Army Sergeant posted comments to me from IVAW's Jen Hogg. As this is going to get a bit detailed, it's worthy of a post. SgtHogg's words in blue. LTC Goldenberg's in red.
"Hi Dennis, Jen Hogg here.
My company was support for Combat Engineers in the National Guard, where many soldiers are in their 40's. A few with prior infantry experience were deployed.
Also the male mechanics were told to do a two week course in order to get MOS'Q as combat engineers so they could move to the line units and get rank. When the war started that two week course allowed them to be deployed as Infantry. Myself and the other female mechanic were not deployed with them as we did not have that course. Males without that course were also not deployed if I remember correctly. Our unit was used as filler for multiple other units that deployed so we were not sent as one whole unit (so much for gays ruining unit cohesion). The mechanics were deployed with the 69th as Infantry. I would not have volunteered to go because I was against the war nor would I have been able to. I often joke that it was one of the few times sexism worked in my favor although the guys did not think it was funny that they signed up to be mechanics and were sent as infantry. Also they did a 6 month train up at Drum before deploying."
Thanks for that, and back to you in a moment. One of the problems I had with your post at HuffPo was that it certainly gave the impression that a support unit was deployed as combat infantry. You still did not make it perfectly clear here, although slighty better than at HuffPo, that the soldiers deployed were all volunteers, and that those (males only) who were deployed as combat infantry had to have had that skill set. I'm a little perplexed at your claim that "the guys did not think it was funny that they signed up to be mechanics and were sent as infantry" when they volunteered to go as opposed to being sent.
From the e-mail I received from LTC. Goldenberg, PAO for the 42nd I.D.:
"The former 152nd Combat Engineer Battalion, once based in Buffalo New York, and now deactivated as a component of the New York Army National Guard, did not mobilize for service overseas. The battalion did, however, provide augmentees to other deploying units bound for Iraq.
During 2004 and 2005, Citizen Soldiers from the 152nd Engineers volunteered to serve with a deploying infantry battalion task force and an engineer brigade headquarters detachment. Both units were from the New York Army National Guard deploying to Iraq. Cross-leveling between units has become a routine and predictable method to fully man units preparing to deploy overseas.
Soldiers who deployed with the infantry battalion task force did perform duties overseas alongside infantry Soldiers, therefore Army and DoD regulations prohibit the assignment of female Soldiers to this frontline combat formation. The infantry battalion served north of Baghdad in Taji and in Baghdad proper. The engineer brigade headquarters deployed to Tikrit, Iraq and served as the senior engineer element for the Multinational Division for North Central Iraq. Soldiers who volunteered to serve with the engineer brigade headquarters came from a variety of military skills and gender was no prohibition on service. Any engineer from the 152nd with the needed skill set could volunteer to serve with that organization."
Back to you:
"I was discharged before they came home and later I visited my unit. This is when I was told the story. I can't account for its truth but I can account for it being presented as normal by the story teller. Not verified normal policy, but normal morality. That is the point that seems to be missed."
It is still missed. You wrote of what was a personal impression at HuffPo: "He said this as if it were normal and ok.” Even if that was told to you exactly as you say, by what standard do you take that as normal for a broad spectrum of others as opposed to the one person speaking? That is, at the best, reading into something that which one wants to be there.
Back to you:
"No I did not turn him in. Would you if you couldn't prove it was true?"
Pardon me, but it is never to job or duty of a person who comes into possession of information about a potentially serious crime to "prove" anything. That task falls to the proper official investigators charged under our laws, military and civilian, with doing so. The person who comes to the knowledge of information that a serious crime may have been committed is both morally and legally obligated to report it. You argued against a Marine who was taking exactly that moral and legal position. Back to you:
"Its war, what do you expect people to do? Not kill people thy are told are their enemies? Once again the point is what is morally seen as normal."
And you are again drawing a personal conclusion with zero factual back-up. It is not as though there have not been thousands of detainees held and released in Iraq over the years, rather than an implied "normalized" that they were simply executed!
"I did not see any rapes in my unit and I do believe my commander would try address them if they did happen there was blatant sexism in the attitudes and interactions in my unit. However if they had happened I can't speak to how they would have been handled. Helen took "no rapes" to mean treated well. Many females just "suck it up" when it comes to the day to day reality. I just reconnected with a female I went through basic with and she was sexually assaulted by a Drill after she recycled for a hip fracture. I helped another female report being grabbed between her legs from behind by a male during basic training. While I did try to address what I saw as the "big wrongs" of sexism (harassment and assaults) I certainly just let comments and harassing looks go as something women in the military just have to 'deal with'.
It would seem from your interpretation one should only speak up if something happens directly to them and ignore things otherwise."
