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Breaking Ranks

Breaking Ranks: Iraq Veterans Speak Out against the War

Matthew Gutmann
Catherine Lutz
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    Breaking Ranks
    Book Description:

    Breaking Ranksbrings a new and deeply personal perspective to the war in Iraq by looking into the lives of six veterans who turned against the war they helped to fight. Based on extensive interviews with each of the six, the book relates why they enlisted, their experiences in training and in early missions, their tours of combat, and what has happened to them since returning home. The compelling stories of this diverse cross section of the military recount how each journey to Iraq began with the sincere desire to do good. Matthew Gutmann and Catherine Anne Lutz show how each individual's experiences led to new moral and political understandings and ultimately to opposing the war.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94790-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. [vii]-[xii])
  4. Introduction A Different Kind of War Story
    (pp. 1-12)

    Looking back several years later on his first day at war in Iraq, Navy medic Charlie Anderson sighed and said, “I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.”¹

    The learning curve would soon rise steeply in front of him.

    Originally from Rossford, Ohio, Charlie had crossed over from Kuwait in March 2003 with the Marines 1st Expeditionary Force. Like many around him in uniform, he was deeply afraid and intensely intrigued, angry and resigned, excited and ambivalent about the mission he was on. Trained as a navy corpsman attached to the Marines, he especially relished the idea of helping his...


    • ONE Recruiting Volunteers
      (pp. 15-38)

      In junior high school, having a father who was a drug pusher and a weightlifter could be a blessing. When anyone tried to mess with Chris Magaoay, “I flashed my dad’s name around and people shut up. My dad was their drug dealer.” But when Chris got to high school, some of that reputational protection service began to come apart. Maybe it was because he was just a bit smaller than others, or maybe he experienced the sting of teasing more than they did, but he felt bullied. At home no one understood or could help, especially his father:...

    • TWO Training
      (pp. 39-55)

      When the Twin Towers collapsed in a hell of fire and ash, Demond Terrell Mullins was in Fort Knox, Kentucky, preparing to become a soldier. In fact, he was “in holding,” waiting to begin basic training. “I didn’t even know how to wear a uniform yet. We were being issued gear, but we didn’t know how to wear it because we weren’t soldiers yet. We hadn’t even met our drill sergeants.” And, he adds, “I was scared shitless.”

      At first, Demond and the other members of his New York State National Guard unit were told that the New Yorkers among...

    • THREE First Missions
      (pp. 56-76)

      Three of the soldiers you have met so far went from their training to deployment in the Balkans before they made their way to Iraq. These early missions gave them a comparative advantage when they arrived in the Middle East, for they already had some sense of what a (former) war zone looked like and of what it was like to be a U.S. soldier in action. This was true even if their duties as peacekeepers differed from those they would be given in Iraq. These early missions provided a crucial perspective on every experience they had later in Iraq....


    • FOUR Inside Iraq, on the Outskirts of Reality
      (pp. 79-99)

      While family and friends back home in the United States were walking the dog, cursing the boss, studying for exams, or out looking for work, Charlie, Ricky, Tina, Chris, Demond, and Garett were otherwise occupied. From the moment five of them disembarked in the war zones of Iraq, the normal disappeared and fear became the normal. Suddenly and irreversibly life was 24/7 vigilance about the risk posed by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and suggested by Iraqi civilians who were peering at them from doorways, unknown and often unfriendly. Now when they heard the wordmissionall they could think of...

    • FIVE Face to Face with Iraqi Civilians
      (pp. 100-117)

      For most troops, opportunities to interact with Iraqis were rare. Garett Reppenhagen considered himself lucky to have known a few Iraqi soldiers and police. Because he was a cavalry scout sniper, one of his assignments was to train his Iraqi counterparts in how to use various weapons. This gave him a chance to talk to locals and learn about their lives. As we talked years later over breakfast in a coffee shop in downtown Colorado Springs, Garett remembered, “I befriended a police officer named Maqbad, and then another guy named Ali, who were terrific people, and so I got a...

    • SIX Awakenings
      (pp. 118-134)

      Ricky Clousing got into a little trouble during one of his interrogations. Instead of controlling the situation, he began to let his prisoner ask the questions.

      “You’re supposed to direct the conversation, you’re not supposed to give up that control. This guy wasn’t just some broke, dumb Iraqi with a gun firing at people. He was somewhat of an idealist, which is why I looked at him differently and respected him more than some of the other guys that I talked to. He wasn’t just some punk that was wanting to kill Americans. Naturally, I was curious to get inside...


    • SEVEN Homecoming Traumas
      (pp. 137-161)

      Demond Mullins vividly remembered the last days and hours of his tour of Iraq, when he began to realize that the worst was over and that he was actually going to make it home, and in one piece. This definitely was not a moment he or any of his buddies took for granted. They may not have known the exact numbers—around the time we spoke with them, thirty-five thousand official casualties among their U.S. forces and twelve thousand dead and wounded private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan wars—but they knew what might have been.¹ They had all seen...

    • EIGHT Speaking Out
      (pp. 162-186)

      The path back to Seattle for Ricky Clousing was almost like a road to anywhere in Iraq during the war: traveling across the country at a frightening clip, his way scattered with unknown debris and the metaphoric threat of explosions by the wayside that could stop him dead in his tracks. Sensibly enough, Ricky described the decision to go AWOL as both sudden and not impulsive at all. His was a decision a long time in coming, no matter how impetuous it might appear to outsiders. This was the culmination of all Ricky had been living, Thinking, feeling, reading, and...

  8. Conclusion Six Soldiers
    (pp. 187-194)

    These six are at once ordinary and extraordinary.

    These six soldiers—or, more precisely, three soldiers, one sailor, one Marine, and one Guardsman—are ordinary American citizens. Like the United States today, they are of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, and political beliefs. We have heard that they grew up in close-knit families as well as troubled ones. They had loving parents and absent ones, lots of siblings and none. Like many in the country, their families did not have much wealth, so money for college was a big draw to the military for all these young...

  9. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 195-198)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 199-212)
  11. Glossary
    (pp. 213-214)