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Author Topic: Aboriginals Have no Problem Serving in Iraq
Jay Williams
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posted 28 December 2005 05:42 PM      Profile for Jay Williams        Edit/Delete Post
December 23, 2005 MacLeans
Native warriors to Iraq: Why are Canadian Aboriginals joining the
American army and serving the war on terror?

COLIN CAMPBELL

Aaron Ledoux is a paratrooper with the U.S. army's 173rd Airborne
Brigade in Afghanistan. Ledoux, who has also served in Iraq, describes
his company with typical army bravado as "the toughest and hardest
pipe-swinging brothers to ever hit the ground in Afghanistan." Ledoux,
33, is also an Aboriginal Canadian, from the Muskeg Lake reserve in
Saskatchewan. He wanted to join the war in Iraq and chose the U.S.
military, he says, "seeing that Canada
was not part of the fight." Another native from Canada, Scott Crichton,
is a sergeant with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, now in Iraq's
al-Anbar province. He joined the military when he saw a U.S. army
recruiting fax in the band office at the Alexander reserve north of
Edmonton. He'd already served in the Canadian Forces and was looking
for a new experience. Crichton, 31, has now done two tours in Iraq,
including about eight months in the perilous city of Falluja, where he
says he learned to cuss a lot and not dwell on the danger. Crichton and
Ledoux are just a few of the close to 200 Canadians, many of Aboriginal
descent, serving in the U.S. war on terror. In the past year alone,
close to 50 Canadians have joined the U.S. army, and the vast majority
are natives. Some are drawn by adventure, others by the prospect of a
signing bonus (as much as US$20,000) or job training. Still others are
following the long, proud tradition of Aboriginals serving in both
military services. Natives in Canada have long been eligible to join
the American forces because the U.S. considers natives dual citizens
(other non-citizens can join, but only if they're living in the United
States with a green card). Because Aboriginals are the only Canadian
community whose members can join either the U.S. or Canadian military,
their recruitment south of the border is somewhat controversial. The
U.S. needs troops to maintain a costly war in Iraq, while Canada wants
to add 8,000 troops to its forces over the next five years. Two years
ago, the U.S. set off a minor diplomatic row when recruiters were
spotted working among natives in several provinces. Native groups speak
openly of having welcomed recruiters to their communities. But U.S.
army spokesman Douglas Smith maintains the incidents were likely a
"couple of young soldiers who went home and were speaking positively
about their experience. U.S. army recruiters are not allowed to come
into Canada, and it's something we enforce." Informal recruiting still
takes place -- through brochures, word of mouth or commercials on U.S.
channels. In 2003, the Assembly of First Nations passed a motion
recognizing the right of the U.S. military to recruit on First Nations
territory. "We didn't like it when the Canadian government told the
Americans, 'Stay off our reserves and leave our Indians alone,' "says
Chief Tom Bressette, who led the motion and himself served with the
U.S. military, as did his father, brother and numerous other relatives
from the Kettle and
Stony Point First Nation in southern Ontario. "We don't belong to
them." Harry Lafond, director of education at Muskeg Lake reserve, and
one of Ledoux's former teachers, says about one in five students in his
classes will seriously consider a stint in the military. Though joining
the Canadian Forces (which employ about 1,800 natives) is more common,
he says, "Indian tribes have had representation in the American
military that goes back to
the time of the War of 1812." Part of the military attraction, whether
in Canada or the U.S., is that it offers escape from the social ills of
reserve or inner-city life, says Melvin Swan, a former military
policeman who for the past 14 years has been working in Winnipeg on the
Canadian Forces program Bold Eagle, which combines cultural and
military training for native
youth. Swan, who is Aboriginal, also informally helps the U.S. Marines
on occasion, handing out brochures and speaking on native radio. "A lot
of them look at the Canadian military as kind of a Mickey Mouse outfit.
They look at the Marine Corps as a more serious challenge. They want to
be jarheads."


From: Toronto | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boarsbreath
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posted 28 December 2005 05:51 PM      Profile for Boarsbreath   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Maybe it's partly to get away from "social ills", especially these days. But it's a long tradition. I knew guys, families really, in Kahnawake (across the river from Montreal; Mohawk) for whom the Marines were the next-best to high steel construction work -- which was the top job. Danger, prestige, tradition...Once were warriors, quoi.
From: South Seas, ex Montreal | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 28 December 2005 05:58 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I know of two Canadian aboriginals who joined the US Army for the pay, education, and benefits, but who returned to Canada rather than fight in Iraq.

They did have a problem serving in Iraq, and they know they can't be extradited from here.

So the thread title is inaccurate.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jay Williams
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posted 28 December 2005 06:24 PM      Profile for Jay Williams        Edit/Delete Post
The thread title is accurate. Aboriginals have no problems, i.e. no obstacles, that prevents them from serving in Iraq. There may be some individuals with moral issues, but there's nothing structural standing in their way.
From: Toronto | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 28 December 2005 06:51 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The thread title is ambiguous, therefore inaccurate.

It could say "Aboriginals can serve in Iraq" and become clearer.

