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GI Special 4G26: Blown Up - July 26, 2006

"The Military Just Keeps Putting People Out There To Get Blown Up"
Cedarburg Man Says Son Killed On Duty In Iraq
He says the Army hasn't figured out how to protect its soldiers from explosive devices set by insurgents.
He says the military just keeps putting people out there to get blown up.


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GI Special 4G26: Blown Up - July 26, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

GI Special:



Print it out: color best. Pass it on.




[Thanks to Phil G, who sent this in.]



“The Military Just Keeps Putting People Out There To Get Blown Up”

Cedarburg Man Says Son Killed On Duty In Iraq


Jul 25, 2006 (AP)




A Cedarburg family is in mourning after learning their son was killed in Iraq.


Stephen Castner says his son, 27-year-old Steve Castner, died only days after being sent to the Middle East.


He says his family learned of the death just after noon yesterday.


According to his father, Specialist-Four Castner was a member of the 121st Field Artillery Regiment. He also served four years in the Air Force.


Castner says his son studied at U-W-Milwaukee and later transferred to U-W-Stevens Point.


He says the Army hasn't figured out how to protect its soldiers from explosive devices set by insurgents.


He says the military just keeps putting people out there to get blown up.











BAGHDAD, Iraq: A Servicemember assigned to the 43rd Military Police Brigade was killed in action while conducting combat operations north of Baghdad, July 25.



Texas Soldier Killed

Capt. Blake H. Russell, 35, a 101st Airborne Division soldier from Fort Worth, Texas, died July 22, 2006, while investigating a possible mortar cache during combat operations in Baghdad. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)



Cavalry Scout, 22, Dies Five Days After Roadside Bomb Attack

Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace of Lexington Park "chose to do this," his mother said of his Army career. (Family Photo)


July 24, 2006 By Donna St. George, Washington Post Staff Writer


Her son was a cavalry scout in Iraq, and yesterday Mary Wallace recalled his childhood in St. Mary's County -- shaping coat hangers into toy guns, asking for a bedspread done in Army camouflage. "I'm going to be a soldier man," she remembered him telling her.


Wounded on a combat mission, Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace, 22, died Friday in a military hospital in Germany, five days after a roadside bomb detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Baghdad. His family was gathered at his bedside -- mother, father and three sisters.


One sister read a final letter. One sang to him. "I think the most important thing to say about Matthew was that he chose this," his mother said. "He wasn't drafted. He knew he was taking a risk, but he chose to do this."


Deployed to Iraq eight months ago, Wallace was atop his vehicle as the gunner July 16 when the bomb went off, his family said. A fellow soldier was killed. Wallace survived but was burned over 95 percent of his body. Hopes that he would somehow make it faded, and his family members flew to Germany.


Told that he was brain dead, they withdrew life support.


The Wallace family returned to their Lexington Park home Saturday night, passing a convenience store where Wallace had once worked. The American flag outside "was all lit up and at half-mast, and it just touched us all so much," Mary Wallace said.


Just before her son went to war, he explained his reasons, his mother said. "He chose to go to war so that his sisters' children didn't have to," she said. "They don't even have children yet, but he didn't want them to have to go through what he knew he was getting into. He wanted to let them play in the shade of trees and laugh at what amused them with no fear of bombs dropping on them."


This was a decision he came to at 19, she said, after a period when he felt undecided about his life's course. He had dropped out of Great Mills High School, then earned his General Educational Development diploma in 2001.


When Wallace became a cavalry scout -- often working out in front of the larger unit -- he told his father, "I found the thing I do well," Keith Wallace recalled.


His father said Wallace had been partly inspired by his paternal grandfather, who served in the Army but died before Wallace's birth. "I told him all kinds of stories and showed him pictures of my dad, and we went through all sorts of scrapbooks," Keith Wallace said.


In Iraq, Wallace was assigned to the Army's 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Based out of Fort Hood, Tex., he had earned distinctions as a marksman and the Army Achievement Medal, his family said.


