View Full Version : British troops deserting over Iraq war

06-06-2006, 06:03 AM
The British government finds itself on the defense after a recent BBC report stated that the number of UK servicemen deserting has tripled since March 2003 war on Iraq, which raises fears that there’s increasing refusal among British troops to serve on dangerous missions abroad, UK’s Telegraph wrote recently.

At least 1,000 UK soldiers have deserted the army since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq three years ago, according to a BBC report published earlier this week.

According to figures from the Ministry of Defence; the number of permanent Awols has risen from 118 in 2002, the year before Iraq war, to 377 last year. This year, 189 troops have not reported back for duty.

The disclosure comes as the Parliament debates a new law that will make refusing to participate in the occupation of a foreign country punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison.

“We are seeing an increase in the numbers who have absented themselves from service who come to us for advice. We do what we can to defend them,” said Justin Hugheston-Roberts, a solicitor who represented Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to fight in Iraq.

Troops suffer low morale, and many feel they’re not making any difference to Iraq's reconstruction while being targets for daily attacks.

"I can't speak for others, but there's a lot of dissent in the Army about the legality of the war and concerns that they're spending too much time there," said Ben Griffin, former SAS member who left the Army after witnessing illegal acts by U.S. troops.

Many reports also revealed that hundreds of U.S. military men have deserted the Army over “illegality of the war.”

Although MoD didn’t state a reasons for people deserting the army, “one reason is thought to concern troops faced with a second or third tour to Iraq and under pressure families fearing for their safety,” according to The Telegraph.

But MoD spokesman claimed that "we have found that the main reason for troops going Awol is for domestic reasons rather than our operational commitments overseas".

"A vast majority of the absentees return to their unit after a few weeks away and are usually disciplined with a fine or other minor punishment.”

Hundreds ask to leave the Army each year before their contracted time is up under a"premature voluntary withdrawal" system. But since this takes between six and 12 months, some decide to leave without permission.

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington warned the Parliament earlier this week that the number of absconders had tripled since March 2003 invasion with more soldiers "questioning the morality and legality of the occupation".

McDonnell asserted that the numbers of British troops trying to absent themselves from service in Iraq were on the rise.

"My understanding is there are a lot more seeking to avoid service, through different mechanisms," he said.

"I think what the MoD is saying flies in the face of all the other evidence and the experience of soldiers on the ground."

This "shows how much pressure the armed forces are under with dangerous missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, often undertaken with inadequate resources," said Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, who called the figures "astonishing".

In a report based on the same House of Commons source, The Times of London stated earlier that since the start of Iraq war 3,000 British soldiers go absent every year without leave permission.

2,000 have been found and 1,000 of them remain missing.

The Times, which editorially supported U.S.-led war on Iraq, reported skepticism among defense attorneys over the UK government's persistence to deny that the desertion rates reflect dissatisfaction about Britain's role in Iraq.

Numerous polls showed rising dissatisfaction among the Britons over Iraq war. Most Britons now know that the British PM Tony Blair lied about reasons to invade the country, which include fear of Saddam’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction, which were never found, and having link to terror networks, which also was never proved.

Blair has repetitively stated that UK is involved in Iraq war “to establish democratic institutions and guarantee security and prosperity,” The Guardian said. But since the security situation in Iraq is now worse than ever with the noticeable rise in daily attacks and sectarian killings, the British PM policy proved to be incoherent.

The British PM and members of his government are prisoners of denial.

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