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GI Special 4H13: " Well, What Are We Doing Here?" - August 13, 2006


..."Three months into Iraq, my friend, a man that I drank beer with, a man that I had even gone to college with for awhile, shot an innocent civilian who was raking rocks along the side of the road. I remember having to go back to Forward Operating Base Marez, and reporting to my commanding officer what I just seen. I remember writing a mission statement. I remember requesting an investigation be done and I remember it being refused. "’I can’t take this anymore!’ That’s what I thought to myself. This is not what I signed up for and it’s not what’s being shown to the American public. So, why the hell should I fight?...

[25737]



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GI Special 4H13: " Well, What Are We Doing Here?" - August 13, 2006

Thomas F. Barton

www.albasrah.net
 

GI Special:

thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

8.13.06

Print it out: color best.  Pass it on.

 

GI SPECIAL 4H13:

 

 

[Thanks to Mark Shapiro, who sent this in.]

 

 

Refusing to Fight:

"Still In Touch With His Unit, Snyder Says They Fully Support What He’s Doing And Now Confide In Him"

"From The People That I Know Morale Is Like, 'Well, What Are We Doing Here For The Fourth Time?’"

An interview with Resister Kyle Snyder

 

August 9, 2006 By Karen Button, uruknet.info?p=25612 [Excerpts]

 

"I joined the military when I was 19 years old from a government program called Job Corps, in Clearfield, Utah," Snyder begins.  "I wasn't a good kid.  I didn’t have a good background.  I was in foster homes from thirteen to seventeen, then when I was seventeen,  I went through a government program called Job Corps. So, from thirteen all the way up, I didn’t have parental figures in my life really.

 

"My parents divorced; my father was really abusive towards my mother and he was abusive toward me. I’ve still got scars on my back. I was put in Social Services when I was thirteen. I was an easy target for recruiters, plain and simple.

 

"The minute I graduated in 2003, Staff Sgt. Williamson came to me and he mentioned all the benefits military programs had to offer.  And, for the first time in my life, I saw that I could become something more.  I saw a man in a professional uniform, clean-cut, a very professional man coming up to me, wanting me, saying I could look just like him. I wanted that. I don’t know any other 19 year old that wouldn’t want that.

 

"I joined the military for materialistic benefits. A $5,000 bonus seemed really really nice being 19 years old. Maybe I could put a down payment on a car or something. I wanted to go to college. I wanted to provide for a family; I wanted to have a family. I wanted all the benefits that the military had to offer."

 

I asked Snyder if he thought about the invasion of Iraq when he joined the military.  He said yes, but "more than anything I wanted to reconstruct the civilization of Iraq.  I wanted to help liberate the people of Iraq, just like the American president was saying.

 

"So, I signed up to be a heavy construction equipment operator, part of the 94th Corps of Engineers. I figured if I was an engineer in the United States Army I could build foundations for the Iraqi people to form their new government, to form a civilization after the bombings of 2003."

 

Snyder did his basic training in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, which he described as "a simple military process that…breaks you down, breaks down all of (your) values into believing that killing another human being is ok, and that you can make money off of killing another life, taking another human being’s soul."

 

While at basic training, Snyder’s grandfather died.  He was denied leave to attend the funeral.  

 

Two weeks later he was allowed to go home, and it was then that his fiancée became pregnant.

 

After graduation, Snyder was sent to Germany where he became part of the 94th Engineers Combat Battalion Heavy. "That’s where I met my new friends, my new brothers that I would fight with.  This was my family."

 

It was there, Snyder says, he found out that his "child was dying inside of my fiancée’s…womb.  I brought it up to medical sergeants, medical commanders.  They told me that they couldn’t provide any medical attention for my child because we were not legally married.  The military took my child!  And nobody could say that I wasn’t trying to become a good father because I was in the military."

