Brit SAS soldier quits, whines about 'Merkins
LONDON - An elite British soldier revealed on Sunday that he quit the army after refusing to fight in Iraq anymore on moral grounds because of the illegal tactics used by US troops on the ground. Ben Griffin, a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) described in an interview with the The Sunday Telegraph the experiences that led him to end his impressive army career after just three months in Baghdad.
|Mr. Griffin sounds like a sad-sack and a moon-bat. I think the British Army is better off without him.|
The 28-year-old, who was discharged last June, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to quit the army on moral grounds. I saw a lot of things in Baghdad that were illegal or just wrong, Griffin told the weekly newspaper in his first interview since leaving the SAS. I knew, so others must have known, that this was not the way to conduct operations if you wanted to win the hearts and minds of the local population.
And if you cant win the hearts and minds of the people, you cant win the war.
Griffin, who worked in the SASs counter-terrorist team, recalled joint operations to tackle insurgents with his American counterparts. We would radio back to our headquarters that we were not going to detain certain people because, as far as we were concerned, they were not a threat because they were old men or obviously farmers, but the Americans would say: No, bring them back, Griffin said. The Americans had this catch-all approach to lifting suspects. The tactics were draconian and completely ineffective.
|That's working well in Basra, where the Brit strategy has been to turn the joint over to the Iranian inspired and encouraged local gangs. Though the gangs have power, they don't respect the Brits one iota.|
The SAS soldier spoke of another operation, which netted a group of innocent civilians who were clearly nothing to do with the insurgency. I couldnt understand why we had done this, so I said to my troop commander: Would we have behaved in the same way in the Balkans or Northern Ireland? He shrugged his shoulders and said: This is Iraq, and I thought: And that makes it all right?
|Except for the information.|
Griffin said he believed US soldiers had no respect for Iraqis, whom they regarded as sub-human. You could almost split the Americans into two groups: ones who were complete crusaders, intent on killing Iraqis, and the others who were in Iraq because the army was going to pay their college fees, he said. They had no understanding or interest in the Arab culture. The Americans would talk to the Iraqis as if they were stupid and these werent isolated cases, this was from the top down.
There might be one or two enlightened officers who understood the situation a bit better but on the whole that was their general attitude. Their attitude fuelled the insurgency. I think the Iraqis detested them.
|This is, of course, completely at odds with everything we've heard from active duty soldiers, returning soldiers, and milbloggers.|
Griffin said he had reservations about going to Iraq in the first place, but went because he was a soldier and had to obey orders. He soon found it impossible to separate his personal views from his work. It was at that stage that I knew I couldnt carry on. I was very angry, and still am, at the way the politicians in this country and America have lied to the British public about the war, Griffin said. But most importantly, I didnt join the British army to conduct American foreign policy.
In March 2005, Griffin told his commanding officer while on leave that he had no intention of returning to Iraq because he thought the war was morally wrong.
|That punched his ticket to a meeting with Cindy Sheehan, I'm sure.|
The Ministry of Defence, when contacted by The Sunday Telegraph, declined to comment.
Posted by: Steve White 2006-03-12