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U.S. Troops in Germany Go AWOL, File for Objector Status in Face of New Deployments

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, bush, cheney, government, iraq, middle-east, military, politics, terrorism, troops, usa, war, world )

- 3955 days ago -
There's an unexpected front in the Bush administration's "war on terror" - Germany. And the roughly 68,000 U.S. troops stationed across the country often find themselves in the center of controversy over U.S. foreign policy.

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Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:06 pm
U.S. troops in Germany go AWOL, file for objector status in face of new deployments
“The point now is how do we work together to achieve important goals. And one such goal is a democracy in Germany.” – George W. Bush, May 2006

There’s an unexpected front in the Bush administration’s “war on terror” – Germany. And the roughly 68,000 U.S. troops stationed across the country often find themselves in the center of controversy over U.S. foreign policy.

Take Agustín Aguayo, a Mexican-American conscientious objector (CO) formerly based in Bavaria. Aguayo unsuccessfully applied for CO status before deploying in 2004, and citing non-violence, even refused to carry a loaded weapon during his year as a combat medic in Iraq.

In late 2005, Aguayo appealed to a U.S. Federal court on grounds that his CO status had been wrongfully denied, and after his bid was rejected, fled Germany rather than redeploy to Iraq in September 2006. Before surrendering to military authorities in California less than a month later, Aguayo held a press conference stating, “I have come to believe that it is wrong to destroy life, that it is wrong to use war, that it is immoral, and I can no longer go down that path.”

Aguayo was promptly sent back to Germany and thrown in the brig. His case became something of a national cause célèbre, with prominent German newspapers reporting his eventual court martial and conviction for desertion.

Other U.S. troops in Germany seeking early discharge have been luckier, and many can thank the Bammental-based Military Counseling Network (MCN). In fact, all seven of the conscientious objector applicants the MCN supported through the application process in 2006 ended up receiving Honorable discharges.

One was former U.S. Army Specialist Kyle D. Huwer, who served for one and a half years before, as he puts it, “I finally came to my senses and realized that what I was doing was wrong.”

Another was former U.S. Army Private Clifton F. Hicks, who served from the summer of 2003 to late 2005. Hicks says, “I joined to defend the people of the United States, and when I found our Army was not doing that, and that I was in fact being used to further the goals of evil men, I began to question my involvement in such an organization.”

For some troops in Germany, going AWOL (absent without leave) seems the only option, such as “John,” who took a stateside leave earlier this year and never returned.

Even John’s family does not know where he is now, and it could be for the best. His parents are avid Bush-supporters; his uncle works for a weapons manufacturer and his stepfather, for an oil company.

The only person John has fleeting contact with is his girlfriend, “Sarah,” doing her best to cope with his absence. Sarah had lived in Germany with John and is frustrated with life back in the U.S.: “Watching the news here really makes me angry, people are so detached from reality. They increase the troop deployments from 12 to 15 months, and no one besides the military families recognizes it. They are sending back national guard people for multiple deployments, no one recognizes it. You hardly hear anything about what that puts on the families, emotionally and financially. I’m deeply mad and sad about that at the same time.”

Initially gung-ho about enlisting, John said second thoughts arose when he was repairing a phone hookup in Baghdad and spotted “Abu Ghraib” on a faulty fiberoptic cable. He felt part of something wrong: “I didn't directly have blood on my hands, but I was part of it."

John granted an exclusive interview for this article, and spoke about becoming disenchanted with the military. Of his year in Baghdad: “It was not what I was expecting at all. There are people in Iraq making HUGE sums of money profiting over poorly supervised and ill-run government contracts. When you hear about the cost of the war in Iraq, it’s this kind of thing that’s doing it, not the body armor, having to pay the soldiers a couple of meager extra bucks, or armoring the humvees. It’s paying KBR $90 for every time I turn in my laundry while paying poor Pakistani and Filipino workers who work long hours with no days off for years at a time (and handling thousands of bags of laundry) $15 a day.”

John’s unit returned to Germany in mid-2006, but he says, “We were treated like dirt still, and being late in the morning was a serious thing because they were afraid of people killing themselves overnight.”

