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The Lies Are Coming Home: Questions and Outrage Among Military Families (english)
01 Sep 2003
RW ONLINE: The Lies are Coming Home
The Lies are Coming Home
Questions and Outrage Among Military Families
Revolutionary Worker #1211, August 24, 2003, posted at rwor.org
"Somewhere down the line, we became an occupation force
in their eyes. We don't feel like heroes any more. We are
outnumbered. We are exhausted. We are in over our
Kindblade, 671st Engineer Company
"It doesn't seem like anybody higher up cares to realize
what these soldiers have been through, or what they're going
through on a daily basis. I can guarantee you they've never
stood out in a checkpoint in the heat of the day, day after
day, full battle rattle, always wondering if today's the day
somebody's going to shoot me."
officer, speaking to Knight- Ridder
"We were supposed to go home as soon as the war was
over... The morale of the men is very low. I'm an NCO so I'm
not supposed to share my feelings with them, but sometimes I
see them walking around like zombies."
"That's my biggest fear, that my husband will come back
different. Even if you're GI Joe, if you have to kill someone,
that's not something you just forget about."
Valerie Decal, the
wife of an artillery sergeant, Fort Hood
The war is not turning out the way the U.S. soldiers were
told it would.
They were told that "the fastest way to go home is through
Baghdad"--and months later, they are still manning roadblocks
in the blinding summer heat, with no end in sight.
These soldiers were told they would be welcomed as
"liberators." They find themselves acting as occupiers--under
fire from a hostile population.
They were told the war would help make their families more
secure. But no "terrorist links" or weapons of mass destruction
have been found.
President Bush announced victory on May 1. A few days later,
one soldier wrote his parents about pulling dead GIs from a
downed helicopter: "I had blood all over me, and all I could
think about was this guy's wife and kids who were in his wallet
staring at me. The war is over? Yeah, tell that to these guys'
The lies of this war are coming home, and the soldiers are
A deep sense of betrayal is spilling over --from the
soldiers themselves to their families back home.
Telling the Soldiers to Shut Up
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division was a spearhead in the
invasion. The division's 2nd Brigade mowed into Baghdad's
southern suburbs in early April -- leaving thousands of Iraqi
civilians and soldiers dead in the streets. In May they were
sent to occupy Fallujah, where U.S. killing of civilians
quickly intensified resistance among the people.
After months in the war zone, the soldiers of the 3rd's
First and Second Brigades expected to go home--and were given
three different return dates in just a few weeks.
On July 14, they were told their return was postponed. The
Pentagon needed soldiers for punishing "sweeps" through
hundreds of villages and neighborhoods. The soldiers felt
Sgt. Terry Gilmore described breaking the news to his wife:
"I just felt like my heart was broken. I could not figure out
how they could keep us here after they told us we were coming
In an interview with ABC, Spc. Clinton Deitz said: "If
Donald Rumsfeld was here, I'd ask him for his resignation."
"I've got my own `Most Wanted' list," one sergeant told ABC.
"The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George
Bush and Paul Wolfowitz."
The Pentagon responded to these interviews with threats. One
officer said, "It went all the way up to President Bush and
back down again on top of us. At least six of us here will lose
The 3rd Infantry Division announced reporters could no
longer interview soldiers. No more journalists will be
"embedded" with the unit.
General John Abizaid, the Central Command's top officer,
said, "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 said "commanders on the
scene" would decide what punishments to lay down.
The military newspapers reminded all soldiers that the
Uniform Code of Military Justice states soldiers can be
imprisoned for up to three years for making "disloyal
statements." The Pentagon has not needed to press such charges
since the Vietnam war.
For many soldiers, used to thinking of themselves as
"citizens with freedom of speech"-- the open threat of prison
came as a rude shock.
