YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Soldiers Dismissed for Refusing U.S. Training

June 05, 2005|From Reuters

RUTBAH, Iraq — An Iraqi army unit has been disbanded after refusing to attend a U.S. training course in Baghdad, former members of the unit said Saturday.

The soldiers, part of a 90-strong unit called the Defense Force of Rutbah, said they had refused to attend the training because they feared reprisals from locals if they were seen to have cooperated with the Americans.

"We refused to go because we were afraid that when we came back to Rutbah we would be killed," said Taha Allawi, a former member of the unit. "The people here would believe that we were cooperating with U.S. forces, and that is a reason for anyone to be killed."

Rutbah is in the far west of Iraq, close to the border with Jordan in an area that is considered an insurgent stronghold.

A U.S. military official who oversees training said Iraqis who refused to attend courses could be dismissed, but that the decision rested with Iraq's Ministry of Defense.

"While coalition forces may have delivered the news, those decisions are made by the Ministry of Defense," Lt. Col. Fred Wellman said.

"The United States does not disband units or dismiss soldiers," Wellman said.

Iraq's Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.

Another former soldier in the force, Ahmed Dhahi, said that once it became clear that the unit would not attend, the U.S. military took away members' weapons, uniforms and identification tags and dismissed the force.

Los Angeles Times Articles