Situation Normal, All F

`Scrounging’ for Iraq war puts GIs in jail
Sun Dec 12, 9:40 AM ET
Aamer Madhani
Chicago Tribune

But when Birt’s unit was ordered to head into Iraq in the heat of battle in April 2003 from its base in Kuwait, Birt said the company didn’t have enough vehicles to haul the equipment it would need to do the job.

So, Birt explained, he and other reservists grabbed two tractors and two trailers left in Kuwait by other U.S. units that had already moved into Iraq.

Several weeks later, Birt and other reservists scrounged a third vehicle, an abandoned 5-ton cargo truck, and stripped it for parts they needed for repair of their trucks.

“We could have gone with what we had, but we would not have been able to complete our mission,” said Birt, who was released from the brig on Oct. 17 and is petitioning for clemency in hope that he can return to the reserves.

“I admit that what we did was technically against the rules, but it wasn’t for our own personal gain. It was so we could do our jobs.”

The thefts mirror countless stories of shifty appropriation that has been memorialized in books and films as a wartime skill. Birt and other reservists in the unit said that what the prosecutors called theft was simply resourcefulness, a quality they say is abundant among soldiers in Iraq.

While in confinement, Birt had a chat with a military police officer who was puzzled by why Birt was in the brig. The MP, a guard, told Birt that his unit had “acquired” a Humvee in a similar fashion.

Our soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq. And the military lawyers have made it clear which side they are on.

Terrorists kill people. But bureaucrats kill people too.

Hat tip Democratic Underground.

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