their purpose or
focus is now."
"A lot of people don't want to admit it,"
he insisted, "but we are stuck in a civil war and it's hard for the
soldiers seeing the ethnic fighting going on around them and feeling
like they're stuck in the cross fire and not really feeling like there's
anything they can do to stop it."
"And it's very frustrating to go out in
convoys and get hit and not really sure why it is and not seeing any
tangible results for their actions," he added. "I think it's very
important that Congress members and people understand that we do have a
voice, and pay attention to our surroundings and what's going on and
listen to what we have to say."
Appealing for redress
Hutto explained that the idea of issuing
Appeals for Redress originated in early 2006, when he was deployed off
the coast of Iraq on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt.
"An old buddy of mine, who was a member
of the GI movement back in the early 1970s," Hutto explained, "sent me a
30th anniversary copy of Soldiers in Revolt, written by David
Cortwright. The book chronicles the GI movement within the military
during the Vietnam War who advocated to end that war and bring the
Hutto continued, "One of the avenues that
they used, which was a legal one, is appealing to their political
leaders in Washington. By 1971 over 250,000 of these active duty
servicemen had appealed to the Congress people."
"None of the Marines know that there is a
policy available to them," Madden added, "and that it's everybody's duty
to support democracy and do it much more effectively than we are in
exercising these rights in Iraq."
J.E. McNeil, a former military JAG
lawyer, emphasized that all servicemen and women still have their rights
as U.S. citizens and can exercise them when need be.
"When men and women join the military and
put on the uniform, they don't give up their rights as U.S. citizens,"
said McNeil, though "there may be some small limitations to their first
"They are supposed to be very clear,"
McNeil elaborated, "and they have been, that they're speaking on their
own behalf and not using any of the military resources to make these
statements that are their own beliefs, and we should be very proud of
them to do that."
Fear of reprisal
Many in the military fear reprisals for
coming forth, even though they have the legal right to do so.
One soldier in the Army, who participated
anonymously in the press conference had more information to reveal,
saying, "Anyone who's been involved in the military does know there are
informal means of punitive actions that circumvent the legal system
which are often used in different means to intimidate soldiers."
"I've talked to numerous soldiers," the
anonymous soldier said, "and obviously looking at the numbers now, they
obviously haven't stepped forward. I will tell you, though and I don't
think the American Public realizes just how many soldiers and service
members in general really do have reservations about the actions going
on in Iraq.
"And fear," he added, is a main reason
why people aren't stepping forward. I think that once they start seeing
momentum going forward and more and more service members come out, that
they will be more inclined to come out as well."
"It's costing way too many humans, Iraqi
civilians, and American service member lives," Madden concluded, "and
brings us no benefits. The only people who benefit in my eyes are
corporations like Halliburton. I don't think that war is being paid for
in the right manner and I think that if people want to support the
troops then they should support us coming home."
Appeal for Redress may be contacted
via their website at