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Troops mutiny in Iraq? Not Quite

(h/t E&P)

I just read a very cautionary tale about the horrors of war and the toll they take on our troops. Army Times has a lengthy piece about a platoon that reached the line and more.

It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.

Eventually they refuse a patrol and technically they may have committed a mutiny, but it would be more fair to call it  mental collapse of their will or ability to fight or to fight properly. It is one of those cases where an inordinate amount of awful events happens to a small group and the hits just keep on coming.

But within days, he would lose five men, including a respected senior non-commissioned officer. Master Sgt. Jeffrey McKinney, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, was known as a family man and as a good leader because he was intelligent and could explain things well. But Staff Sgt. Jeremy Rausch of Charlie Company’s 1st Platoon, a good friend of McKinney’s, said McKinney told him he felt he was letting his men down in Adhamiya.

“First Sergeant McKinney was kind of a perfectionist and this was bothering him very much,” Rausch said. On July 11, McKinney was ordered to lead his men on a foot patrol to clear the roads of IEDs. Everyone at Apache heard the call come in from Adhamiya, where Alpha Company had picked up the same streets Charlie had left. Charlie’s 1st Platoon had also remained behind, and Rausch said he would never forget the fear he heard in McKinney’s driver’s voice:

“This is Apache seven delta,” McKinney’s driver said in a panicked voice over the radio. “Apache seven just shot himself. He just shot himself. Apache seven shot himself.”

The First Sergeant is a vital member of any fighting unit and in most he is a central anchor for the camaraderie and esprit de corps required to get men to march to gunfire. If Top couldn't take it, how can the troops?This was not a mutiny it was men who got hit with too much and stepped back and said Whoa, we are not well right now.  I find it admirable that they recognized they were losing their restraint and that they felt the possibility of stepping over the line.

The story is heart-breaking, but it seems to me that the Army handled it as well as they could. The men were not court-martialed, they were flagged for promotion and medals for a while and then re-instated with no adverse action. I wish them all well.