His parents said Wallace had a gift for humor and loved handwritten letters with details about ordinary life -- what his mother referred to as "the blah, blah letters . . . like, 'Then we went to Wal-Mart.' " "It must have made him feel he was with us vicariously," she said.


Lately he had called his family every few days, including just three days before the bomb blast.


"I asked him how he was," his father recalled. "He was kind of silent for a moment. 'Oh, okay, I guess,' he said." His father went on: "I made sure I comforted him with my abiding love for him and my pride in him. I think the rigors of war were beginning to wear on him."


Wallace, thin and muscular, had always loved music. He played guitar with friends in garage bands, went to concerts and bought piles of CDs. He wore a Walkman "even after they went out of style," said Mathew Korade, his closest friend since childhood.


After sending Wallace many care packages in Iraq, Korade said he had recently bought his friend an acoustic guitar, so he could play in the war zone. "I imagined him opening it," he said.


His voice softened into a near-whisper. "We were like brothers. I loved him more than anything. . . . I just wish he was coming home."



Iraq Whack-A-Mole Rolls On


July 26, 2006 By Washington correspondent Kim Landers, ABC/Reuters


The United States is shifting more troops into Baghdad from other parts of Iraq to try to curb violence in the capital.


The redeployment comes after the failure of a six-week-long security crackdown in the Iraqi capital.







Foreign Occupation Soldier Killed Near Dag Village:

Nationality Not Announced




BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan: A Coalition Soldier was killed July 24 while conducting combat operations against enemy extremists in the Pech District of Kunar Province.


The Soldier was a member of a Coalition patrol responding to an attack by insurgents near Dag Village.




That is not a good enough reason.

U.S. army personnel in the southern city of Kandahar July 24, 2006. A blast struck a vehicle carrying U.S. led forces in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Monday wounding two soldiers. REUTERS/Ismail Sameem (AFGHANISTAN)



Two U.S. Soldiers Serious Wounded In Khost Province;

One Wounded In Paktika


July 25 (Xinhua) & FISNIK ABRASHI, Associated Press


The U.S. military said Tuesday that two American engineer soldiers were seriously wounded in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Khost province.


Their convoy was on its way Sunday to an engineer road project between Khowst and Gardez when they were attacked.


The two soldiers are listed in serious but stable condition, according to the Coalition.


One coalition soldier was slightly wounded in Paktika province.







The Last Japanese Troops From Iraq Have Returned Home:

No More For Them

Japanese soldiers arrive at Somagahara military base in Shinto-mura, Gunma Prefecture, Japan. The last Japanese troops from Iraq have returned home. (AFP/File/Kazuhiro Nogi)



U.S. Troops Say Torture Of Detainees In Iraq Ordered By Officers;

Honorable Soldiers Threatened For Objecting


Human Rights Watch said that the report showed that criminal investigations of abuses need to follow the military chain of command, rather than focusing on low-level soldiers.


Human Rights Watch said that the report showed that criminal investigations of abuses need to follow the military chain of command, rather than focusing on low-level soldiers. To date, not a single military intelligence officer has been court-martialed in connection with abuse allegations in Iraq.


23rd July, 2006 Irish Sun


Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, according to new accounts from soldiers.


A Human Rights Watch report released Sunday contains first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel of abuses at an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport, and at other detention centers throughout Iraq.


"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. "These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional, on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."


The accounts reveal that detainee abuse was an established and apparently authorized part of the detention and interrogation processes in Iraq for much of 2003 through 2005. They also suggest that soldiers who sought to report abuse were rebuffed or ignored.


An interrogator who served at Camp Nama told Human Rights Watch that the leadership of his interrogation unit encouraged abuse. "People wanted to go, go, go harsh on everybody," he said. "They thought that was their job and that's what they needed to do, and do it every time."