After a few months out of Iraq, John felt “a tantalizing taste of freedom and what life should be like, not what life in the army is.” Rather than deploying to Afghanistan later this year, he approached the Military Counseling Network and decided to go AWOL.

While MCN counsels U.S. troops on a range of early discharge possibilities, case manager Tim Huber says that conscientious objection and hardship are currently the most prevalent choices: “These two discharges reflect an expansive array of problems with the military, including problems with the morality of the current war in Iraq, family issues, a dismissive attitude on the military's part towards post-traumatic stress disorder, and a general fed-upedness towards rotational deployments with no end in sight.”

Huber and MCN Director Michael J. Sharp face a daunting workload. Since the beginning of this year, they have handled roughly ten new soldier cases every month – a 30% increase over the numbers averaged in 2006.


Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:08 pm
Of course, the majority of U.S. troops in Germany are not seeking early discharge. The military has become a way of life, and that can present challenges when they eventually return home and look for civilian work.

That’s where Sudie Nolan-Cassimatis comes in, a vibrant woman who teaches job-application skills to retiring service members. As part of the Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program, Nolan-Cassimatis travels across Germany to different military bases each week, coaching classes of 10-50 on the finer points of entering the U.S. job market. Basics such as writing résumés and answering interview questions are covered in the course, but as Nolan-Cassimatis observes, “these things seem very straightforward to those of us who have never been in uniform, but don’t seem at all straightforward to folks who have spent their careers in the military.”

She’s clearly dedicated to her work: “Mostly, I am amazed and touched each week at the stories I hear from soldiers. Many of them have been deployed twice or more, even the soldiers who are only 22 years old, and they have a resilient spirit. They've given up multiple years of their lives. Many of them have kids that they've been away from for years at a time. I think it's only fair that they get a shot at a job on the outside.”

Nolan-Cassimatis knows firsthand about having a loved one serving in a war zone. Her husband Dimitri is currently in Baghdad working as a Squadron Surgeon.

Before deploying, Dimitri Cassimatis was a cardiologist at the sprawling Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in southwestern Germany. It is the largest American hospital outside of the U.S. and the first stop for medical and psychiatric evacuees out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

C-17 cargo planes drop off the wounded day and night, and LRMC’s staff of 2,200 can handle 1000 beds in an emergency. A typical day at LRMC sees nine new acute cases.

On a recent visit to the facility, the Iraq war’s toll on U.S. troops was brutally evident. A 23-year-old soldier, physically shattered and facing blindness, was among many battling for life in the Intensive Care Unit. Couldn't even see the newly-earned purple heart pinned to his pillow.

In the next ward, a fresh-faced young woman whose neck had been crushed during a bad fall. A 19-year-old nearby contemplating life with just one leg. Relentless stories of IED (improvised explosive device) attacks and sniper assaults; youth putting a brave face on lives torn apart and innocence lost.

The wounded at LRMC may be under the radar for most Germans, but debate continues over whether the US military presence there ultimately perpetuates the Bush administration’s wars.

Just last week, a group of Iraq veterans and German peace activists demonstrated outside Katterbach Army Airfield in Bavaria, trying to convince active-duty soldiers preparing for a 15-month deployment to reconsider. As Adam Kokesh, a 25-year-old member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, "There is no military solution for Iraq. An army can only destroy." Kokesh and other U.S. veterans were also trying to raise awareness about the struggle of those in the Bavarian town of Ansbach working to resist the expansion of a U.S. military base there.

Advocates point out that Americans have lived peacefully in the country for decades, supporting the economy, contributing to communities and befriending locals.

But as Lori Hurlebaus of Courage to Resist notes, “Even if the German military was not involved in the invasion of Iraq, there is a military conducting a war of aggression from German soil.”

Action ideas:

1. Read more about Agustín Aguayo's case" and check out the site’s great links. Aguayo returned to California in May for a whirlwind speaking tour; invite him to speak in your city via the site.

3. Read more about early discharge possibilities at the Military Counseling Network.

4. Check out Iraq Veterans Against the War founded in 2004 “to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent.” Adam Kokesh and another IVAW member, Liam Madden, are being pressured by the Marines for their antiwar activities. Learn more and take action at the IVAW site.