 

Bitter and angry at the military now, it was the loss of Snyder’s child that planted those first seeds.  Depressed and in shock, Snyder requested an exit from the military.  "I tried for six months while the deployment orders were still in effect for my unit."  He was refused.  

 

"I became very depressed. I just went numb inside. I was put on medication, Lorazipam and Paxyl.  I later refused to take the medication because I felt that it was numbing me. I decided that was something I needed to heal from myself.  And I believe it’s still something I need to heal from.

 

"I felt that the only reason I was getting (the anti-depressants) was because they wanted me…to be a soldier.

 

"I learned all the different weapon system that the military could offer in a combat situation. 50 cal are used with depleted uranium rounds; I found that out when coming to Canada.  I was never told that while I was in Iraq."

 

Though Snyder had just lost his child, was depressed, and was about to be deployed to the violence that is now Iraq, for the month prior his superiors assigned him to "Fallen Soldier Detail," where, Snyder says matter-of-factly, "I would salute the dead bodies that were put into caskets as they were returning to Germany before we shipped them off to the United States."

 

I ask him if that affected him, to see the dead coming back from where he was about to go. Surprisingly, he shakes his head…"nah, not really."  

 

Snyder says he didn’t expect to see combat anyway.  "Going to Iraq meant I was going to reconstruct a city, not kill people.  That’s what I believed I was going to do."

 

When Snyder arrived, however, he says he saw no reconstruction of Iraq.

 

"The only reconstruction I saw was building army bases.

 

"I was in Mosul. I was in Baghdad. I was in Stryker. I was in Scania.  I was in Tikrit… Iraq is the size of Texas, it’s a small country.  People need to realise that.  

 

There were reconstructions of forward operating bases and military bases, but no city work being done. I mean, none of that. So, why are the engineers there?" he asks rhetorically, shaking his head.

 

Instead of doing the job he signed up for, says Snyder, "I was sent into what we called The Force Protection Program; it was a separate entity from my unit. We escorted everything up to a general.

 

"I don’t know what is worse, telling your friends you can’t fight with them because you’re escorting a general who doesn’t want to see combat, or actually being a part of the combat."

 

Snyder’s first mission further demoralised him. "Capt. John G. Chung left me during my first mission. He left me and 8 personnel and 4 vehicles behind in Baghdad. He went to Forward Operating Base Scania, which was an hour north of Baghdad. My platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt Perkins went up to him and asked him why he had left.

 

"He didn’t answer us for about two months, until we confronted him and set a meeting up asking him why he had left us during the mission. 'That’s not any of my concern, because I’m just a Private.  He has different orders.  I don't care what his orders are.’ How would he explain to my mother if I had died, that he was missing during that mission?"

 

Though in Iraq only four and half months, Snyder says he conducted over 38 documented missions.  "Most men don’t even do two in a year.  The chances of me surviving a firefight were 30 percent…because I was a gunner. I was lucky because I wasn’t in too much combat.  But I did see my friends come back injured and I did see men from other units killed."

 

"Three months into Iraq, my friend, a man that I drank beer with, a man that I had even gone to college with for awhile, shot an innocent civilian who was raking rocks along the side of the road.  I remember having to go back to Forward Operating Base Marez, and reporting to my commanding officer what I just seen.  I remember writing a mission statement.  I remember requesting an investigation be done and I remember it being refused.

 

"’I can’t take this anymore!’  That’s what I thought to myself.  This is not what I signed up for and it’s not what’s being shown to the American public.  So, why the hell should I fight?

 

Because what that commanding officer was telling me by refusing that investigation, was that I could pick up my M-16 or my M-4 or my M-2 and go and kill 50 Iraqi civilians because I was angry and get away with it because it’s war!"

 

Snyder angrily declares, "The American president was saying that we were liberating and we were reconstructing.  Well, I expect to be doing that! I mean, who’s in the wrong here?  I was given false orders.  I was given false information.  I did expect to go and help reconstruct a society.

