The United States Army’s mission is to provide ground forces for American military operations and wars. Since the founding of the country, the Army has played key roles in major military campaigns, from the Revolutionary War to World Wars I and II to current ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ongoing military operations in Iraq have been the source of much controversy for the Army, including scandals involving prisoner abuse and fraud by Army contractors.
The United States Army is the oldest branch of the US armed services, originating during the Revolutionary War as the Continental Army. It fought its first major battle at Lexington and Concord during the war for independence, which lasted until 1783. Due to fears that a standing military might constitute a threat to the fledgling democracy, the new US government disbanded the army and navy following the war. This left the United States in a vulnerable position vis-à-vis England which continued to maintain military forces near the Great Lakes and to harass American shipping.
Following the seizure of several American ships in the early 19th Century, the US government declared war on England in 1812. At the dawn of the conflict, the US Army totaled approximately 12,000 officers and men, including an estimated 5,000 new recruits. The War of 1812
was marked by numerous military failures, including the capture and burning of Washington, DC, by British forces.
For the next 40 years the Army was preoccupied with helping settle the American West, as Manifest Destiny
encouraged settlers to move into the outer reaches of US territory. The US annexation of Texas in 1845 provoked the outbreak of the Mexican-American War
that lasted from 1846 to 1848. When the war began, the US Army had only 8,600 officers and men, and almost half were assigned to frontier defense. Because more than 30 years had elapsed since the last war, most of the soldiers had no combat experience. In response to the manpower shortage, Congress authorized the president to call up 50,000 volunteers, who, after receiving a bare minimum of training, left for Mexico.
In spite of the its lack of battle-tested veterans, the Army succeeded in winning the conflict and forcing Mexico to give up not only Texas, but the territories that would be become Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, California, Nevada and Utah.
The Civil War
(1860-1865) marked the greatest test for members of the Army up until that time. Just as the rest of the country became divided over the secession of the Southern states, officers and enlisted men in the Army had to choose between fighting in the Union Army or the Confederate Army. Robert E. Lee was among the Army’s best generals whose loyalty resided with the Confederacy. Although the Union Army enjoyed advantages stemming from the North’s industrial superiority, Lee’s Confederate forces won several early victories in the war, including the Battle of Bull Run. The Union Army was forced to shake up its leadership as a result of these embarrassing losses, and it was not until the accession of generals Ulysses Grant and William T. Sherman that the Union Army began to turn the tide of the war in favor of the North.
For the remainder of the 19th Century, the Army was engaged in numerous bloody conflicts with Native American tribes, as Americans continued settling the West. The Dakota War of 1862 involved the death of several hundred US soldiers and Native Americans, along with the trial of 300 Sioux on counts of murder and rape by American military tribunals, many resulting in death sentences. Most of the death sentences were commuted, but on in December 1862, 38 Dakota Sioux men were hanged by the Army in the largest mass execution in US history. The most infamous event between Army soldiers and Native Americans came at the massacre at Wounded Knee
, South Dakota, where 500 troops gunned down 300 Sioux men, women and children.
World War I marked the beginning of the US Army’s introduction to modern warfare. The conflict featured the use of new forms of warfare, including tanks and chemical weapons, for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) led by Major General John “Black Jack” Pershing. Of the more than 500,000 “doughboys” to serve in the AEF, approximately 234,000 were wounded and 50,000 were killed in action or died of wounds. Some AEF soldiers (almost 8,000) participated in an aborted invasion of Russia to help support the “White Army” during the Bolshevik Revolution that overthrew the Czars.
Following the end of WWI, Army veterans were promised by Congress a bonus payment of $1,000, although payment wasn’t due until 1945. As the Depression deepened in 1932, some 12,000 to 15,000 veterans and their families began to converge on the nation’s capital demanding immediate payment of the bonus. The so-called “Bonus Army” camped out in shantytowns outside Washington, DC, and eventually grew to 25,000 in population. When the Bonus Army became too much of an embarrassment to President Herbert Hoover, the regular Army was called out to disperse the veterans, resulting in several deaths.
When world war reached the United States for a second time in 1941, the US Army was called upon to help America fight a two-front war. In the European Theater, American GIs under the leadership of generals George Patton, Mark Clark and Omar Bradley participated in key engagements in North Africa, Italy and the Normandy invasion that led to the liberation of France. Elements of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division also played a historic role in the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last ditch attempt to stave off. In the Pacific Theater, Army units participated in “island hopping” campaigns to capture key island regions from Japanese forces. GIs encountered intense fighting during successful campaigns on Guadalcanal, the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines, among other engagements.
