'TELL DONALD Rumsfeld the 2nd Brigade is stuck in Fallujah, and we're very angry,' Sergeant Siphon Pahn told a major US news programme last week, in an extraordinary scene. Anger boiled over when the troops learnt they were staying in Iraq indefinitely after being told they would be home by September. The outburst gave a glimpse of the bitterness building up among US troops serving in Iraq.
An unnamed soldier referred to the decks of cards given to US soldiers with pictures of Saddam Hussein's regime on them. He said, 'I've got my own most wanted list. The aces in it are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz. If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I'd ask him for his resignation,' said Specialist Clinton Dietz. Another soldier added that the division's morale was 'not high, or low, but nonexistent'.
'We were told to kill'
US SERGEANT Eric Wright told ABC News last week, 'We're mentally and physically exhausted to the point that some hoped they could get injured and go home. They're saying 'Hey, shoot me, I want to go home'.'
Sergeant Jeffrey Lujan said, 'We feel betrayed. We were told to come in and take Baghdad and kill. Now they want us to turn off the switch and go into peacekeeping. It's very hard.'
Private Jason Ring, also in Fallujah, told a US newspaper, 'We liberated Iraq. Now the people here don't want us here, and guess what? We don't want to be here either. 'So why are we here? Why don't they bring us home?'
Turmoil at home
US SOLDIERS are now threatened with disciplinary action for speaking out about the occupation of Iraq. The commander of US forces in Iraq, General John Abizaid, said, 'None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of state for defence or the president of the US.'
The families of soldiers are under huge pressure to support 'their boys' in action. But even here, support for the continuing war in Iraq is starting to crack. Soldiers' wives at Fort Stewart US army base are in open revolt against the cancellation of their partners' leave. They are planning a march in the base itself.
Denise Gonzalez, wife of a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, said, 'We have a voice and we have to be heard, for the sake of the soldiers who don't have one. 'They're exhausted. Some are suicidal.' Families of soldiers openly say they feel their sons and daughters have been abandoned, used and abused by the US government.