Socialist Worker

Discontent and desertion in the British army

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2003

At least 1,000 British soldiers have deserted from the army since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, the BBC reported this week.

It said that 377 people deserted in 2005 and are still missing. Some 189 soldiers have gone absent without leave already this year.

Nine British soldiers died in Iraq during May, the highest number since January 2005, further fuelling the discontent in the army.

George Solomou from Military Families Against the War told Socialist Worker that the organisation has received many calls from military personnel “looking for a way out” of Iraq.

“They don’t believe in the war on moral or religious grounds,” he said. “A lot of British soldiers are unhappy that they will have to provide support and administration for the US in an attack on Iran.

“That’s why the government is pushing through its Armed Forces Bill, which will bring in life imprisonment for soldiers who refuse to take part in occupations. It’s an attempt to end conscientious objection.

“The Ministry of Defence is trying to hush up the opposition in the army.

“Soldiers were told that they would be seen as liberators in Iraq. But they have now realised that they are prolonging the agony for Iraqis—and that’s why they are deserting.”


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Sat 3 Jun 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2003
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