Contrary to earlier post-war periods, the era following WWII was not marked by a downsizing of the Army. Instead, infantry and armored divisions were maintained, if not expanded, as part of the United States preparation for potential hostilities against the Soviet Union. US Army divisions made up a significant portion of the NATO forces guarding Western Europe, and other American units saw heavy action in the Korean War.
During the Cold War, the Army developed a role in America’s strategic nuclear weapons. While the Air Force controlled missile silos, the Army was charged with providing a defense against nuclear attack. This responsibility ranged from manning early-warning radar systems to developing tactical missiles to shoot down ballistic nuclear-tipped missiles fired at the US. Early efforts
(PDF) included the Safeguard system using Spartan and Sprint missiles. Later the Patriot missile system was deployed during the Gulf War to help defend Israel from SCUD missiles fired by Iraq.
Also during the Cold War, the Army ramped up its intelligence division. Earlier intelligence efforts
during World War I and II concentrated on protecting Army communications and signaling systems from being acquired by the enemy. As espionage activities between the US and Soviet Union grew in scope, the Army expanded its own efforts of counterintelligence. In time the Army created the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Germany, the 470th Military Intelligence Group in Panama, the 500th Military Intelligence Group in Japan and the 501st Military Intelligence Group in Korea.
Army intelligence gathering got out of hand
, however, during the Vietnam War, as Army agents were ordered to spy on war protesters and Army personnel who refused to fight in the war. With the advent of large-scale antiwar protests, the Army argued that the files of the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies were not adequate for its intelligence needs. The Army extended its purview into areas normally reserved to regular law enforcement bodies, which was done without Congressional approval, and in some cases, clandestine activities were done without the knowledge of Army civilian officials. The Army compiled dossiers on between 2,000 and 5,000 individuals and numerous political organizations, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Army also circulated to base commanders a six-volume “blacklist” of dissidents and their organizations.
The Army’s spying on Americans during the Vietnam War added to the marring of its reputation during the 1960s and early 1970s. While 38,000 soldiers died in combat, the war’s unpopularity at home led to heated protests, and many soldiers were labeled “baby killers” following reports of atrocities. The worst such incident occurred at the village of My Lai where elements of the 23rd
Infantry Division murdered almost 500 South Vietnamese. The controversy also exposed an attempt by the Army’s leadership, led by General William Westmoreland, to cover up details of the incident. Army leadership was accused of similar attempts to limit the American public’s knowledge about military activities in the Vietnam War. These efforts became apparent after the publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
Meanwhile, Army rank-and-file suffered from numerous cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and undiagnosed medical conditions stemming from chemicals, such as Agent Orange, employed by the US military.
During the 1970s, after the US pulled out of South Vietnam, the Army went through a period of decline as young Americans turned away from military service and the federal government did away with the draft. With the election of President Ronald Reagan, however, the federal government made a concerted effort to revitalize the reputation of the US military. The Army revamped its recruiting and marketing campaigns (“Be All You Can Be”) to appeal to a new generation of young recruits. Military campaigns in Grenada and Panama were used to emblazon a new patriotism in the country, culminating in the US army’s significant role in the Gulf War in 1990-1991. Operation Desert Storm showcased the military’s arsenal of high-tech weaponry, including the Army’s Abrams Tank, which served as the backbone of American armored units that rolled across Iraq with lightning quickness. The minimal number of US casualties gave the Army a new sense of invincibility, even though many veterans later suffered from serious undiagnosed maladies known as Gulf War Syndrome
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US Army became an integral part of the Bush administration’s Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) campaign. Army Rangers and other Special Operations units played key roles in the invasion of Afghanistan to route al Qaeda and its Taliban allies governing the country. Army armored divisions led the 100,000-strong invasion of Iraq in 2003 that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein in a matter of just a few months. But with the end of the fighting against the Iraqi army, US soldiers soon were confronted with a different, more elusive enemy in the form of Iraqi guerilla fighters using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) buried along roadsides. Again and again Army units suffered small, but mounting casualties in roadside bombings while commanders and politicians debated whether ground forces were deployed in sufficient numbers to quell attacks or if any progress was being made in winning the hearts-and-minds of the Iraqi people. This latter concern was thwarted by revelations of abuses of Iraqi prisoners by US military personnel (see Controversies).
