Thursday, September 16, 2004

Report: Soldiers say they are being threatened with Iraq duty
posted by: Dan Viens (Web Producer)
Created: 9/16/04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Soldiers from a combat unit at Fort Carson say they have been told to re-enlist for three more years or be transferred to other units expected to deploy to Iraq, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday.

Hundreds of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team were presented with that message and a re-enlistment form in a series of assemblies last week, two soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity told the newspaper.

"They said if you refuse to re-enlist with the 3rd Brigade, we'll send you down to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is going to Iraq for a year, and you can stay with them, or we'll send you to Korea, or to Fort Riley (in Kansas) where they're going to Iraq," said one of the soldiers, a sergeant.

The second soldier, an enlisted man, echoed that view: "They told us if we don't re-enlist, then we'd have to be reassigned. And where we're most needed is in units that are going back to Iraq in the next couple of months. So if you think you're getting out, you're not."

The sergeant told the News the threat has outraged soldiers who are close to fulfilling their service obligation.

"We have a whole platoon who refuses to sign," he said.

An unidentified Fort Carson spokesman said Wednesday that 3rd Brigade recruitment officers denied threatening the soldiers with more duty in Iraq.
"I can only tell you what the retention officers told us: 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.

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.

An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Gerard Healy, said sending soldiers to Iraq with less than one year of their enlistment remaining "would not be taken lightly."

"There's probably a lot of places on post where they could put those folks (who don't re-enlist) until their time expires," he said. "But I don't want to rule out the possibility that they could go to a unit that might deploy."

Extending a soldier's active duty is within Army authority, since the enlistment contract carries an eight-year obligation, even if a soldier signs up for shorter terms. Members of Iraq-bound units can be retained for an entire year in Iraq, even if their active-duty enlistment expires.

"I don't want to go back to Iraq," the sergeant told the News. "I went through a lot of things for the Army that weren't necessary and were risky. Iraq has changed a lot of people."

The enlisted soldier said the recruiters' message left him "filled with dread."
"For me, it wasn't about going back to Iraq. It's just the fact that I'm ready to get out of the Army," he said.

(Copyright by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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