 

"You know, if they want to help people in Iraq….imagine a15 year-old kid, for the last 5 years all he’s seen is military personnel with weapons going through his city.  How is that child supposed to believe that that man, in that uniform is helping him?  Now, if that child saw a convoy of logs being brought to his city, or a convoy of water being brought to his city, still guarded, it would be a completely different situation.

 

That’s where the American military messed up.  Because they forgot about the perception of civilisation.  They forgot about the perception of the Iraqi people."

 

Snyder began documenting his missions. "I wanted to find out…you know it might have been because I was already angry with the United States Army…but it doesn’t matter. When they took my soul that way… you want them to be accountable for what they have done. Right?  So, for me, documenting and taking pictures and doing all of that, that was my way of saying 'look, you know what? You guys are the ones that are fucking up.’

 

He is now using the documentation as evidence in his refugee claim.  His defense?  "That this war is illegal and I should be able to make moral decisions as a soldier; I’m using international law and this is an international war, it’s not a civil war so they need to take into consideration international law."

 

"I left the military because the situation is now that it is not conducting itself as a professional unit.  Altogether the US military, in my eyes, is scrambled to the point that nobody knows what they’re doing, except the generals.

 

I think the generals are making bad decisions and giving bad orders to people like me.

 

So, I refuse to work in an organisation that is not professional.  I refuse to work in an organisation that commits war crimes.  It would be like if I worked for 7-11 and I found out my boss was laundering money.  I wouldn’t want to work for them, would I?  Nobody would question me then, if I quit that job.  I mean, that’s the reality of it.

 

"I thought about turning myself back in about four months ago.  I thought hard about this, to just get it over with.  But, you know what?  More and more, I think they have to catch me first.  I’m not hiding.  I’m right here.  But how bad would that look if Americans came over to Canada to arrest me?"

 

Still in touch with his unit, Snyder says they fully support what he’s doing and now confide in him.

 

"From the people that I know morale is like, 'well, what are we doing here for the fourth time?’

 

"They’re upset because they’ve been there for the third or fourth time and they’re married…a lot of them are.  

 

"So, if you’ve see your wife two months out of three years, how are you supposed to maintain a stable relationship?  And that’s part of the reason that a lot of them joined the military in the first place!  A lot of family men join, so nobody wants to fight a war they don’t have to."

 

I ask Snyder about soldiers committing atrocities, like those in Haditha where 24 civilians were intentionally killed, or the rape of a teenager and subsequent murder of her and her family in Mahmoudiya.

 

Snyder says he and most other soldiers are horrified by these events.

 

But, he says, it’s also important to remember the situation in which they’ve been placed. "You've got people who just don’t care!  It’s probably their third or fourth deployment and they blame the Iraqis because who are they going to blame?"

 

There have been accusations that some soldiers have been using drugs and I ask what Snyder thinks.

 

Snyder says he personally didn’t see drug use, but, says, "there is prostitution.

 

"The US military brings Iraqi women on the bases, five to six at a time.  They were probably in their mid-twenties…it was right across the street at Camp Diamond, in a massage parlor.  I was appalled the U.S. would be funding this!  It’s sickening. U.S. taxpayer’s money is going toward prostitution rings on U.S. bases.  I’m willing to sit in front of a court and say these same things."

 

When I ask how he knows the U.S. is funding this, he fires back, "You tell me where the money is coming from?  I hold the Bush Administration responsible."  Someone, he says, has approved it, otherwise they would not be on the bases.  "They owe an explanation why that kind of shit is going on."

 

"I love my country.  And that’s why I’m in Canada right now.  That’s it.  Plain and simple. …and any soldier that refuses to fight in this war has my respect."

 

Snyder’s schedule is full with speaking engagements, interviews, letter-writing, and organising. "Right now I’m working on getting a house in Surrey than any resister can come to."

