Saturday, October 31, 2009

Troops feeling the antiwar vibe

British lance corporal Joe Glenton, facing court martial for refusing to return to Afghanistan, reports that fellow soldiers have expressed support for his position:

Joe Glenton, 27, who serves with the Royal Logistics Corps, returned to his barracks near Oxford this week after speaking at a London peace rally in defiance of orders.

After calling for a complete withdrawal of troops, he feared a hostile reaction, but he said that instead of being branded a coward he was applauded by fellow soldiers.

"When I came back to barracks I was wondering what they would throw at me, but the reaction was heartening," he said. "There were handshakes and a lot of pats on the back. Someone said I was saying what everyone else is thinking. I heard that from several people.

"A lot of these guys had just come back from tours of duty. Many senior people said they respected me for following my convictions." ...

''A lot of guys around me didn't know why we were there. The confusion happening in the UK today was evident among the troops three years ago [i.e. when Glenton was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan]." ...

[According to Chris Nineham, a Stop the War campaigner:] "The number of families getting in touch with us has risen. There were virtually no soldiers contacting us last year and now we are hearing from a couple a week who want to get involved."

At a civic reception to mark this week's homecoming of the 2 Rifle battle group from Helmand province, which suffered 23 fatalities in six months, soldiers' parents said they wanted the troops out...

[The father of one returning soldier said:] "Now, I don't think we should be there. If we can't sort it out with the number of troops we have, I don't think we ever will." (link)
Meanwhile, the Guardian's Sean Smith, embedded with US soldiers, has produced a video journal showing, in his words, "the soldiers are losing heart for a fight they feel their presence is only prolonging." See: 'These people just want to be left alone' (video)

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