5. Visit Veterans for Commonsense, which aims “to raise the unique and powerful voices of veterans so that our military, veterans, freedom, and national security are protected and enhanced, for ourselves and for future generations.”

For a videocast version of this article click here. Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives’ Handbook series and can be reached at


Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:09 pm
Great post...Noted/thank...Will pass on to others. Thanks

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:15 pm
See a video of Adam Kokesh on a base in Germany encouraging military members to follow their conscience and not go to Iraq and informing them of the support available in the surrounding German community.

IVAW Brings the GI Anti-War Movement to Germany: Member Adam Kokesh Gives A First-Hand Account

The IVAW German Expeditionary Team conducted its first on base action. Our host, Jurgen Wangler, drove the four of us to the US Army base in Ansbach. At the gate, we deployed Team 1, Chris Capps and Thomas Cassidy. Then Jurgen parked around the corner, and we deployed Team 2, Jeff Englehart and myself. This is an account of our operation. Continue reading

Ted @ 06/12/07 13:15:42AWOL desertion defection i encourage each and ever one to do it
even to run a coup on the constitution

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:23 pm
It is THIS sort of thing that will ACTUALLY STOP THIS BLASTED WAR AND OCCUPATION; NOT more great big marches on Washington!
See the comment by "Ted" above, under "RECENT COMMENTS". Sounds like "Ted" has been thru some of it, himself.
Read the account by Adam Kokesh, on that same site above, of the demonstration he & some others made, RIGHT ON THE ARMY BASE ITSELF!!!! in Germany! Adam Kokesh is the Iraq Veterans Against the War Vet, who recently got his "honorable" discharge revoked!!! He is appealing that decision. Another Vet also got his discharge changed! They think they can do that!!!

Jakki S (173)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:30 pm
GO awol troops!!!

Jennie B (14)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:33 pm
I think they have reached a point of no return. Troops are exhausted and tired of being extended over and over with no real breaks. They know it isn't right and that they are being treated wrongly, plus they know the war is wrong. If this is wide spread enough, they won't be able to stop this-it will infiltrate the whole guard and could bring the war to a stop even if Bush doesn't like it. Noted

Yvonne White (229)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 3:34 pm
The Bu$h-Cheney Gang of thugs do NOT support the troops! I hope ALL the troops wise up & Quit!

Cynthia S (3)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 4:50 pm
While I in no way wish to diminish my support for the TROOPS (other than those who help carry out oppression "just following orders),I stand and applaud those who are going AWOL/CO and saying I will NOT kill,torture, nor throw away my life and family to wage a war based on lies, corruption and greed!!! Instead of looking for more places/countries to bomb,lets take a stand against the evil leaders in the White House and their bedfellows! Charge! for PEACE---

Maureen S (122)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 8:25 pm
Thanks as always BMT! This tells an important true story that we need all pay attnetion to; as the one spouse of the Specialist (I believe! egads!) stated, too many in the U.S. don't recongise the hardship these long deployments (extended or otherwise) and re-deployments do to families. To push a troop to make the choice of CO when they are out of country (i.e., home) makes a statement that all should heed, as it not only takes courage, it means there are deeper flaws within the system that when my husband was in Afghanistan in 2005.

And regardless of their reasons, they deserve every bit of our support. As stated in the article, it's pretty difficult to take when KBR employees are making triple what our troops are making; and many of our troops have to work side by side with these contractors. They are doing the same job, and yet the contractor is making more than the troop; so the money that it's costing us certainly isn't going to the costs of supplies for troops (many which didn't even have bare necessities when Rumsfeld made his infamous statement about going to war with the military one has, not the one desired!!!) is also set forth. (Ibid)

How Americans can sit back and not say anything about this, not be fighting much harder to end this war when these guys are potentially ending all hopes of a career even when and if they make it home, is beyond me. I read an interesting article today about War by an Anthropologist called R. Brian Fergerson (Rutgers) wherein he discusses eight (8) points on war, stating "[a]nthropology has shown war to be shaped by all aspec ts of culture. What is less obvious is how war is a casal force strongly affecting all areas of social life" (Fergerson 2007; American Anthropological Association February News). When we consider that conflict--or war--is a social process aimed at promoting an agenda (Polkinghorn 2005), then it begins to make even more sense. And it demonstrates that we need be taking action rather than continuing to "debate" whether or not we should have et cetera.