Until 2007 President Bush steadfastly refused to increase the number of Army units in Iraq. Finally, in the wake of the 2006 election that saw Republicans lose control of Congress to Democrats, the President ordered the deployment of an additional 20,000 troops.
The United States Army’s mission is to provide ground forces for American military operations and wars. Combat forces generally consist of foot soldiers, or infantry, or soldiers who man tanks and artillery that make up armored units. Other Army personnel provide a variety of support duties, from engineering to medical care to fuel and food.
To facilitate coordination and effectiveness in combat, the Army separates its personnel into groupings, or units, of different sizes. The smallest of these units are squads, composed of four to 10 soldiers. Platoons consist of three or four squads (or 16-40 soldiers); companies, three to four platoons (100-200 soldiers); battalions, three to five companies (500-600 soldiers); brigades, three or more battalions (3,000-5,000 soldiers); divisions, three brigades (10,000-18,000 soldiers); and corps, two to five divisions. A hierarchal structure of these units, plus a listing of the type of ranks that command each units, is found in the Army’s Operational Unit Diagram
Army forces deployed overseas, currently numbering about 256,000, come under the command of different geographical regions. US Army Central (USARCENT)
covers the Middle East, parts of northeast Africa and southwest Asia. Central Command also oversees the Army’s ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. By May 2007 there were reportedly 160,000 soldiers deployed in Iraq. Some of the units stationed are:
- 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, TX
- 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY
- 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, LA
- 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, TX
- 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA
- 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, HI
- 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Stryker), Vilseck, Germany
- 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany
In addition to the geographic commands, the Army has US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC)
which overseas all of the Army’s elite commando units, or Special Ops, including Airborne, Rangers and Night Stalkers.
US Army Material Command (AMC)
is the Army’s lead office for procurement and developing new weapons and other materials used by soldiers. AMC’s motto is, “If a soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, communicates with it, or eats it - AMC provides it.” Much of what AMC provides to the Army is through defense contractors (see Stakeholders).
US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM)
plans and conducts intelligence, security and information operations for Army commanders, as well for the president and other top federal officials. INSCOM underwent downsizing
following the end of the Cold War, but has seen a resurgence of mission since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.
US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM)
is responsible for providing all facets of medical care to Army personnel. It runs eight Army medical centers, including Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which was the source of much controversy in 2007 (see Controversies)
US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
not only has designed buildings and infrastructure for the Army but also important water projects throughout the country, from dams to levees. The Corps was one of many federal entities blamed for the flooding of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck (see Controversies).
US Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC)
is the Army’s primary criminal investigative organization responsible for the conduct of criminal investigations in which the Army is, or may be, a party of interest. CID Special Agents conduct criminal investigations that range from death to fraud, on and off military reservations and when appropriate, with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
US Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC)
oversees testing centers and facilities that examine and analyze weapons and non-weapons systems employed by the Army and other segments of the Department of Defense. Among the facilities that ATEC manages is the White Sands Missile Range, long a key research locale for testing new rockets and missiles.
Chief of Staff, US Army: George W. Casey, Jr.
General George W. Casey, Jr. has served as the Army’s Chief of Staff since April 10, 2007. He first joined the Army in 1970 as a second lieutenant of infantry following his attendance at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Casey’s other higher education credentials include a master’s degree in international relations from Denver University and serving as a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States.
Throughout his career, Casey has served in operational assignments in Germany, Italy, Egypt, Southwest Asia and the United States. He has commanded at every level from platoon to division. His principal staff assignments have been as chief of staff, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; operations officer and chief of staff, V (US/GE) Corps, Heidelberg, Germany; deputy director for politico-military affairs, Joint Staff; commander, Joint Warfighting Center/J7, US Joint Forces Command; director strategic plans and policy and director of the Joint Staff; 30th Vice Chief of Staff, United States Army.
He commanded a mechanized infantry battalion at Fort Carson, Colorado; a mechanized infantry brigade at Fort Hood, Texas; served as assistant division commander for maneuver and support in the 1st Armored Division in Bosnia and Germany; and commanded the 1st Armored Division in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.