In any case, it's no secret that Canadian Aboriginals are allowed to join the US military.


From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 28 December 2005 08:08 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
there's nothing structural standing in their way.

ANYONE can serve in the US military. I personally know Czech citizens, Rwandan citizens, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, and Brazilians.

They'll take anyone with a high school diploma, and even that is negotiable these days.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
RUredE
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posted 28 December 2005 08:19 PM      Profile for RUredE        Edit/Delete Post
There were about 35,000 Canadians in the U.S. forces during Vietmnam. The numbers vary but about 15,000 served in Vietnam.

(during both world Wars there were thousands of Americans in Canadian uniform until the USA entered the wars)


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jeff house
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posted 28 December 2005 09:39 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think your figure is high. Since you provide no link, I offer this:

quote:
Colonel Shields said the Defense Department had no figures because the records of soldiers who served in Vietnam had been retired."
"Roderick Engert, chief of the reference branch of the Center of Military History of the Pentagon, said the number might be only 2,500 to 3,000. He extrapolates his figures from the casualty ratio in the war, in which 2.7 million Americans served and 58,000 died. A Canadian Government official said he doubted that more than 5,000 Canadians had served in Vietnam."
- Christopher S. Wren, "Vietnam War Also Haunts Canadian Volunteers", The New York Times, Jan. 24, 1985

http://www.mystae.com/reflections/vietnam/canada.html


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Fidel
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posted 28 December 2005 10:29 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And the VA Dept. says there are at least 250 000 homeless American veterans of various wars. An estimated 70 000 of them are Vietnam vets.

And to think that Dubya made cuts all veterans benefits. I guess he believes that if he didn't receive anything after deserting fellow American's who had the balls to go to Viet Nam, then why should anyone else be rewarded for their patriotism ?. Nice stuff.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 28 December 2005 11:11 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The phrase "Employer of last resort" comes to mind.

(rhetorical question) How bad does it have to be in Canada's reserves for people living on them to feel driven to join the US armed forces to get a shot at a better life? (/rhetorical question)


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Makwa
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posted 29 December 2005 12:12 AM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:
How bad does it have to be in Canada's reserves for people living on them to feel driven to join the US armed forces to get a shot at a better life?
This is kind of a tricky point. I know many FN people who have left the rez to join the forces, including my mom and aunt back in the day. This is kind of a tradition, it seems. Part of the warrior ideal. Moreover, the distinction between US and Canada are not particularly significant to most FN folks I know. We kind of consider ourselves to be automatically citizens of both countries, IMHO. Perhaps other FN folks could weigh in, but this seems to be the attitude of many of my relatives.

From: Here at the glass - all the usual problems, the habitual farce | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
retread
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posted 29 December 2005 12:19 AM      Profile for retread     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Most of my friends prefer Canada, but that's partly because that's where our lands lie. Going back and forth between Canada and the US for work isn't a big deal (done it myself), and the racism isn't any worse there than it is here. The whole continent was ours once, guess we feel it still should be, so a boundary drawn by Europeans doesn't have as much significance as some might expect.

As for the military, well there's a kind of pride in being a warrior. If nothing else, the military has a reputation of being less prejudiced than society as a whole.


From: flatlands | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 29 December 2005 12:53 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Things are getting out of hand. Why is this thread in the Middle East forum? It's about Canadian aboriginals serving in the US military, possibly in Iraq. What's "middle east" about that?
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 29 December 2005 07:30 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Munroe considered joining the Canadian Army, but the U.S. offered him a $20,000 signing bonus and another perk...

"They gave me $28,800 to continue my education after I get out of the army. When I'm in the army, they will be paying for whatever kind of schooling I desire," he says.

Duncan Bird says their are more opportunities in the U.S. Army.

"I wanted to use more high-tech equipment and I wanted to be trained better in a high-speed enviroment. Not saying that Canada isn't high speed, they're just a little behind the times when it comes to military warfare," says Bird.


link

So let's get this straight, our two weak and ineffective right-wing parties in Canada(and US) don't mind if college tuition fees skyrocket to some of the highest levels in the world while we go short of doctors and professionals of all kinds across this frozen Puerto Rico, but the Yanks can pull out all the stops when offering what amounts to modern day press ganging FN people and others into serving the interests of imperial wars of aggression on behalf of big business ?.

Arrrrrr, shine those shoes and swab that deck or y'll be keel hauled and made to walk the plank back into this scary, low wage, high cost North American economy, matey!.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jingles
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posted 29 December 2005 09:20 PM      Profile for Jingles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This just baffles me. Why would a FN person want to join any army of white supremecy? The US Army's prinicple mission after the civil war was to exterminate the natives. And the Marines especially are behind some of the worst atrocities against dark-skinned people around the world. They continue that noble tradition today by raping Iraq and Afganistan.

Are they aware of the deep institutional racism in these organizations, or do they not care?