 

Though emotionally exhausted, Snyder says he keeps going on the support he’s received. "It’s what fuels me, what gives me strength, just knowing that people all over the world support me."

 

I ask Snyder what he wants for the future. "I want to go back to college. I want the government to leave me alone and give me time to think and to process everything.  I want 21 back.  I want this war to stop.  That’s what I want.

 

"I want my friends home, and I want to know that Iraq is being reconstructed.  And that can still happen.  Economically, we owe the Iraqi people billions of dollars if you add up every single home and every single life that’s been taken.  America owes at least that."

 

For more information about the War Resisters Support Campaign go to www.resisters.ca.

 

 

 

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

 

 

New York City Soldier Killed Near Ramadi:

"He Didn’t Want To Go Back," The Mother Said

Spc. Hai Ming Hsia’s funeral service at Long Island National cemetery, Aug. 11, 2006 in Farmingdale, N.Y.  Spc. Hsia died Aug. 1, 2006 during combat operations in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He is survived by his wife Yanisse Oliveras, son Brandon Alexander Hsia, 3, and parents Ting Fang, and Nelida Hsia.  He was a member of 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

 

August 3, 2006 Kerry Burke and Leo Standora, Daily News

 

A New York soldier who joined the Army at age 33 to help support his newborn son was killed in Iraq Tuesday when a roadside bomb cut him in half, his family said yesterday.

Spec. Hai Ming Hsia, 37, was riding in a combat convoy near Ar Ramadi when the explosion tore his vehicle apart, they said.

 

"President Bush took away my son, my only child," Hsia's grieving mother, Nelida, 66, said last night.  "Now I have none."

 

Sitting in the living room of her Chinatown apartment, the mother explained that her son joined the Army in 2002 because his son, Brendon, 3, was on the way and his job as a security guard couldn't support a family.

 

She said he spent three years in Iraq only to have his hitch extended. He came home on leave earlier in the summer but returned to Iraq a month ago.

 

"He didn't want to go back," the mother said.  "He already missed out on so much with his son and his life, especially with his son.  They were inseparable.  He took him everywhere when he was home.  He was his life."

 

Hsia's father, Ting Fang, 78, a retired chef, said quietly and sadly, "He was my only baby, so I have a pain in my heart."

 

 

U.S. Command Frightened Of Reporting Extent Of Resistance Attacks On Green Zone

 

August 12, 2006 By EDWARD WONG, The New York Times Company [Excerpts]

 

Western security advisers confirmed Friday that there had been a recent spate of mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone, known to some as the International Zone.  It is unclear whether anyone was wounded or killed by the strikes.

 

A spokesman for the American military, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, declined to give details.  "We aren’t interested in discussing attacks on the International Zone, their effectiveness or who may be responsible," he said in an e-mail message.

 

 

FUTILE EXERCISE:

BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!

U.S. soldiers at the site of a car bomb attack outside a court house in Kirkuk, July 23, 2006.  (Slahaldeen Rasheed/Reuters)

 

 

 

TROOP NEWS

 

 

August 16

Bring the Troops Home NOW!

Vigil/Car Caravan/Press Conference

 

[Thanks to Elaine B, who sent this in.]

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2006, will mark the 1st anniversary of the weekly Bring the Troops Home NOW vigil in Teaneck, NJ. 

 

It will mark the "debut" of the newest Support our Troops. Bring them home. NOW! billboard in Hackensack.

 

Unfortunately it will also mark the death of more than 2600 US troops.

 

Here are special events planned for that day:

 

Vigil:

Support the troops.  Bring them home NOW!  Take care of them when they get here. Never, never send our loved ones to wars based on lies.

 

4:30 – 5:45 pm

National Guard Armory

Teaneck Road and Liberty Road, Teaneck, NJ (Please don't park at Foster Village.)

