Jay Shaft / Coalition For Free Thought In Media – 2004-09-22 23:09:52
Released and Published on 9/19/04 at 04:08am EST
Statement from Jay Shaft
A soldier with a heavy heart and a real tragic choice confronting him contacted me and told me a story of his horror in Iraq and how he would not go back again. He said he would be not really be AWOL right away by the legal terms, but would instead be classified as non-reporting for duty or refusing to comply with an officer’s orders on the official duty reporting rosters and duty logs. If he does not comply within a certain time frame he is then AWOL.
This is in his true words and it gives his reasons for not wanting to go back for a second time to serve in a combat zone of Iraq. He is a reservist who has been extended at least three times under stop loss measures to maintain troop deployment levels.
He was not ever given a choice or a contract renewal option, and has no legal recourse or way out. He was one week from getting out of the Standing Ready Reserves when he was reactivated and sent to Iraq in 2003.
This interview was actually supposed to be released on 9/14/04, which was when this soldier told me he was obligated to report back for a second mobilization to Iraq. This is his true words and his reasons for not wanting to go back for a second time to serve in a combat zone of Iraq.
The soldier has asked to be called Disappearing Soldier for reasons he will very clearly explain in this candid and very moving interview.
The open unstructured discussion sessions and the structured interviews were conducted during the last week of August with the final part of the interview being completed on September 5th, 2004.
I was hospitalized with a life threatening illness on 9/6 and was just released to home health care on 9/17. I therefore was unable to get publish it any sooner.
Note of explanation of this interview and those to follow: This is going on record right now before anything can ever be supposed or asked about my character or the character and veracity of these interviews and the soldiers involved. I want to be completely on the record from the beginning and get the facts established.
I do not know any identities of the soldiers I interview. I am unable to reveal or endanger any soldier.
As part of the some rules and agreements I have made to get these interviews, I must abide by these certain obligations to actually be able to protect the soldier’s identity. Each interview, or set of interviews with an individual soldier is done on a one time use, pre-paid card style cell phone which has a limited amount of minutes and then it is of no use. That phone is then destroyed so as to prevent any phone records from being subpoenaed or traced back to anyone or any organization that might have helped arrange these interviews.
I am not aware of this soldier‚s identity or that of any recently interviewed soldier’s identity. The knowledge of the line unit or actual company or platoon they were attached to is also unknown to me. I do not know the unit of any soldier but do have a general idea of the parent Brigade or Division.
That is to know if certain battle field/counter insurgency activity details are really a correct picture of a whole unit or one man‚s view. It also ties in along with specific losses and casualty claims, verifying if they are correct along with the dates of actions being in line with the story as it was told to me. This is in cases of extensive detailing of heavy loss of life/limb due to bad Intel or equipment for instance.
These Reserve and Guard troops are going to Iraq without proper combat training. Many troops do not have one single day of actual situational security force training, which is killing soldiers at a horrendously stunning rate. I am hearing horror stories and nightmares beyond even my belief or experiences to this point.
A soldier calls me on a prearranged number, and we go about doing an interview at their discretion and only talking about what they choose to discuss. There is a set of questions I try to ask after a loose conversation that can last for an hour or more. I do a more structured style interview if they can make it that far emotionally.
I don’t rearrange things to fit a way I want it to sound. I never change a soldier’s wording or the way he phrases his responses. I put the questions and responses in exactly the order they occurred. Now no one can cast any doubt or accuse me of holding out or skewing my facts or fabricating my own story. I am being right up front and open.
Interview with the ‘Disappearing Soldier’
JS: First off let me get you to tell me a little of your background and what your recent history with the military has been.
DS: Well I have to just be careful of what I say about home, and how old I am, and that kind of thing. You will go back and really look it over? Clean it up if I slip or it looks like it was a mistake to say?
JS: Yes. That‚s the deal. I don‚t know who you are right now, so be careful if you don‚t want to tell me or give too much away. I made you go through the routine you did so we would be able to keep you safe, and I am going to have to admit I want to be safe to. I can‚t be in real trouble for not knowing a damn thing. I have to be able to talk to someone else.
DS: Right. I know, but I‚m still nervous, you sure they can‚t tap your phone or trace it?
JS: NO! I just got it this morning; I didn‚t even know the number until about 30 minutes before the call you got. You are as safe as I can make it. I don‚t know how else to do it.
DS: Sure. Next item then. I need to keep moving this forward. I hate just throwing around an idea and it‚s already been done.
JS: Your recent history with the Army?
DS: I was just called back for my second tour in a combat zone of Iraq. Well, I‚m pretty sure it will be in a combat zone or area where there has been heavy fighting. The whole country is gone to a daily incursion or bombing, some kind of attack, a complete loss of what little control we had. I can‚t see it getting better.
JS: You already did a year in Iraq? Were you Reserves or National Guard?
DS: Technically in the Reserves, but by a very fine line they drew on my papers. I was sort of Standing Ready Reserves, um, but I can‚t go too much into that. Uh, I will answer the next one now.
Yes, I was just in Iraq for a year. Over a year, and there was an extension of my duty twice in that time. No wife or kids, my parents are… uh, um, um, gee, well no that’s off limits. NO! They are not in this interview; it might get them somehow involved. I explain them later maybe.
JS: Okay, sure it‚s your interview, keep going.
DS: Back to this. Deep thought here, gee, um, all pretty much to the first year I did. Yes, good for a point to how I am now about to probably go and do what I thought about.
They just called me back! AGAIN! TWO TIMES! I have to go to combat and kill people again? I have to watch the soldiers around me die and get blown up again? I know that I can‚t do it! OH! Why me or anyone else?
JS: So are you going to report back? I really am not trying to encourage you to go AWOL or not report but I will not say that I would try to stop you. I think that it might take some courage that many would never understand or want to understand for that matter.
DS: You wouldn’t be able to stop me, you wouldn‚t be able to make me do it either, no you don‚t have a thing to do with it. You are just lucky to hear me talk about it. I could hang up and you would always wonder, and it would kill you to want to know what that guy did. But you haven’t tried to get me to pull some big time press publicity stunt; glory seeking, camera time crap, and you don’t want me to tell you too much. Keep it like that and we‚ll keep talking until the last day before I’ve got to make up my mind.
JS: Fair enough. From what you have heard, how many soldiers do you think have gone AWOL or not reported when they were ordered to? Any rough idea or number?
DS: I really don‚t know for sure. The rumors go around and you really don’t know what’s true after a while. I know that I have heard of over 300 of the ready freedies, that’s the IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) who did not show up at the active duty base where we do our ship outs and mobilizations from.
I know they were saying some of the Individual Ready Reserve reporting stations had as much as 50-60% of the soldiers who did not report by the date on the call up notification papers. I really can’t tell you if that’s true, but watch the press and the Military reaction when they don’t report and see the feathers fly when it hits the fan.
Just wait till the end of September and see how much more this is in the news. It won‚t be a story that anyone can hide, but they‚ll try the hardest to drown it out or leave it out.
• 40 Percent of Army Reservists Fail to Report to Fort Jackson
• Fort Jackson Still Waiting for Reservists to Report
• Phony Disengagement, Secret Escalation
(This explains call up and AWOL background from when the orders were originally issued on May 18th 2004.) http://www.antiwar.com/sperry/?articleid=2596