The interrogator stationed at Camp Nama, said the commander of the interrogation unit there had to authorize the use of the abuse techniques, but that the authorizations were so common that interrogators used a template to fill out authorization forms.


"There was an authorization template on a computer, a sheet that you would print out, or actually just type it in. And it was a checklist, you would just check what you want to use off, and if you planned on using a harsh interrogation, you'd just get it signed off. I never saw a sheet that wasn't signed. It would be signed off by the commander, whoever that was. He would sign off on that every time it was done."


Human Rights Watch said that the new report shows how soldiers who felt abusive practices were wrong or illegal faced significant obstacles at every turn when they attempted to report or expose the abuses. For example, an MP guard at the facility near al-Qaim, who complained to an officer about beatings and other abuse he witnessed, was told, "You need to go ahead and drop this, sergeant."


The guard told Human Rights Watch, "It was repeatedly emphasized to me that this was not a wise course of action to pursue. 'You don't want to take this inquiry anywhere else,' kind of thing. 'You should definitely drop this; this is not something you wanna do to yourself.'


Human Rights Watch said that the report showed that criminal investigations of abuses need to follow the military chain of command, rather than focusing on low-level soldiers.


To date, not a single military intelligence officer has been court-martialed in connection with abuse allegations in Iraq. Human Rights Watch says it is unaware of any criminal investigations into wrongdoing by officers overseeing interrogations and detention operations in Iraq.


The organization Sunday called on the U.S. Congress to appoint an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the true scope of detainee abuse in Iraq, the complicity of higher-level officials, and the systemic flaws that make it difficult for soldiers to report abuses they witness.


Human Rights Watch also called on the president to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of abuse, including the military and civilian leaders who authorized or condoned abuse.


"It is now clear that leaders were responsible for abuses that occurred in Iraq," Sifton said. "It's time for them to be held accountable."



Military Suicides Rise With Endless Combat Rotations:

“The Fact That The DoD Isn’t Following Up With Almost 80 Percent Of Them Is An Outrage”


2006-07-24 By Terry Gildea, OPB News


The rate of suicide among US military personnel is on the rise.


It was nearly a year ago that the Army awarded Specialist Leslie Fredrick of Fort Lewis, Washington the Combat Action Badge for his service in Iraq.


Two weeks after getting the honor, Fredrick shot himself.


88 active duty soldiers killed themselves in 2005, a number that was up 13% over 2003 and more than 70% over 2001.


Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, calls the figures alarming.


And he says an overstretched military and repeat tours of duty are taking a toll on soldiers.


Paul Rieckhoff: "The last rotation, roughly 40% were there for the second time. Many are there now for the 3rd or 4th time. Divorce rates are going up, the violence continues to increase, and roughly one in three are coming home with mental health issues or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so our people are really showing signs of wear."


Recent evidence suggests the Defense Department is not effective in referring soldiers for mental health care.


About 5% of soldiers who've fought in Iraq and Afghanistan met criteria for PTSD in a study by the Government Accountability Office. But only one in five of those soldiers were referred for treatment by military clinicians.


The study's bottom line: the Pentagon cannot provide reasonable assurance that Afghanistan and Iraq service members who need referrals receive them.


Paul Reickoff calls the GAO results shameful.


Paul Reickoff: "That's a failure on the part of the DOD and a failure on the part of Secretary Rumsfeld. Most people won't even admit or be flagged on an issue, but when they do the fact that the DOD isn't following up with almost 80 percent of them is an outrage."


The Pentagon does not yet have figures on military suicide rates for 2006.



7000 From 25th ID Off To Bush’s Imperial Slaughterhouse, Again


July 24, 2006 Army Times


Schofield Barracks, Hawaii


About 7,000 soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division have begun deploying to Iraq.


The division’s 3rd Brigade, Combat Aviation Brigade, and 45th Sustainment Brigade are among the units being sent to northern Iraq for a yearlong tour.


Members of the 3rd Brigade fought in Afghanistan from March 2004 to March 2005. It is the unit’s first deployment to Iraq.