Hold it right there! I am the one pointing out the legal and moral obligation to precisely report indications of crime to the proper authorities. You were the one telling a Marine with the same stand that he might well be concerned about armed retribution! If you were made aware of the unjustified killing of detainees in Iraq you had an obligation to report it, and not on a HuffPo discussion site while arguing against a soldier stating that he and the Marines he knew would do so in such an event.
"I could see the sexism in the military and its affects on other women in other units. You don't have to google very far to see the multiple reports of it. I don't intend to stay quiet because you think there are contradictions. I think commanders that stand for whats right have units that perform in that manner. Whether its ROE or sexual assault."
Full circle, what would you consider "normal", the commanders and units that do, or those that don't?
"Also the HuffPo comment was not trying to prove anything happened but was in response to another comment where someone said they don't believe "wrong" things happen in Iraq because HE didn't see anything."
That's is not what was said, period. Here is jrockbg's entire statement (in green) that you responded to:
“Wow. I take serious exception to your statements claiming that servicemen are routinely committing war crimes. I served in Ramadi, under the 2nd Marine Division in '05. I never once saw an ‘atrocity’ or criminal act of any kind. Nor would I have turned a blind eye. And we saw some of the worst this war had to offer. Why didn't these soldiers report these alleged atrocities to their commanders? Why is it that we've only heard of a few isolated incidents? I know my commanders were ultra-sensitive about even the appearance of a cover-up.
I don't object to your opposition of the war, just your false characterization.”
Back to you:
"My point was to ask is it possible that things out of his sight happened? Especially since there are multiple reports that things DID happen."
And that brings us back to LTC Goldenberg, who was asked about any report or investigation regarding this killing of Iraqi detainees by members of that unit:
“As for your second inquiry, there are no reports, ongoing investigations nor criminal charges pending against any member of either organization for actions that are described in the writer's blog.”
So kindly point us to these "multiple reports that things DID happen"?
"Another soldier was just convicted for shooting an Iraqi. Are the pro-war people comfortable with these convictions? We are trained to fight and kill and then people are convicted for fighting and killing. This takes us into jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Since I believe the war is wrong so much about it is unjust, things that could be just in a just war."
In all things in life, perspective is a requirment for rational thinking. 1.9 millions Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course there have been crimes, even heinous ones, as there would be among any population that size, and particularly one skewed heavily in favor of young males. The point is always about people trying to present as "normalized" and "systemic" that which they make not the slightest attempt to show is the case, and further, often do so, as you do, with unverified and uninvestigated charges. The military has always had prisons, laws, trials and punishments. No one argues that crimes are not committed. One side argues that examples, even unverified ones, can be used to charge widespread actions by members of an identified group. The Klan would always point to some genuine crimes by African Americans to make the case that African Americans as a subset of the population commit widespread crimes on a routine basis. The anti-war left has been using the same tactic for decades.
"Also, I think the only honor in the military lies in the goodwill and honor of its members, not in the organization and its uses. That is my opinion."
And you are welcome to it. I grew up in NYC, surrounded by what was likely to world's most polyglot population, and I was entranced from an early age by different cultures and peoples. Suffice it to say that I have known a great many from foreign lands who have felt very differently than you, with cause, about America's armed forces.
If you believed, as you posted at HuffPo, that this story of the killing of Iraqi detainees had even the chance of being true, much less something "normalized", you had the moral obligation to report it. The immoral thing to do would be to not report it, and then seek to use the story for a political purpose.
UPDATE: LTC Goldenberg had a bit more in that e-mail, and I believe I am morally obligated, as a matter of honoring those who deserve it, to show that also:
"Both units served with distinction. The infantry battalion task force, known as Task Force Wolfhound, served on infamous Route Irish, the Baghdad Airport road in the summer of 2005. The unit reduced violence on that route dramatically, turning around one of the most dangerous roads in all of Iraq. Their story is told in "The Fighting 69th," by Sean Michael Flynn, a rifle company commander who served with the task force. The engineers in Tikrit served as part of Task Force Liberty and oversaw more than 1.8 Billion dollars in local and regional reconstruction projects, construction of Iraqi security facilities for army and police forces and assisted the economic development of the four provinces of North Central Iraq as they conducted their historic constitutional referendum vote in October 2005.
...Our Citizen Soldiers reflect the best of American values. We set aside our commitments to our families, our jobs and our communities at home when our nation calls for our service. We mobilize and serve our nation and our Army at war when called. It is frequently noted that when you call out the Guard, you call out America. Thousands of National Guard men and women from across this country have served honorably and nobly in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Guanatanamo Bay and other places throughout the world we would much more rather not see. "
That doesn’t sound like IVAW member Clifton Hick’s description of “these National Guard types who are safe and don't even know what an Iraqi looks like."