Soldiers say they are being threatened with Iraq duty
September 17, 2004 2:12 AM   Subscribe

Another good one for "the troops". Iraq is being used to blackmail soldiers to re-enlist, or else...
posted by acrobat (37 comments total)
Damn! Only after I posted this I found out homunculus had a link to a similar article in this thread. Mea culpa. You can take it out Matt. Sorry.
posted by acrobat at 2:56 AM on September 17, 2004

Personally, I hope Matt keeps it, as this story deserves a FPP.

I've been covering this in my journal, basing my report on the story in the Denver Post, and a friend of mine has confirmed it after checking with someone on base.

"Dec statement folks will be PCSed (moved) and potentially these will be moves to other units, which may be deploying. Branch (our career managers at DC who handle placement) sends soldiers where the numbers are needed, not where the units tell these soldiers they are going. It isn't up to them."

To add insult to injury, these soldiers already served in Iraq recently, returning home after over 14 months. Post-deployment psychological evaluations with these soldiers and their families revealed "a wave of serious mental health problems."

These guys do extra months on tour of duties, thanks to stop loss, and apparently they're going to face going back again for more of the same. It's unconscionable. That said, if they choose to re-up, they'll probably find themselves back in Iraq sometime during their enlistment anyway...
posted by insomnia_lj at 3:14 AM on September 17, 2004

Da troops is da niggers of da damn nation.
posted by troutfishing at 4:28 AM on September 17, 2004

Why was “the troops” in double quotes?
posted by ed\26h at 4:34 AM on September 17, 2004

I don't want to sound callous but; once you sign up for military service your ass belongs to the government. Why the big boo hoo about being deployed into a war zone? If you don't want to be sent to war... don't join up! Or is that over simplifying it?
posted by DrDoberman at 4:38 AM on September 17, 2004

Quite simply: That's oversimplifying it.
posted by black8 at 4:46 AM on September 17, 2004

Quite simply: That's oversimplifying it.

posted by DrDoberman at 4:53 AM on September 17, 2004

because they just got back? because they're already suffering from that experience? because they shouldn't be threatened when deciding to re-up or not? because threatening to send them back if they don't re-up is very Saddamesque, and not something we should be doing?
posted by amberglow at 5:04 AM on September 17, 2004

I'm certain the 101st Fighting Keyboarders will be proud to step into the gap and deploy to Iraq so that these brave troops can honorably end their service without redeploying to the war zone. If not them, then the Chicken Hawks platoon will most assuredly volunteer. No? OK, then, how about the Champagne Brigade of the Young Republicans since they all think things are going so well over there? Oh, well, what trout said then.
posted by nofundy at 5:08 AM on September 17, 2004

Well the practice of promising good careers, good education and some money is the marketing of military ; I don't find it hard to believe that some if not most of recruiters are pressured to enlist or re-enlist as many as possible..maybe they're now even more pressured as the prospect of draft is politically unsustainable.

When they can't perform "well enough" they start employing a bag of dirty tricks offering you a false alternative : either enlist or go to an hellhole, but one that doesn't want to fight, will not fight and reenlisting this way is asking for big big troubles on the field

Interestingly enough, this kind of situation (prolonged attrition war) was foreseen in the past by George Bush Senior, when he wrote about the First Gulf Wars

Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome.

Setting aside the liberal vs neocon endless diatribe, one really starts wondering what the f*ck is up in WDC.
posted by elpapacito at 5:17 AM on September 17, 2004

Seems to me that anyone interested in re-enlisting would have done it in Iraq, as then your re-elistment bonus would be tax free due to the war zone.
That being said, the army would know who they had, because they most likely would have re-enlisted before returning stateside, which means they know the soldiers not interested in re-enlisting.
To even infer to a group of soldiers that just returned from Iraq, that failure to re-enlist means transfer to a unit that may be deployed to Iraq is obscene.

"The soldiers were not being told they will go to Iraq, but they may go to Iraq," said the spokesman, who confirmed the re-enlistment drive is under way."

Yeah right. Reading between the lines we see the intent here. This type of thing is wrong plain and simple. Whether it is intentional or a mistake on words, it is wrong, especially because you know the REMF's saying it probably did zero time in Iraq.

REMF= Rear Echelon Mother Fucker

Gotta love the military for acronyms.
posted by a3matrix at 5:19 AM on September 17, 2004

DrDoberman, because being deployed into a war zone is being used as a threat to force them to re-enlist. That's coersion just like if I come by your business and suggest that you buy my reasonably priced insurance plans or an accident might happen.

nofundy, I think that what's being done is wrong but I don't see that it calls for me to enlist. Obviously these soldiers don't feel that any threat to America has been expressed well enough to justify their continued service to the country, or they're tired of war, or they miss their families.
posted by substrate at 5:20 AM on September 17, 2004

Why was “the troops” in double quotes?

Because "the troops" is often referred to as something holly, whereas in fact, as troutfishing said, Da troops is da niggers of da damn nation.
posted by acrobat at 5:32 AM on September 17, 2004

That's coersion just like if I come by your business and suggest...