Prior to becoming Army Chief of Staff, Casey was the commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq until February 2007. He voiced skepticism
of President Bush’s decision to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq, instead wanting to focus on training Iraqi forces. He later testified
before Congress telling lawmakers that President Bush had ordered thousands more troops into Iraq than was needed. Casey’s controversial remarks included complaints about the Army being stretched too thin
and reaffirming Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s criticism
of President Bush on military shortages.
Army general: 'No reason to doubt' Obama's story
Almost all of the weapons, equipment and supplies used by the US Army are provided through defense contractors. According USAspending.gov., in FY 2007, 79,087 different companies received Department of Defense contracts totaling $312 billion. However the top six companies, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon and BAE Systems, received almost one third of that money.
General Dynamics manufacturers the M1 Abrams tank
, the Army’s main battle tank. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, another mainstay of armored units, is built by BAE Systems Land and Armaments
. The Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle is made by General Dynamics.
The primary assault rifle used by soldiers since Vietnam is the M16, built by Colt
, which also builds the Army’s M203 Grenade Launcher. However, the Army is replacing the M16 with the XM8 Light Assault Rifle, produced by Alliant Techsystems
and Heckler & Koch.
The Army also relies on Beretta for its 9mm pistols.
In many cases the manufacture of a weapons system involves multiple defense contractors. Components of the Army’s Apache attack helicopter include the airframe (Boeing) and fire control radar (Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin). The Black Hawk helicopter is built by United Technologies
and General Electric. The Chinook transport helicopter is provided by Boeing, Rockwell Collins, Honeywell and Robertson Aviation.
The Patriot Missile System is built by Raytheon
and Lockheed Martin. The TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command-link guided) Missile System is a product of Hughes (missiles), Hughs and Kollsman (night sights) and Electro Design Manufacturing (launchers). The Army employs several types of Howitzer artillery cannons produced by Rock Island Arsenal, Watervliet Arsenal, Seller Instruments and Royal Ordnance, UK.
The Army also utilizes contractors to provide a variety of logistics and other services. A subsidiary of Halliburton, long known as an oil services provider with strong ties to the Bush administration, was until 2006 providing soldiers with food, shelter and communications with friends and family back home through a billion-dollar exclusive-rights contract (see Controversies).
Private security contractors also have been hired by the Army to provide specially trained personnel for operations in Iraq. This included the hiring of employees of CACI International Inc. and the Titan Corporation who wound up implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal (see Controversies).
In March 2008 the New York Times reported that a newly-formed defense contractor was supplying the Army with old and unusable munitions for Afghanistan military forces. AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces following the awarding of a $300 million contract by the US Army.
The company had provided ammunition that was more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging. Much of the ammunition came from aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO had determined to be unreliable and obsolete and had spent millions of dollars to have destroyed. In purchasing munitions, AEY has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.
Furthermore, tens of millions of rifle and machine-gun cartridges were manufactured in China, making their procurement a possible violation of American law. The company’s president, Efraim E. Diveroli, was secretly recorded in a conversation that suggested corruption in his company’s purchase of more than 100 million aging rounds in Albania.
The Army suspended the company from any future federal contracting, citing shipments of Chinese ammunition and claiming that Mr. Diveroli misled the Army by saying the munitions were Hungarian. The NYT investigation also revealed that AEY’s leadership included a 22-year-old vice president who previously worked as a licensed masseur.
Army Probes Iraq Contracts
In August 2007 the Army announced that it would review as many as 18,000 contracts awarded over the past four years to support US forces in Iraq to determine how many were tainted by waste, fraud and abuse. The contracts collectively were worth almost $3 billion and represented every transaction made between 2003 and 2007 by a contracting office in Kuwait, which the Army had identified as a significant trouble spot.
Among the contracts to be reviewed by the Army were awards to former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, which had received billions of dollars since 2001 to provide food and shelter services to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The announcement by Army Secretary Pete Geren came as the number of criminal cases related to the acquisition of weapons and other supplies for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan had grown to 76, while 20 military and civilian Army employees had been indicted on charges of contract fraud.
KBR Employee Indicted
In July 2007 it was reported that Anthony Martin, 58, a former employee of KBR Inc., pleaded guilty to receiving more than $200,000 in kickback payments for awarding subcontracts to a Kuwaiti company. The Justice Department said the kickback payments were incorporated into the prices of the subcontracts paid by the military.
