Skip to comments.GIs who refused job had unarmored trucks
Posted on 10/17/2004 2:40:08 PM PDT by freepatriot32
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. Army Reserve soldiers who refused orders to drive a dangerous route were members of one of a few supply units whose trucks are still unarmored, their commanding general said Sunday.
The soldiers, now under investigation, had previously focused on local missions in safer parts of southern Iraq and had never driven a convoy north along the attack-prone roads passing through Baghdad.
"Not all of their trucks are completely armored. In their case, they haven't had the chance to get armored," said Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, commanding general of 13th Corps Support Command, which sends some 250 convoys ferrying Army fuel, food and ammunition across Iraq each day.
Chambers, speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, said the 18 soldiers involved in the incident had returned to duty and it was "too early" to determine if any will undergo disciplinary action.
He said a pair of investigations are examining the soldiers' disobedience as well as their allegations that the trucks were unfit for the hazardous journey. He declined to discuss particulars, citing the soldiers' rights.
Chambers said 80 percent of the 13th Coscom's 4,000 trucks have been fitted with custom steel plate, but some of those in the unit that balked, the 343rd Quartermaster Company, were among the last left unarmored, because the unit's mission normally confines it to a less dangerous part of Iraq.
None of the 13th Coscom's trucks arrived in Iraq with armor. Since February, the unit's engineers and private contractors have been working in impromptu maintenance yards to weld heavy metal "boxes" over truck cabs.
Chambers said the 18 soldiers who refused the mission on Wednesday morning - driving seven fuel tankers from Tallil air base near Nasiriyah to Taji north of Baghdad - also appeared to have also balked at their mission because of the trucks' bad condition.
"They were concerned about the maintenance," Chambers said. "If there is a maintenance issue, we'll clear it up."
Chambers downplayed the incident, saying the disobedience not indicative of wider U.S. Army morale or maintenance problems. The 18 soldiers were "moved to a separate location" for questioning and have all since returned to duty, the general said.
But Chambers did not downplay the danger of driving Iraq's roads, a job that has become the equivalent of front-line combat with Iraq's insurgency, whose deadliest weapon is the hidden roadside bomb.
"In Jim Chambers' opinion, the most dangerous job in Iraq is driving a truck," he said. Soldiers take their missions realizing "it's not if, but when, they will be attacked."
The Army announced last week it was investigating up to 19 members of a platoon from the 343rd Quartermaster Company based in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
On Wednesday, 19 members of the platoon did not show up for a scheduled 7 a.m. meeting in Tallil to prepare for the fuel convoy's departure a few hours later, a military statement said.
The general said a pair of investigations were already under way, and said there were just 18 soldiers whose actions were being probed.
The first investigation, overseen by the 13th Coscom's inspector general and deputy commander, is looking into maintenance and safety practices at the Talil air base, where the 343rd is based.
The second, headed by the commander of the 300th Area Support Group, has ordered a criminal inquiry to determine if any soldiers committed crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and, if so, whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
"Based on our investigations, other actions may be necessary," Chambers said.
As a result of the incident, the entire 343rd is in the midst of a two-week "stand down," bolting on new armor and upgrading maintenance on its vehicles. The 18 soldiers under investigation must complete additional training and win re-certification to regain permission to perform convoy missions, Chambers said.
He said the incident and ongoing maintenance pause had no effects on supplying the U.S. military here. The 21-vehicle convoy still made the run Wednesday, albeit late.
The 15,000 troops under Chambers' command - almost 90 percent of whom are Reservists or National Guard soldiers - have completed 75,000 convoy missions covering the length and breadth of Iraq and suffered 26 killed since April, Chambers said. No members of the 343rd have been killed in Iraq in the nine months they've been here, the general said.
He denied claims by some of the soldiers to their families that the fuel they were to deliver was contaminated. The platoon has troops from Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi and South Carolina.
The papers are beating this story ro death
Thats a new one on me. They didnt have uparmored trucks when I was in Eyerackee Land, and I drove the M931A2, we put sandbags on the hood and our jack plates in the door frames, we called it adapting and overcoming.
Well, if so, this explains things a bit more. Get the dern trucks reinforced with armor! Let the military hammer this out. I can't blame anyone for not wanting to commit suicide, but calling home to Mommy may not be very soldier-like. I guess this is just part of having ladies serving in war zones.
That's a new one because the general didn't say that. I watched it this AM and what he said was that the trucks come without armor and are outfitted when they arrive.
can sandbags stop ak 47 bullets what about mortor shrapnel ?I never heard of anyone doing that before but if it is effective they should all do it and save a ton of money armor plating the trucks with reenforced steel and kevlar.
We need remotely operated heavy transport trucks to handle this sort of thing.
Put the soldiers operating them in relative safety aboard tanks near the convoys or in copters escorting the convoys.
If we can create remotely piloted aircraft that fly from the US all the way to Iraq and back on their own then why not heavy trucks without soldiers in them performing transport duties?
It seems like a relatively simple technical accomplishment to me.... amateur radio operators build remotely piloted model aircraft that they can fly by joystick while sitting in front of a computer screen looking at the view from a small camera mounted on the model... how much harder could operating a truck be?
"It seems like a relatively simple technical accomplishment to me...."
How do you propose the gears be shifted on those big rigs? There are not enough Yoda-like Jedi knights to go around.
Good idea. Then we wouldn't have to use highly trained combat soldiers for that job.
We could contract it out and keep our warriors safe.
the new army
I saw a news report about 2 months ago where the army was offering a million dollar prize for the first person that could come up ith a remote control full size truck that could run a 100 mile course in the desert.There were 20 teams i think but no one was able to pull it off the sand and dust shorted them out and obscured the lenses I think
democrat = security risk.... potential or actual..
One good machinist plus one good pic microcontroller expert and a month or so would give you smooth shifting :-)
It's just easy to do such things these days..
Thanks for your service
I dont really know if the sandbags would be all that effective against bullets, against shrapnel sure. The jack plates are a 1/4 inch steel plate they would be very effective.
We were told that there is no uparmor kits for the M931, either get the welder to weld scrap metal re-enforcement or improvise for safety, we chose improvise. This was in March of 03 at the beginning of the war so some things I am sure changed.
That the DARPA challenge? Not even remote control but fully autonomous ground vehicles. They will run it again next year.
That sounds like a real amateur effort..
I'm suggesting a contract with someone like Raytheon..
If they can whip up terrain guided cruise missiles they can pull this off.
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