US soldiers refuse ‘suicide mission’

The army says it is investigating why 19 members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company based at Tallil failed to appear for a fuel delivery mission on Wednesday morning.

The incident came to light through media reports of cell phone calls placed by members of the company to stateside relatives.

Sergeant Patrick McCook told his wife, Patricia, that he and his comrades had refused to go on a refueling convoy because they considered it too dangerous.

“They refused to go because the trucks they were driving were not adequately protected,” Patricia McCook told American television. “They don’t have bulletproof protection on the vehicles, they don’t go fast at all.”

Another US serviceman, Amber McClenny, left a message on her mother’s answering machine that says “We have broken-down trucks, non-armored vehicles. We were carrying contaminated fuel. They are holding us against our will. We are prisoners.”

A Mississippi newspaper quoted relatives of the soldiers as saying they had been arrested by the army for refusing a “suicide” fuel delivery mission, were read their rights and were moved from a military barracks into tents.

However, the army says the soldiers had neither been arrested nor detained.

“Initial indication is that the soldiers scheduled for the convoy mission raised some valid concerns and the command is addressing them,” the army says in a statement issued in Baghdad.

“Unfortunately it appears that a small number of the soldiers involved chose to express their concerns in an inappropriate manner causing a temporary breakdown in discipline confined only to some members of the platoon involved,” it says, insisting it was an isolated incident.

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