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1/03/2004 08:10:00 PM | Timothy

The turkey's service to servicemen
Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon-authorized newspaper of the U.S. military, is bucking for a court-martial.

When last we checked in on Stripes, it was reporting on a survey it did of troops in Iraq, finding that half of those questioned described their units' moral as low and their training as insufficient and said they did not plan to reenlist.

With the Pentagon just recovering from that, Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away.

The newspaper, quoting two officials with the Army's 1st Armored Division in an article last week, reported that "for security reasons, only those preselected got into the facility during Bush's visit. . . . The soldiers who dined while the president visited were selected by their chain of command, and were notified a short time before the visit."

The paper also published a letter to the editor from Sgt. Loren Russell, who wrote of the heroism of his soldiers and then added: "[I]magine their dismay when they walked 15 minutes to the Bob Hope Dining Facility, only to find that they were turned away from their evening meal because they were in the wrong unit. . . . They understand that President Bush ate there and that upgraded security was required. But why were only certain units turned away?"

Russell added that his soldiers "chose to complain amongst themselves and eat MREs, even after the chow hall was reopened for 'usual business' at 9 p.m. As a leader myself, I'd guess that other measures could have been taken to allow for proper security and still let the soldiers have their meal." (link)



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