No, it's not the same. These people had already signed their rights away to Uncle Sam.
So who is going to reinforce the troops that are currently serving in Iraq... YOU? The military are (and need to be) free to deploy troops wherever they want! Guess what... war sucks!

What nofundy and trout said.
posted by DrDoberman at 5:34 AM on September 17, 2004

I contacted a soldier in Iraq I know about this. His reply?

"It wouldn't surprise me. I love the Army more every day . . . I fucking love the Army, and the Army loves fucking me."
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:35 AM on September 17, 2004

Colonel Klink envy
posted by substrate at 5:49 AM on September 17, 2004

From the Denver Post article:

A third option says: "Elect not to extend or reenlist and understand that the soldier will be reassigned in accordance with the needs of the Army ... or Fort Carson."

Is it possible that this option has been on the re-enlistment documents for years and that these are young soldiers who are up for their first re-enlist and are seeing it for the first time?

The option itself seems as innocent as military bureaucracy is likely to get. If strong-arming is actually happening using that vague option as the lever, well, it is inexcusable. Militaries have gotten away with much worse though.

[aside] I seem to remember reading a novel where soldiers couldn't leave the army if it was in a state of war. I'm thinking it was Starship Troopers by Heinlein. This sounds like something in the same ballpark, almost.
posted by sciurus at 5:52 AM on September 17, 2004

a3matrix: lemme reiterate that this is not only an obscene practice for a nation based on individual freedom , but it is also seriously dangerous as it creates a division on the field between soldiers that are willing to fight and soldiers that think they were forced to fight and nothing will bring that experience out of their mind.

on preview, substrate: or maybe the soldiers are exausted or fatigued , both mentally and physically as going around while risking getting a bullet between your eyes really wreaks any human being, no matter how visceral are their feelings and strong the propaganda behind them.

So the logical next step is to give them some well deserved rest well behind the lines..but given Iraq is a complete frontline, you have to fly them back home ( I wonder if they're still being unloaded at terminal as cattle or shipped back near their homes).

Replacements are of course needed and quite obviously I'd first pick among the at-home supporters of war, as their support implies necessarily that they're ready to fight for the just cause ; but it happens that most of them are just loudmouths that would be only useless and dangerous on the field.
posted by elpapacito at 5:53 AM on September 17, 2004

And there's going to be less and less people unwilling to enlist. 'Cause the soldiers know a few more things than American media lets be known. 'Cause their denial to re-enlist has got nothing to do with being unpatriotic. It has more to do with being human. After all, they are soldiers, not murderers.
posted by acrobat at 5:58 AM on September 17, 2004

Colonel Klink envy! Snrk, snrk, snrk....

Shoulda went Navy, guys.

I'm surprised that anybody in any combat branch is eligible to leave at all: I thought separations from the service were all on 'hold' because the Army is trying to hang on to people with combat experience or combat-arms training or both. Wasn't that the case a few months back? Would somebody with some recent experience please clarify this for me?
posted by alumshubby at 6:01 AM on September 17, 2004

The reason this is relevant -- and terrible -- is that it's another way that SecDef Rumsfeld & Co. are covering up the fact that they didn't allocate adequate resources (in this case, human resources) to fight this war. What do you call someone who acts tough and full of bluster but doesn't have their act together to get the job done?

If they're an employee, eventually you call them "fired."

This is another way that Rumsfeld & Co. are covering their asses to get them through this election.
posted by digaman at 6:35 AM on September 17, 2004

If I could have a dollar for every time the military fucked someone (think recruiters), I could pay off the national debt myself.
posted by angry modem at 6:36 AM on September 17, 2004

One of the soldiers provided the form to the News. If signed, it would bind the soldier to the 3rd Brigade until Dec. 31, 2007.

Unless the situation changes dramatically in the next couple of years, it seems highly unlikely that someone enlisted until 2007 would not at some point be shipped out (even if that means again). As alumshubby just mentioned, if you've already proven you can survive one tour without getting your head blown off, you're the kind of soldier we need.

A older friend of mine did three tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. Three tours. After each one he thought he'd be out, but his exceptional experience was often touted as a reason to keep him in. Which is a catch-22, really. The longer you stay alive, the more reason for them to keep putting you in harm's way.

He now suffers from near-debilitating PTSD.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:44 AM on September 17, 2004

Jesus. The army sounds like it's a week or two away from drugging unwitting sailors in bars and Shanghaiing them.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:53 AM on September 17, 2004

Wonder why the lack of davidmcs and a few others postings in this thread defending the military and this reported action? Do they pheer the Army of (n)One?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:41 AM on September 17, 2004

This has all the hallmarks of some local idiot trying to pull a fast one. Probably the post re-enlistment officer. And once word gets out, he is going to be relieved and might receive an oral reprimand. The follow-up will be a much more senior officer going to each one of these units to apologize and make *sure* that all the soldiers know that they will not be mistreated this way.
There is always some jackass who does something like this.
posted by kablam at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2004

It's apparently not an isolated case. I just had a soldier in Iraq tell me the following:

"My unit recieved similar threats when we deployed, but they never followed through., The Department of the Army decides who transfers where; there is nobody else that can. My unit is preparing to deploy again and MANY soldiers have been getting out when they are supposed to. "
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2004

Wonder why the lack of davidmcs and a few others postings in this thread defending the military and this reported action? Do they pheer the Army of (n)One?

