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Posted by on Feb 28, 2007 in Media, War | 11 comments

Complaining Soldiers At Walter Reed Told To Stop Talking About Problems

Isn’t it time to use the word? But we won’t. We are far too polite.

We won’t say this Army Times report details what smells like a coverup and/or something truly unworthy of the military men and women who have sacrificed and are on the mend:

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,� one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Oops. Someone is going to have his room under 24 hours constant inspection now.
It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.

Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.

They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.

And, yes, there’s more:

The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed. And 120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit, the soldiers said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Army public affairs did not respond to a request sent Sunday evening to verify the personnel changes.

This truly does not pass “the smell test.” It has the fetid aroma of a decision to shut up via official intimidation people who’ve helped detail a scandal the Pentagon and administration find embarrassing. This really isn’t a “war” issue; this is a classic case of subjects of a story trying to shut down sources and do it in a way so they can deny that is what’s happening.

It raises again the question of how this adminstration’s most loyal supporters can keep supporting it given not just poor policy management and scandals, but tactics used to either clamp down on bad publicity or to go after those who source it. This all-but-in-name clampdown comes from the Pentagon but it resembles a political operation.

The irony:

These wounded soldiers survived bullets and explosive devices in Iraq.

And now they must survive political bullets and exploding tempers of their higher command and Bush adminsitration officials who don’t want to see bad publicity.

And, really, why shouldn’t they be mad?

The bad publicity drowns out the official statements about how much officialdom cares for the troops….

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