KBR, a one-time subsidiary of oil services giant Halliburton, was required to provide the US military with 50 semi tractors and 50 refrigeration trailers for a six-month period. Martin admitted in a federal court to participating in a kickback scheme in which the Kuwaiti company agreed to pay Martin 50 Kuwaiti dinars - approximately $170 - per semi tractor per month under any government subcontract Martin awarded to the company.
On June 17, 2003, Martin awarded a $4.67 million subcontract to the Kuwaiti company. Under the kickback agreement, according to the Justice Department, Martin was to receive kickback payments of approximately $50,240, including $10,000 Martin already had received as an advance.
During the plea hearing, Martin admitted to additional illegal conduct in his award of another subcontract to the same Kuwaiti company in July 2003. On July 11, 2003, Martin solicited bids in an e-mail sent to a number of potential subcontractors – including the managing partner of the Kuwaiti company – to supply 300 semi tractors and 300 fuel tanker trailers for a six-month period.
Walter Reed Neglect Exposed
Walter Reed Medical Center was long considered the jewel of the Army’s medical care system. But after two wars, first Afghanistan then Iraq, the hospital found itself overrun with patients suffering serious medical and psychological conditions. An expose by the Washington Post revealed that many soldiers were being housed in sub-standard facilities that included decaying, mold-infested walls, mouse droppings, dead cockroaches, stained carpets and cheap mattresses.
Other wounded soldiers were forced to stay in nearby hotels and apartments leased by the Army because the number of patients had exceed the total of staff by 17 to one. Seventy-five percent of the troops polled by Walter Reed said their experience was “stressful.” Suicide attempts and unintentional overdoses from prescription drugs and alcohol, which is sold on post, also occurred.
Major General George W. Weightman, commander at Walter Reed, said in an interview that a major reason outpatients stayed so long at the hospital, contrary to the days when injured soldiers were discharged as quickly as possible, was that the Army wanted to hang on to as many soldiers as it could, “because this is the first time this country has fought a war for so long with an all-volunteer force since the Revolution.”
Halliburton Subsidiary Dropped by Government
Following an audit of its billing to the US Army, KBR Inc., a one-time subsidiary of oil services giant Halliburton, lost its billion-dollar contract to provide food, shelter and communications services to US troops in Iraq. The decision to drop KBR came after several years of attacks from critics who saw the contract as a symbol of politically connected corporations profiteering on the war. KBR’s parent, Halliburton, was once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs. Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water. Company officials denied the allegations. Army officials defended the company’s performance but also acknowledged that reliance on a single contractor left the government vulnerable.
The Pentagon planned to split the work among three companies, with a fourth firm hired to help monitor the performance of the other three. In spite of the controversy, it was announced that KBR would still be eligible to bid on the work. Other companies expected to bid included Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Army Corps of Engineers and Katrina
Following investigations into the cause of flooding in New Orleans in 2005, the US Army Corps of Engineers took responsibility for levee failures that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Reports showed the levees failed because they were built in a disjointed fashion using outdated data.
Katrina damaged 169 miles of the 350-mile hurricane system that protected New Orleans and was blamed for more than 1,570 deaths in Louisiana alone. An investigation by the Corps found that serious work began on New Orleans’ hurricane protection system in the 1960s after Hurricane Betsy flooded the city in 1965. But over the decades, funding slackened and many parts of the system were not finished by the time Katrina hit.
The result was a disjointed system of levees, inconsistent in quality, materials and design, that left gaps exploited by the storm, the Corps report said. Also, engineers did not take into account the poor soil quality underneath New Orleans and failed to account for the sinking of land, which caused some sections to be as much as 2 feet lower than other parts.
Four breaches in canals that ran through New Orleans were caused by foundation failures that were “not considered in the original design of these structures,” the report said. Those breaches caused two-thirds of the city’s flooding.
Bribe Inquiry Involves Army Special Ops
Federal investigators uncovered a bribery scheme as well as accusations of improper influence involving millions of dollars in battlefield equipment used by Army Green Berets and Rangers. The investigations examined the hiring of a former Special Operations Command official by a military contractor as well as financial contributions by military contractors to a nonprofit organization that ran social events for the Special Forces. Among those under investigation was Gen. Bryan Brown, who headed the command until July 2007.
A civilian procurement official at the command, William E. Burke, pleaded guilty in federal court to having accepted bribes from an individual who represented military contractors seeking to equip commandos. The Special Forces command also investigated all of the contracts handled by Burke since 1999 to see whether special forces troops received inferior equipment as a result of the kickbacks.