No one needs to defend "the military." Recruiters are the military equivalent of used-car salesmen. They do whatever they need to do to make their quotas. I doubt it's anything more than that.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:45 AM on September 17, 2004

And yet another comment passed to me from a veteran. He points out that we missed an important detail regarding this matter:

"I first saw this posted on There's a lot of discussion there as well but a subtlety is being lost in the article (it's there, but not very clear to those who've never been in the Army): soldiers deployed to Iraq are kept there past the end of their enlistment .

Imagine you are 3 months from getting out of the Army, for good. Now they show you these papers - you can either sign up for 3 years (which means you are definitely going to Iraq at some point), or we ship you down the street to another unit that's deploying next month. Now guess what? once you arrive in Iraq, your ass stays there for at least a year, more like 14 months. An additional year on your enlistment that you never signed up for. It's like a drafting a trained soldier instead of conscripting a civilian.

I'm a veteran Army officer...but have no account on mefi so I'm hoping this gets your attention here."

It looks like he is referring to stop-loss. If your unit receives deployment orders, no one will leave that unit from 90 days before the deployment, through the duration of the deployment, and then 90 days after the deployment. It doesn't matter if you're about to leave the service or not... stop-loss can keep you in the service for over a year longer.

So, the threat isn't necessarily "Sign on for seven years or you'll risk spending the remainder of your four years in Iraq. " Rather, it's "Sign on for seven years, or you could end up spending an extra 16 or so months in the military anyway... all in Iraq."

Those extra three years may start to sound pretty tempting then, especially with the re-up bonus...
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:15 AM on September 17, 2004

insomnia: interesting. I wonder where the extra bonus moneyccumultated money goes if (we hope not) the soldiers is killed.


Value of Money ALIVE = $ you received
Value of Money DEAD = 0
posted by elpapacito at 12:02 PM on September 17, 2004

News Flash: Some recruitment officers get out of line and probably strongly implied or said something stupid.

This isn't particularly surpirisng, and it will no doubt get slapped down hard and quietly. The rest of the linked article is quoting from sources who are being honest... that someone with time left in their service may get re-assigned and that that may include to a unit that will go to Iraq.

That simple reality - that anyone in the military may find themselves in a combat zone could obviously have been presented as a threat by the recruiters and hopefully those recruiters will be reprimanded for it.

There is no need to "defend" this action, if it happened the way those troops say those recuitment officers crossed the line. However there is no indication that it is to be a widespread policy of threats.

That is, until Dan Rather can send an intern to a Kinkos.
posted by soulhuntre at 12:03 PM on September 17, 2004

It looks like he is referring to stop-loss. If your unit receives deployment orders, no one will leave that unit from 90 days before the deployment, through the duration of the deployment, and then 90 days after the deployment.

Well sure, but everyone in the military knows about stop loss. The thing is, if you're in a unit which might be deployed, you know about that. But if you're in a unit which isn't shipping out, and a recruiter comes to you and says, "we're going to transfer you to another unit that's shipping out if you don't re-up right now," that's a bit different, and it stinks.

I have a coworker who's a Marine reservist, and he's had himself transferred from one unit to another to avoid an immediate third deployment (!) to Iraq. He recently got promoted to warrant officer, and didn't pay attention to the fine print committing him to three more years of service.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2004

I don't know why anyone would be so concerned. Bush signed a contract that said he would immediately be placed on two year's active duty in Vietnam if he didn't fulfill his guard requirements and it worked out okay for him.
posted by JackFlash at 1:43 PM on September 17, 2004

insomnia_lj, you had some excellent quotes to add, thanks. I especially like the "Army fucking me" quote and would like to reuse it.

That said, HOLY SHIT! How anyone can not see this as out and our coercion is beyond me. Re-enlist or we're shipping you to another unit bound for Iraq? What the hell else could that be?

DrDoberman, you're either being obtuse on purpose or you aren't intellectually capable of grasping what coercion is. I'm hoping for the former because you like playing Devil's Advocate, if its the latter then, well, nevermind.
posted by fenriq at 5:03 PM on September 17, 2004

fenriq - I see no problem with you reusing the quote, although the soldier in question said that he can't take credit for it. He read it in the latrines in Baaquba (sp?), known affectionately by the soldiers serving there as Baaqaboom.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:13 PM on September 17, 2004

I'm not very impressed.
posted by euphorb at 12:12 AM on September 18, 2004

That quote probably originated with the romans. The version I orginally heard: "I fucking love this university and this university loves fucking me."
posted by Mitheral at 9:02 AM on September 19, 2004

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