Brits called to Baghdad amid mutiny fears

October 18th, 2004  

Topic: Brits called to Baghdad amid mutiny fears

Brits called to Baghdad amid mutiny fears
By Christopher Leake in London
October 18, 2004
BRITISH troops are preparing to move into Baghdad after US soldiers staged a mutiny, prompting claims they have lost the will to fight.

As British and American commanders discussed sending in 600 British soldiers, families of the US soldiers defended their action.
Several members of the 343rd Quartermaster Company have told relatives they refused to deliver tainted helicopter fuel in poorly maintained vehicles over a dangerous supply route without an armed escort.
The US army is investigating as many as 19 members of the supply unit, which delivers food and fuel in combat zones.
Harold Casey said his grandson, Justin Rogers, 22, had called to tell him that he and other soldiers were being put under armed guard after refusing to deliver the supplies.
"The fuel for the helicopters was contaminated," Mr Casey said.
"It would have caused them to crash ... they saved lives."
Mr Casey said he was told that his grandson had been detained by military authorities but later released.
Some of the soldiers had already been reduced in rank, he said.
A criminal inquiry is now expected.
Military insiders in Washington claimed the British troops, based in Basra, were needed to "plug a gap" south of Baghdad left after US forces were redeployed to the hotspot of Fallujah.
But sources in Iraq say the call to arms for Britain's Black Watch regiment - which faces the axe this week because of defence cuts - stems from the 17 US reservists who refused to operate the fuel convoy in what they referred to as "a suicide mission".
The men claimed their vehicles were poorly maintained and there was insufficient military support.
A coalition spokesman said: "A small number of the soldiers involved chose to express their concerns in an inappropriate manner, causing a temporary breakdown in discipline."
It is feared the incident will encourage Islamic insurgents to believe American soldiers are "wimping out" of what has been described as another Vietnam.
It has serious political implications for President Bush, who goes to the polls next month.
"Last Wednesday, 19 members of the platoon did not show up for a scheduled 7am meeting at Tallil, in southeastern Iraq, to prepare for the fuel convoy's departure a few hours later," a military statement said.
"The mission was carried out by other soldiers."
The unit is now on a "safety-maintenance stand-down", during which it will conduct no further missions and its vehicles will be inspected.
Three people died in US air raids on the city of Fallujah yesterday, and two US soldiers were killed and two injured when two helicopters collided over Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a statement attributed to terrorist leader Abu Al Zarqawi's group claimed it had beheaded 11 members of the Iraqi police and national guard.
The authenticity of the statement could not be confirmed. Al-Zarqawi's group has beheaded several Westerners in recent months.