 

Car Caravan: 5:45 pm –

A caravan of cars/trucks will go from the vigil in Teaneck to the Hackensack Memorial Park. The new billboard is right across from the park, above 687 Main Street . (Go down Teaneck Road.  Turn right onto Cedar Lane. Cedar Lane will become Anderson in Hackensack. At Sears, turn right onto Main Street.  Go .6 miles to the intersection of Main/Johnson/Temple. You can park at the Memorial Park, on Fairmont Avenue, or at Target.)

 

Press Conference:

6:15 pm - Hackensack Memorial Park, at the intersection of Main Street, Johnson, and Temple Avenues.  

 

The Coalition to Bring the Troops Home NJ will unveil the latest of 16 billboards in four counties in Northern New Jersey.

 

The billboard will say, "SUPPORT THE TROOPS, BRING THEM HOME.  NOW!"

 

The new billboard will be at this location for 4 weeks.

 

Speakers:

John Fenton (whose son, Matthew, was killed in Iraq)

Amanda Schroeder (whose brother, Augie, was killed in Iraq)

Al Zappala, Gold Star Families Speak Out (His son, Sherwood, was killed looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.)

Military Families Speak Out -Bergen County - members whose sons are in Iraq and Afghanistan

State Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, District 37

State Assemblywoman Valorie Huddle, District 37

Teaneck Peace and Justice Coalition representative

Ken Dalton, Veterans For Peace, Chapter 21, NJ

Tom Urgo, Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Waheed Khalid, American Muslim Union

 

Event sponsors: Military Families Speak Out, MFSO - Bergen County chapter (bergencountyMFSO@hotmail.com. www.mfso.org.) and the Teaneck Peace and Justice Coalition, TPJC (www.Teaneckpeace.org). The press conference is co-sponsored by MFSO, TPJC, The Coalition to Bring Troops Home NOW (www.BringTroopsHomeNJ.org.), and the Bergen Peace and Justice Coalition (www.bergenjustice.net.)

 

Call 201 836-5834 for information and rides.

 

 

 

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

 

 

"The Antiwar Movement During The Vietnam Period, Within The Military Itself And On The Front Lines"

 

John Sunier, 8.04 Audiophile Audition

 

Another powerful documentary, and how fortunate it is that at this difficult time in our nation's history documentary films are suddenly being made available and shown successfully in general theatrical distribution!

 

The subject is a historical one but has strong repercussions for the present day.  It concerns the antiwar movement during the Vietnam Period, but within the military itself and on the front lines, rather than the civilian demonstrations carried out in the U.S. 

 

The media briefly covered a small portion of what was going on, such as the 1972 Winter Soldier event, but in general most viewers of this film will be amazed at how strong the movement was within the armed forces, and how it contributed to the final winding-down of the conflict.

 

The 1968 Tet Offensive is shown as the watershed event that gave the movement impetus.  It demonstrated that the resistance the U.S. had been meeting on the battlefield had the general support of the Vietnamese people. 

 

Thousands of soldiers began going AWOL and many of them congregated in San Francisco.  Many who were being sent to Vietnam for the first time simply refused to go, and became acquainted painfully with the SF Presidio's stockade.  Some 300 antiwar magazines and newsletters were published on bases in the U.S. and around the world.

 

A courageous DJ operated a pirate radio station in Saigon providing dissenters with an alternative information source.

 

The Free Theater Alternative (FTA) put on antiwar shows for servicemen; Jane Fonda was among those who participated, and she speaks about the experience.  Other subjects touched on are discrimination and the black power struggle, the public outcry attempting to prevent a Navy carrier from leaving San Diego for Vietnam, the antiwar coffee shops that sprang up everywhere and a murder trial where a black soldier was found not guilty of "fragging" an officer - though the fragging incidents showed how low troop morale had sunk.

 

The deliberate bombing of populated areas of Vietnam challenged the dignity of Airforce pilots.  W


:: Article nr. 25737 sent on 14-aug-2006 06:08 ECT

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