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soldiers goes awol because of "inadequate training and equipment"

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/latimests/20050112/ts_latimes/awolsoldiercitesarmyinadequacies&e=4&ncid= AWOL Soldier Cites Army Inadequacies
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 12, 2005
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      http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/latimests/20050112/ts_latimes/awolsoldiercitesarmyinadequacies&e=4&ncid=

      AWOL Soldier Cites Army Inadequacies

      Wed Jan 12, 7:55 AM ET

      �Top Stories - Los Angeles Times

      By Scott Gold Times Staff Writer

      HOUSTON � An Army National Guard soldier said Tuesday
      that the inadequate training and equipment he received
      had led him to abandon his unit rather than face
      deployment to Iraq (news - web sites).

      "I guess I'm AWOL right now," Spc. Joseph Jacobo, 46,
      said in a telephone interview from the Los Angeles
      area.

      Among his concerns, Jacobo said, was that he had been
      unable to find anyone at his Texas training base who
      could fix his M-4 assault rifle, the primary weapon he
      would carry in Iraq. The weapon jams, he said.


      "They try to put old parts in new rifles," he said.
      "It doesn't work. We're having all kinds of problems
      with our automatic weapons."


      Soldiers in Jacobo's Modesto-based National Guard unit
      � the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment � went
      public late last month with concerns that they would
      suffer needlessly high casualty rates in Iraq because
      of poor training. Military officials have denied the
      soldiers' charges, voiced in an article in the Los
      Angeles Times.


      Similar tensions have arisen in other units as the
      military, short on active-duty personnel, has given
      National Guard and Reserve soldiers increased combat
      responsibilities and lengthy overseas assignments.


      The soldiers, who trained at the Army's Ft. Bliss
      Training Complex, said there were equipment problems,
      including trucks without adequate armor and a shortage
      of night-vision goggles. They also said they had
      received very little "theater specific" training to
      prepare them for conditions in Iraq. For example, the
      soldiers said they had learned nothing about convoy
      protection or guarding against insurgents' roadside
      bombs.


      Airing their concerns publicly, Jacobo said, only
      seems to have made matters worse. He said soldiers who
      were suspected of having spoken to the newspaper were
      called "cowards" and "yellow-bellies" by their
      supervisors. Equipment woes were not addressed,
      commanders became more strict and morale reached new
      lows, he said.


      "They didn't change anything," Jacobo said. "How are
      we supposed to have any pride?"


      His unit is scheduled to deploy to Kuwait soon,
      possibly by the end of the week, and then onto Iraq.
      Jacobo said he has been absent without permission
      since Jan. 2, when the soldiers were supposed to
      return from a brief holiday leave.


      Jacobo, who is married with two grown children, said
      he was staying with relatives. He has spent much of
      his adult life in the military, he said, including a
      six-year stint in the Marines that took him to
      Nicaragua. The message on his cellphone voicemail
      concludes, "Semper fi" � the Marine motto that is
      shorthand for semper fidelis, or "always faithful."


      Jacobo said he decided to rejoin the National Guard
      last year because he believed in the Iraq mission.


      "I just thought it was the right thing to do," he
      said.


      Jacobo faces a range of possible punishments. If he
      rejoins his unit soon, he probably would face
      "nonjudicial" punishment that could include extra
      duties and a reduction in rank, said Lt. Col. Coennie
      Woods, a National Guard spokeswoman in Washington.
      Jacobo also could be declared a deserter because his
      unit was preparing to go into combat when he
      disappeared. In that case, Woods said, he could be
      court-martialed, imprisoned for five years and
      dishonorably discharged.

      Woods said she could not comment further on the
      situation. Military officials at Ft. Bliss did not
      return calls seeking comment.
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