Active-duty group to press Congress to bring troops home
By Otto Kreisher COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON – In a
movement not seen since the depths of the Vietnam War,
active-duty service members are organizing an effort to
send a flood of appeals to Congress to get U.S. troops out
The movement, initiated by a Norfolk-based sailor and a
Quantico-based Marine, has 219 participants so far. But
that is twice what it had two days ago, the leaders said
in a telephone conference call yesterday.
The effort is being
conducted under the federal Military Whistle Blower
Protection Act, which allows service personnel to
communicate their concerns directly to their congressional
Although they have an obligation to follow orders,
“many of us have reservations about the orders,” said
Seaman Jonathan Hutto, who recently returned from a
deployment to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier
Theodore Roosevelt. “At this point, some of us feel
compelled to let our reservations be known.
“We do serve our country faithfully, we are patriotic;
if told to go to Iraq right now, we would go,” Hutto said.
“At the same time, we feel this occupation should come to
an end right now. We feel the need to tell our political
Sgt. Liam Madden said he opposes the war in Iraq
because no weapons of mass destruction or direct links to
the terrorist group al-Qaeda were found when those were
the reasons the Bush administration cited for the invasion
“If democracy is our goal, I believe we're going about
it all wrong. The occupation is perpetuating more
violence. It's costing us way too many humans – Iraqi
civilians and American service members – their lives, for
no benefit,” said Madden, who served seven months in
volatile Anbar province.
Army Maj. Steward Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said
service members “are free to communicate with Congress in
a lawful manner that doesn't violate the Uniform Code of
The code bans derogatory comments about the military
leadership, including the president, and political action
while in uniform, during duty hours or that claims to
represent the views of the military.
A female soldier recently returned from a year in Iraq
joined the call, but declined to give her name because she
said she feared informal reprisals. “Soldiers see all this
ethnic fighting around them, and, to some extent, are
caught in the crossfire, but there's nothing they can do
to stop it,” the soldier said. “It's very frustrating to
go out on convoys and literally risk their lives on a
daily basis and not really seeing any tangible results.”
The protesting service personnel, including members of
the National Guard and reserves, are supported by several
organizations opposing the war.
They have created a Web site that allows service
members to join the protest and to send a message to their
members of Congress.
The message says:
“As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in
uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in
Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of American
military forces and bases in Iraq. Staying in Iraq will
not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S.
troops to come home.”