Straws In The Wind:

War Critics Emerge In Areas Tied To Military


7.25.06 USA Today


Some of the most pointed critiques of the administration's policy in Iraq are coming from lawmakers who represent constituencies with close ties to the military.



Equal Pay For Equal Work:

Mercenaries Get $12,000 A Month For Convoy Duty:

Pay The Troops The Same!


7.25.06 Norfolk Virginian-Pilot


Private military contractors [translation: mercenaries] can earn substantially more money than members of the armed services. A Government Accountability Office study last year found that contractors were earning $12,000 to $13,000 a month working on security convoys in Iraq.



Irish Jury Finds Attacking U.S. Military Aircraft Not A Crime;

Stopping Attacks On Iraq OK


July 25, 2006 By HARRY BROWNE, CounterPunch


It took nearly three-and-a-half years for the case of the Pitstop Ploughshares to reach a jury. It took the jury less than three-and-a-half hours to find the five activists not guilty of criminal damage to a US Navy plane at Shannon Airport in western Ireland in February 2003.


Having been instructed not to respond audibly to the verdict, the crowd in the courtroom sobbed quietly with joy and relief as the verdicts were read out for all five defendants earlier today.


This trial was the first time a jury was allowed by Judge Miriam Reynolds to hear it argued fully that the 'disarmament' of the navy C40 transport was done with 'lawful excuse'.


In the the two trials of Mary Kelly for earlier damage to the same plane the judge ruled out the 'lawful excuse' defence.


The defence under Ireland's criminal-damage statute allows damage to property if it's done in the 'honest belief' that so doing will protect lives and/or property, and if that belief is reasonable in the circumstances as the accused perceived them to be.


Judge Reynolds said only the reasonableness of the belief, not its honesty, was at issue in the case, and said the question was so tied up with the facts of the case that it wouldn't be appropriate for her to prohibit the jury from considering it.


The trial heard from activist and Counterpuncher Kathy Kelly, who met the five shortly before their action and told them about the horrors inflicted on Iraq by sanctions and bombing prior to February 2003.


It also heard from ex-Royal Air Force logistics expert Geoffrey Oxley that he couldn't rule out the possibility of damage to a transport plane having a knock-on effect that could result in lives saved in Iraq.


An international-law expert also testified as to the illegality of the US war.


In effect, the jury agreed that to damage an American military plane in these circumstances couldn't be considered a crime.


Whatever about the technical reasons for the verdict, its quickness and unanimity sends a message to the Irish government about its policy of facilitating the US military at Irish airports, especially Shannon. More than 300,000 troops have passed through there in the last year alone.


The five read a statement outside the courtroom that highlighted the political importance of the verdict: "The jury is the conscience of the community, chosen randomly from Irish society. The conscience of the community has spoken. The government has no popular mandate in providing the civilian Shannon Airport to service the US war machine in its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.”


"The decision of this jury should be a message to London, Washington DC and the Dail that Ireland wants no part in waging war on the people of Iraq. Refuelling of US warplanes at Shannon Airport should cease immediately."



“Model Employer” DoD Fights Giving It’s Deployed Workers Equal Pay


July 24, 2006 Army Times


The Defense Department has named the federal government one of its “model employers” of mobilized National Guard and reserve members. In a June 28 ceremony, Cabinet secretaries and heads of independent agencies signed a statement of support of employment and re-employment rights for reservists who are also federal civilian employees, and pledged to go above and beyond what the law requires to support reservists when they are mobilized.


The award comes as a shock to some because the Bush administration and Defense Department have opposed legislation that would require the federal government to pay both military and federal civilian salaries to mobilized workers, or even to simply make up any difference in pay for reservist-employees who earn less in the military than in civilian life: a fairly common benefit offered in the private sector.


Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., chief sponsors of leg

:: Article nr. 25070 sent on 26-jul-2006 14:25 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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