Spc. Brandon Gullen, of the 864th Engineer Battalion, said
in an e-mail from Iraq: "I find it absurd that these same
people we put our lives on the line for can punish us for
having our own opinions-- which, in effect, is punishing our
Meanwhile, Stephen Eagle Funk, a courageous GI resistor, is
facing a military trial in early September where he faces a
possible prison sentence for "unauthorized absence."
And the Pentagon has announced that soldiers sent to Iraq
must now accept doing a full year tour there -- they
called their announcement "rotation predictability."
The Families Speak Out
"Frankly, I am sick and tired of hearing Pentagon
officials, generals, politicians, and people at the Defense
Department continue to say that the morale of the troops is
still high, when every single person knows full well that it
wife of a helicopter pilot, in an e-mail sent from a U.S. base
in Germany to the Army's Stars and Stripes
"The brass will have no control over us, however, and
those same people (mostly courageous women) will be able to say
what they want, when they want, and we'll protect their
identities if that's what they need....We are going directly to
those upon whom our would-be emperors depend to carry out their
grandiose and deadly vision ---the military. "
Stan Goff, former
Green Beret, father of a soldier and member of "Military
Families Speak Out"
"The War in Iraq is Not Over!!! The President says "Bring
'em on!" but it is our loved ones that are facing the bullets
and we say: Bring Them Home NOW!!! "
from the website
of "Military Families Speak Out"
Many of the families of the GIs live in communities around
army bases--where the bitter e- mails from Iraq spread painful
questions about the war.
A lot of these families remain deeply patriotic and
pro-military--and quite a few think the war was originally
justified. But suddenly much of what they believed no longer
makes sense--and many feel the government broke faith with
To add insult to injury, the White House is cutting funds
for families of deployed soldiers, is planning to reduce the
"imminent danger" pay, and opposes increasing the benefits for
combat deaths--from $3,000 to $6,000.
Many were horrified by Bush's now famous taunt to the Iraqi
resistance: "Bring 'em on!"
Marticia, mother of a soldier, wrote in an open letter: "May
I just say, Mr. President, perhaps you truly do believe in the
invincibility of our military. However, the next time you
invite attacks on my son, and others, kindly stand in front of
our soldiers, rather than hiding behind."
"Some wives are starting to question why we're there in the
first place," says Claudia Barnett, an Army wife shopping
outside Fort Stewart in Georgia.
When the Fort Stewart base command organized a mass meeting
of 800 spouses in July to explain the continuing deployment of
the 3rd Infantry Division, the frustrations boiled over into a
near riot. One social worker on the base said: "They were
crying, cussing, yelling, and screaming for their men to come
back." A colonel had to be "escorted" out--to protect him from
the soldiers' wives.
Afterwards Anita Blount, wife of 3rd Infantry Division's
Commanding General, openly accused the protesting military
families of encouraging the Iraqi resistance. She wrote in an
open letter: "I know that many of you believe you should embark
on a campaign to raise awareness of the need for [the 3rd
Infantry] to return. We need to be aware of a possible outcome
of our outcries that could backfire on us directly. When the
Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans publicly
campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are
encouraged and believe their strategy is working."
Military commanders are threatening to "end the careers" of
soldiers whose family members speak out around the war. But
despite such pressure, military families have continued to find
ways to state their demands. At Fort Stewart, soldiers' wives
even held a public protest rally in the parking lot of a local
All of this is quite remarkable--and almost unheard of over
the past decades. The speed with which some families have
turned against this war is a sign of how quickly the official
lies have come apart, and how bleak this occupation looks to
the GIs occupying Iraq.
In an August 13 press conference, the group "Military
Families Speak Out" announced they were calling for the
immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and added they
saw no justification for the deployment in the first place.
Susan Schuman, a member whose son is a Massachusetts
National Guardsman in Iraq, said: "Our soldiers are
demoralized. They are fighting an illegal and unjustified
Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of the group, said: "We believe
very strongly that the reason that we're over there had nothing
to do with weapons of mass destruction and had nothing to do
with links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, that it was in
fact about oil markets and empire building. That's not what we
should be doing."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on
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