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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Visit The Colonel

 
The latest from LTC (Retired) Karen Kwaitkowski, PhD,  a former Pantagon Analyst at the Middle East Desk.

In 2004, Sgt Kevin Benderman filed for conscientious objector status while he and his unit were preparing to redeploy for a second tour in Iraq.

What is it we are doing in Iraq, actually? Well, this is indeed the trillion dollar question. Don't worry your pretty little heads about that, Americans! Just keep sending the boys and the girls and the credit, and Washington will do the rest....

...As Benderman processed his CO status paperwork, the Army charged him with a combination of crimes.

Last week, the Army prosecution succeeded in its case against Sgt Benderman. He was found guilty of "missing a movement" and sentenced to 15 months in prison, reduction in rank, and a dishonorable discharge.

The Army allows for automatic appeals, and ideally Benderman's case will be overturned. I am not a lawyer, but I imagine a case involving inappropriate procedure, punishment, or politicization might end positively for Benderman. As a retired military officer from the late 20 th century American military, I remain pessimistic on all counts.

Benderman's company commander Army Captain Gary Rowley rhetorically asks, "If [the rest of the Army] saw this and found out it works using smoke and mirrors to get by, we'll have other soldiers saying, 'Well, I'm a conscientious objector.' …They need to know there are consequences for not doing their duty."

The irony drips....

...There has indeed been a dishonorable discharge from the United States military. But it didn't start last week, and it most assuredly wasn't Sgt Kevin Benderman.