Deserter or Objector?
The crux of the matter is that 23-yr old Kyle Snyder decided to flee the Union while on military leave in 2005 choosing the country north of our border whose flag bears the red maple leaf. (He didn't want to be redeployed to Mesopotamia.) In Kyle's words,
" I don't see a lot of positive things coming from this war...
I see it as a counterproductive mission."
Hmm...sounds like a perfect Associated Press sound bite, doesn't it? Could it be that this young man spent more time observing the media's perception of his duties rather than taking stock in his work while serving with a Combat Engineering outfit? Being only 23, it's certainly possible.
Admittedly, I never served in any of the Armed Forces. Some days that makes me sad as I have an unwavering attitude of respect for all who wear the uniform- who consciously and willingly sign up for this duty. But, I remain thankful that I didn't serve in uniform during a time of war- a bit of logic that kept me from signing up with the Reserves the Summer before my freshman year of College. As it turned out, one of my classmates was called up and served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. (It could have been me.)
I have another friend who started out in boot camp in the late 80's and was selected for Special Forces training. This guy was not only physically stout, he was intellectually astute. It wasn't long before he made his way up the chain and earned his bars. Sometime during his training, he decided that the "careless, warlike attitudes" of his comrades bothered him. He applied for concientious objector status and several months later was discharged from the Army Rangers. His superiors noting that this wasn't someone who was scared, he had wholeheartedly had a change of heart and therefore, was not suited for combat operations as he was trained to do. Too many people, both in and outside his unit, could die as a result of his hesitation in the field.
Fortunately for him and his superiors- someone recognized this in him and did the right thing by pulling him out before something went wrong.
It would be unfair for me to point a finger at Mr. Snyder and call him a traitor or a deserter based solely on this sparse article penned by the AP. (Afterall, we all know how accurate and unbiased many of those reporters are!) We have only one side of (t)his story. But I'm curious why Mr. Snyder didn't apply for objector status once home from his first tour if he was worried about getting called up again? His statement that he "wasn't trained for combat patrol" is either a misquote, or he simply forgot about those 8 weeks of boot camp. Every recruit, regardless of what outfit they serve in, has had some measure of patrol experience as far as I can gleen from my buddies who have served in uniform. To say he wasn't trained, is not accurate. To say he wasn't prepared, or- he wasn't able to perform that duty due to fear, is probably more accurate. And truthfully, who could blame him? Patrols in urban environments are far more difficult than open field training excercises where combatants are spotted in "clicks" rather than mere feet.
No, I think it's a shame that there are those who don't accurately and methodically weigh one's decisions prior to striking out in a given direction within our military circles. Certainly, circumstances play a part in the decision process, but one must also carry the thought processes past the point of merely signing the recruiting papers. You are being trained to defend, to combat enemies seen and unseen, and yes, sometimes to kill said combatants. The decision to follow through with your duty, your superior's orders, should be considered before you put that uniform on. Like any other job in this world, sometimes you are asked to do something you don't particularly care for, but that doesn't mean you turn your back on your country. You get in there and do it- you signed up for it. You took an oath to defend your country. Your uniform demands that of you. Your unit depends on you. Your buddy's life depends on you standing firm with your back to his/hers. Your country trained you to protect her citizens and the innocent and you- you went to Canada?
Hats off to all our military men and women who stand in the breach, day after day, protecting this fine country in defense of liberty so that we at home can wave a new, unsoiled flag and erroneously call it "freedom".