Skip to comments.Griping Could Mean Charges for Soldiers
Posted on 07/18/2003 3:06:52 PM PDT by AntiGuv
WASHINGTON - The Army is considering whether to punish soldiers in Iraq who griped about conditions there to a television reporter, a Pentagon spokeswoman said Friday.
Some soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division complained to ABC-TV this week after their units were told they would be leaving Iraq soon, then had their homecoming postponed. One called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Criticism of superior officers is a breach of military rules. The Army will determine whether any soldier will be charged with breaking those rules, said Pentagon spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Diane Perry.
On Wednesday, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said the soldiers' comments show the frustration of troops who are ready to go home.
"Every now and then we've got to look at our young people and understand why they said what they said, and then do something about it," said Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command.
He said it was up to the soldiers' direct commanders to decide if they should be punished.
"None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense, or the president of the United States," he added.
Smooth move guys. I hope you're happy. As to ABC who aired this, they should have their licenses all pulled, every single affiliate who aired that. Let the network try to survive with no affiliates.
It's a violation of military LAW, not just rules, as others have posted. I'm sure the chain of command has put out the word reminding even the "bottom 10%" of their responsibilities, while reminding commanders and senior NCO's of their responsibilities to keep communicating with (and listening to) their troops.
We were "late" due to operational requirements on every deployment I was on. The guys don't like it, but they can handle it if they know the big picture. I had a young leftist in my division who made it clear he didn't like Reagan's military, had no respect for military authority. Though we counseled him in the hope that he'd just grow up, eventually the Navy agreed that he didn't belong in a uniform and gave him an Admin discharge.
Same thing will probably happen with these guys. I suspect the combination of Email (i.e. instant communication) and state-side political activism has brought these guys out of the wood-work. You know how easy it could be for a political agent of the Democrats to "sympathize" with a young wife and quietly whisper how much they care, and feel her pain, and how illegitmate the whole war is.. and how Bush stole his office in the first place and now has used his power to create this illegal war is, and how her husband would be home right now if Al Gore were the President.. etc.
It wouldn't be all that tough to get the wives of some young elisted men to write some letters, and talk to a reporter. So, I think the military will evaluate each situation. If the guy and his wife are part of some larger political, anti-war effort, or if he's been a discipline problem previously, or if he's simply unrelenting in public criticism, they'll get the soldier out of the service ASAP.
Otherwise, it'll be handled quietly with NJP (non-judicial punishment).
In the 1800s, officers tried to reat soldiers as severly as they treated underclassmen at West Point. That worked well in creating stellar officers who deeply cared about "God, Honor, and Country," but as we have always had "citizen soldiers" who came forward to leave civilian life behind to help with the military mission at hand, this was changed in the twentieth century to a more moderate treatment that took the citizen rights of soldiers more into consideration.
I was often told that the strenght of our soldiers who dared ask questions and sometimes bickered and complained was that they could be counted on taking charge if superiors were killed and they were called on to make sure they and their fellows accomplished the mission.
I'm sure this was more transitory and situational then indicative of a wholesale breakdown of unit cohesion and a lack of respct for the chain of command.
They should have their 'Richards' slapped. And if they did this again, then whether or not more stringent measures were implimented could be revisited.
I have faith that these are basically good men who care about their job. And I would fel better if they were given the oppertunity to prove this.
Creating deep fears of reprisal is no real way to run any army.
Military personnel agree to subordinate their constitutional rights to UCMJ when they swear their oath. They can't even go to a political rally in civilian cloths.
Reserve and Guard personnel can do so, but not in a forum where their military duties are identified in a public forum. For example, as a Naval Reserve officer, I was free to participate in National political campaigns, but if they referred to my active duty Reserve service (i.e. Commander SFS, USNR states "..President Bush is an illegal ursurper of his office ..", or "..President Clinton is a crook..", I'd be in hot water. Even if I was retired, I'm pretty certain the UCMJ would prohibit a retired military of member from, for example, insulting the President, etc..
Fear of reprisal is better than losing control of "good order and discipline". It's hard for civilians comprehend the sacrifice in terms of rules and rights that military men willingly accept as second nature.
A good soldier (or sailor, airman, or Marine) respects the chain-of-command, and that includes the Secretary of Defense and President. In fact, I cheated a bit during the Clinton years and went to an "inactive duty" status to get away from the corruption he brought to the military. Probably blue a 15 year career, but I couldn't stomach the gay Asst. Secy's of Defense & Navy I had to deal with. I nearly upchucked after every indoctrination meeting.
To say it is hot and nasty here and I want to go home is one thing but calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Defense is another.
Or is it latrine duty that is worse?
The sergeant in charge of the platoon obviously needs to be relieved; not for disrespect--which he did not demonstrate--but for failure to perform his duty as a leader. The soldier who called for Rumsfeld's resingation needs some type of formal punishment.
And most of all, the sergeant--a leader--who actually sought out the reporter to tell him that his most wanted cards included Bush and Rumsfeld--that guy needs to be identified and awarded the maximum punishment we can mete out for the appropriate charge under the UCMJ.
We should also take some action against ABC News. Not only did they air the whining and complaing from these guys. They also identified which unit they were in and where they were located (in Falluja I think). Coincidentally, since the report, the Saddam loyalists have attacked (and killed) several Americans in the immediate area.
Someone needs to remind these guys that when they complain publicly on TV like that, they might just get an early trip home in a box.
I also wonder if we Freepers should be organizing a boycott of all advertisers on ABC's evening news and "Good Morning America" programs as retalliation for their cooperation and aid to the enemy and to show our support for the troops.