We are there; and now it's time to get out. And these troops are merely the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the problems that are accumulated in this war. Thanks again for posting this article! =)

Past Member (0)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 8:49 pm
Noted and filed away for future reference. I believe these young people are going to need a safe haven. Kind of like the ones set up for illegal aliens. I think Montana would be nice. As the government is relentless against those who serve and decide logically not to follow illegal orders. It is sad when illegal aliens have more rights than those who put on the uniform looking to defend and instead are thrust into combat. This is why I say the government is apathetic to the needs of the American People...

Bobbie W (113)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 9:00 pm
Noted-thank you-this is most interesting. Gives you some hope. I applaud and support them!

Mara G (411)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 9:57 pm
Thanks BMT, "THIS" is hat "ALL" of us have been waiting for. Oh please!! I hope it starts something "BIG" and every soldier does his job to protect our Constitution. YAY!!!

Blacktiger P (247)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 10:16 pm
?????Isn't Germany one of the foreign soil bases that Shrubbery and Chaingang wanted to set up more nuclear missile sites???? No wonder the boys are in mutiny! They can visualize nuclear attacks on their own families. I Say to them arrest and hold commanding officers who want their hides for mutiny.

Barbara Tomlinson (431)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 10:36 pm
Just to note here, that my friend JohnMichael Talboo actually posted the article. All I did, was post the CONTENT of the article. Which is usually a good thing to do, as sometimes links can fail or get broken. {Or someone might just be too lazy to go there!} John always finds INTERESTING THINGS. You can't go wrong by following his posts!

Fran Cannon (477)
Wednesday June 27, 2007, 11:12 pm
this is great!

Rod Gesner (60)
Thursday June 28, 2007, 4:15 am
As The Crisis Draws near I would Recomend that All soldiers get thier Families as Far away from military bases As possible Those bases under the guise of Security May become Prison Camps where Thier Families will be held hostage By overpaid Blackwaterthugs to insure your loyalties to The president and The Evil Rich Overlords! Think thats Paranoid?! Not with this Gang of Criminals and Extortionists. Remember there is many a man that has given up his honour to save his family and These cowards in chief have 60 yrs of Nazi psyc ops studies to give them tools to divide and controll; how do you think they have stayed in power so long Congress is Scared Shirtless of thier total Lack of scruples.
Get your families Safe and hit the Ground Runnin Live to fight another Day for FREEDOM

Julia D (92)
Thursday June 28, 2007, 4:43 am
great news! Thanks for posting

Michelle R (13)
Thursday June 28, 2007, 4:54 am
Good to hear. Because the only way the announced dictatorship is going to be powerless, is if the army stops taking and acting on orders from them.

nurith k (93)
Thursday June 28, 2007, 2:54 pm
what does it mean, bush will bring democracy to germany??? we have a lot more democracy than the us has and that for 63 years ( in the west) and now for the whole country since 1989, we have at least 5 and more parties we can elect if we want to, women have more rights than in the us, like abortion laws, etc, so what are these 68.000 troops for??? to take over the country and give us ( the germans) your kind of democracy???? no thanks folks, keep your bushco, nobody wants him here!!!

Rod Gesner (60)
Friday June 29, 2007, 3:42 pm
I Reccomend that Any Soldiers that feel they have no choice but to Stay in Read: "the Good Soldier Schweik" by Jaroslav Hasek; these are a series of books about a Draftee that does everything Short of overt sabotage in his efforts to resist the war by following orders in the most Innept, bungleing Style possible.
Kind of a combination of Klinger, Gomer Pyle, Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin.
It could become The Idea Book of Passive agressive War ressistance for any Soldier with a sense of humour.

Send one to Some one you love That can't get out of the military

(just remember to use underground Channels of delivery Cause the Censors probably have it on thier lists)

The Books are available at and Net Flix has the DVD's.


Teresa del Castillo (1519)
Sunday July 15, 2007, 1:15 pm
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