Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Women COs to be Honored

On Friday, June 9, 2006, the War Resisters League will present its annual Peace Award to four women who are conscientious objectors to the U.S. Military. Diedra Cobb, Anita Cole, Kelly Dougherty and Katherine Jashinski, will represent the growing class of these new COs.

All are welcome to attend the dinner and ceremony at 6:30. You must register by June 5. For registration information, go to

The Haditha Massacre

On November 19, 2005, when the Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, killed unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq, we lost the lives of 24 precious images of God. What is more, we suffered the wounds of the numerous souls of the ones who deliberately killed them. We mourn both of these losses.

The men who actually pulled the triggers that ended the lives of these innocent civilians must ask for forgiveness from God for their heinous crimes. We pray that they do.

At the same time, we must not exonerate others of this massacre - those who have trained these men to kill on command, those who have sent these men for their third tour in Iraq to kill on command, and those who have celebrated U.S. victories won by the soldiers who have killed on command.

Lt Col. Dave Grossman, in his book On Killing, quoted a Vietnam veteran on the My Lai massacre, which he said was carried out by "ordinary, basically decent American soldiers": "You put those same kids in he jungle for a while, get them real scared, deprive them of sleep, and let a few incidents change some of their fears to hate....Kill, rape, and steal is the name of the game."

We all share some of the responsibilty for this murder, and must ask forgiveness for not stopping it. As Paul wrote, "When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Cor 12:26). We are suffering.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

US to soften tactics

Interesting article from the Guardian:

US softens tactics in Iraq after British claims of trigger-happy troops

Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Wednesday May 3, 2006
The Guardian

US forces are switching tactics in Iraq to take a less confrontational approach to civilians in response to criticism from British military commanders that they have been too tough.

American commanders are ordering marines and soldiers manning checkpoints or travelling in convoys to be less trigger-happy. Instead of firing into the air or at civilians to warn them off as they approach checkpoints or convoys in cars, troops nervous about suicide bombers are being encouraged to use strobe lights and other means to signal that they should slow down or back off. Troops are also being told to be less rough during searches.

Lieutenant-General Peter Chiarelli, commander of day-to-day operations in Iraq, has sent his commanders articles from the British press that criticised US forces for being unnecessarily tough.

Read the whole article here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Army Suicides Increase

An AP article that ran in USA Today a week ago on Army suicides.

Quite a tradeoff--fewer desertions, more suicides. Though obviously the ratio is not one to one.

Army suicides hit highest level since 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of U.S. Army soldiers who took their own lives increased last year to the highest total since 1993, despite a growing effort by the Army to detect and prevent suicides.

In 2005, a total of 83 soldiers committed suicide, compared with 67 in 2004, and 60 in 2003--the year U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq. Four other deaths in 2005 are being investigated as possible suicides but have not yet been confirmed. The totals include active duty Army soldiers and deployed National Guard and Reserve troops.

"Although we are not alarmed by the slight increase, we do take suicide prevention very seriously," said Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin.

"We have increased the number of combat stress teams, increased suicide prevention and training, and we are working very aggressively to change the culture so that soldiers feel comfortable coming forward with their personal problems in a culture where historically admitting mental health issues was frowned upon," Curtin said.

Of the confirmed suicides last year, 25 were soldiers deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- which amounts to 40% of the 64 suicides by Army soldiers in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003.

Read the whole article here.