US troops who refused duty in Iraq cited safety
BAGHDAD: Preliminary investigations into the refusal of 18 US soldiers to go on a convoy mission in Iraq showed they had raised concerns about safety and the condition of their vehicles, the army said on Sunday.
The US army is investigating why the men refused to take their unarmoured fuel tankers on a supply run from Tallil in southeastern Iraq to Baghdad last Wednesday.
They belonged to the 343rd Quartermaster Company from South Carolina, which has been taken off the road for maintenance and safety checks on all vehicles and safety re-training, Brigadier General James Chambers said.
Relatives of the soldiers were quoted by media in the United States as saying the men had told them the convoy was a suicide mission. Chambers rejected the allegation.
“This was an isolated incident involving a small number of soldiers,” he told reporters, adding that the convoy had gone ahead later in the day with other soldiers from the company.
“Preliminary findings indicate that the soldiers concerned expressed concerns about maintenance and safety,” said Chambers, commander of the corps that includes the 343rd. The 18 soldiers are back on duty pending the outcome of investigations and no disciplinary action has yet been taken. “The command is taking action to address soldier concerns as well as to maintain discipline,” Chambers said. “I can’t think of anything we are not doing right now to better protect our convoys.”
The company’s maintenance and safety stand-down will take about 10-14 days, Chambers said, but he gave no indication how long the investigations would last. “I am more interested in quality in these investigations than I am in speed.” reuters