As a result of the scandal, the Pentagon began looking into accusations, made by current and former employees, that a former military procurement official who oversaw millions of dollars in Boeing Company contracts went to work for Boeing after leaving the command.
Burke was convicted and sentenced to three months probation, six months of home detention and fined $4,500.
Pat Tillman Cover Up
Following the 9/11 attacks, NFL star Pat Tillman did the unheard of. He walked away from a million-dollar career playing pro football in order to enlist in the Army. Wanting to fight al Qaeda and capture its leader, Osama Bin Laden, Pat wound up serving in the Army Rangers along with his brother, Kevin.
Pat Tillman’s enlistment grabbed the attention of the nation - and the highest levels of the Bush administration. A personal letter from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thanked him for serving his country. Instead of going to Afghanistan, as the brothers expected, their Ranger battalion was sent to participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Tillmans saw combat several times on their way to Baghdad. In early 2004, they finally were assigned to Afghanistan.
On April 22, 2004, the Tillmans’ Ranger company was searching for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in a village called Manah when one of their humvees became disabled. The unit proceeded to split up, and during an ensuing firefight with Taliban fighters, Pat Tillman was killed. Tillman’s death came at a sensitive time for the Bush administration - just a week before the Army’s abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib
in Iraq became public and sparked a huge scandal. The Pentagon immediately announced that Tillman had died heroically in combat with the enemy, and President Bush hailed him as “an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror.”
His killing was widely reported by the media, including conservative commentators such as Ann Coulter, who called him “an American original - virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” His May 3, 2004, memorial in San Jose drew 3,500 people and was nationally televised.
Not until five weeks later, as Tillman’s battalion was returning home, did officials inform the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed accidentally by his fellow soldiers in a case of “friendly fire.” The Tillman family was outraged and sought the help of US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to find out why they had not been told the truth sooner about Pat’s death. A House committee investigated the matter, and eventually the Army censured a three-star general, Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., for failing to follow procedures requiring him to notify the Tillman family and top officials about the investigation into the possibility of friendly fire. Some critics contended Kensinger was merely a scapegoat to avoid those higher up in the chain of command from being implicated in the scandal, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Torture at Abu Ghraib
Once US military forces toppled the government of Saddam Hussein, the Army took control of one of the legendary dictator’s infamous prisons: Abu Ghraib. The prison occupied 280 acres with over 4 kilometers of security perimeter and 24 guard towers, making it a virtual city within a city. Abu Ghraib was where Saddam Kamal (head of the Special Security Organization) oversaw the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners during the reign of Saddam Hussein. As many as 4,000 prisoners were executed by Iraqi security personnel at Abu Ghraib Prison in 1984 alone.
In late April 2004, with the prison under the control of the US military, photographs surfaced that depicted abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners held at the prison. Some of the pictures depicted US soldiers, both men and women in military uniforms, laughing and giving thumbs-up signs while posing with naked Iraqi prisoners made to stand, stacked in a pyramid or positioned to perform sex acts.
It turned out that a criminal investigation by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command had already been underway since 2003 to look into allegations of prisoner abuse by the 320th MP Battalion. The findings of that investigation were revealed in the Taguba Report
which found that between October and December 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. The systematic and illegal abuse of detainees was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th MP Battalion).
Some of the wrongdoing included breaking chemical lights and pouring phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack.
The report also contained information about private contractors who were supervising interrogations in the prison. One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but was not charged because military law had no jurisdiction over him. The investigation named CACI International Inc. and the Titan Corporation in the scandal.
A year later, more disturbing revelations surfaced about Army doctors and the medical care system at Abu Ghraib. Some military doctors helped inflict distress on prisoners, while amputations were performed by non-doctors and chest tubes recycled from the dead to the living.
The fallout from the scandal resulted in the removal of 17 soldiers and officers from duty, and seven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and September 2005, the seven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to federal prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to 10 years and three years in prison, respectively. The commanding officer at the prison, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was demoted to the rank of colonel.
Torture at Abu Ghraib
(by Seymour Hersh, New Yorker)
Randy Lynn - 6/10/2010 3:34:14 PM
I have read about the issues at the Arlington National Cemetery and the dismissal of those in charge. I would like an opportunity to discuss appointment to this respectful facility. Whom should I contact for this inquiry?
Annual Budget: $140 billion
Department of the Army