From: At the Delta of the Alpha and the Omega | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
fast_twitch_neurons
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posted 29 December 2005 09:31 PM      Profile for fast_twitch_neurons     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Jingles wrote:

quote:
This just baffles me. Why would a FN person want to join any army of white supremecy? The US Army's prinicple mission after the civil war was to exterminate the natives. And the Marines especially are behind some of the worst atrocities against dark-skinned people around the world. They continue that noble tradition today by raping Iraq and Afganistan.
Are they aware of the deep institutional racism in these organizations, or do they not care?

Are you stuck in an ivory tower or something? Clearly, not everyone would see things the same exact way you do. Perhaps you were not aware, but there is a broad spectrum of opinion and perspective on the US military throughout the world, rather than just a single opinion. And as such, many people hold perspectives different from your own, believe it or not, this is regardless, of the fact you might actually be right!

To answer your question, judging by the small number of military people I've met in my life, they tend to be attracted by the opportunities, the noble notion of service, and the adventure. I have however heard one individual tell me it was about the money.

Sorry if I was rude, but your post reeked of ideological condescension.


From: Montreal | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 29 December 2005 11:14 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Face it, Canadian's and American's join the military because the private sector economy is the shits. People need economic stability, free access to higher education, job training, dental and medical and child care benefits for their families that thousands of other civil service workers work for. The two old line parties have been cutting job opprtunities, EI benefits and job training from Canadian workers but fully believe in socialism when it comes to military and not allowing market fundamentalism to govern something that really matters to them. While many of our military people are engineers, doctors and scientists, there are too many people choosing the military because of a lack of regular, full-time payroll jobs in Canada and the U.S. The US and Canada, one-two, own the largest number of low wage, low skilled private sector jobs as a percentage of total employment when comparing richest nations.
From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 29 December 2005 11:58 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Aside: the military in the US is one of the most socialist institutions in that country. As far as I know every recruit and every officer gets the same wage for their particular classification, they all get military base housing, the government covers relocation expenses as well as room and board for soldiers and their families, et cetera and so on.

The US military is, ironically, one of the great social equalizers for black people. To my knowledge the US armed forces is effectively fully integrated and best approximates the color-blind ideal that Americans fantasize exists in their country in the civilian sector.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 31 December 2005 01:11 AM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yes Doc. And it seems to be a closed economy all on its own. The US military never seems to run out of money, and annual budgets always increase no matter which party's in power. And, Canadian exports of weapons parts and pieces to the Pentagon are never accounted for in our export figures.

Our own military is becoming an attraction for 40 and 50 something year old Canadian's. On Canada's DoD web site, a single Canadian woman in her late 30's describes sporadic employment after graduating from a three year community college program in chemical engineering. Fed up with the lack of full time employment and instability that comes with contract work and bit and bobbing it in this frozen Puerto Rico, she joined the Canadian military. Now she's got daycare for her child, dental and medical coverage and steady income.

And during the second world war, the US aircraft industry combined engineering talent in re-designing and refurbishing fighter planes and bombers. It was an industrial first as Boeing, Douglas and more engineers on loan to the federal effort produced the most manouverable, high performance aircraft for delivery to British and American pilots during the war. The competitive nature of capitalism takes a back seat when it really counts ie. NASA and more examples come to mind.


From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Makwa
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posted 31 December 2005 01:41 AM      Profile for Makwa   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Jingles:
This just baffles me. Why would a FN person want to join any army of white supremecy?
I can't say much about the US military, but FN people I have known who have joined the forces in Canada already live in a society informed by white supremacist history and culture. Joining the military doesn't make it worse, in fact, given the comradery one usually finds in military service, it can be better. I've worked in civil service for most of my adult life, and have always been the only FN person in the office, and am usually very isolated socially.

From: Here at the glass - all the usual problems, the habitual farce | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
voice of the damned
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posted 31 December 2005 04:23 AM      Profile for voice of the damned     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Jingles:
This just baffles me. Why would a FN person want to join any army of white supremecy?

Jingles:

The official title of the US military isn't The Army Of White Supremacy. And when you go through basic training, I doubt they teach you that the point of your military career is to promote White Supremacy("freedom and democracy" are probably the preferred slogans). And between 1989 and 1993, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff was headed by an African-American. That's one more POC than has ever served as President of our own beloved CBC.

Now, yes, given the nature of US imperialism, the US army probably ends up playing a pivotal role in the maintenance of de facto white supremacy. But your average FN person probably doesn't get too deep into that analysis, just like your average working class recruit(of any cultural background) probably isn't sitting around worrying about how the military contributes to upholding the class sysytem that keeps him in poverty.

Of course, it might be a good thing if the FN recruit and the working-class guy were to engage in more in-depth analysis about the military. For that matter, it would probably be a good thing if about 80% of the North American population were to engage in more critical analysis of our dominant institutions. They don't, and that's too bad, but I really don't see why the case of FN people should be so especially baffling.

[ 31 December 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]


From: Asia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
retread
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posted 31 December 2005 10:25 AM      Profile for retread     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Makaw wrote:
quote:
I can't say much about the US military, but FN people I have known who have joined the forces in Canada already live in a society informed by white supremacist history and culture. Joining the military doesn't make it worse, in fact, given the comradery one usually finds in military service, it can be better. I've worked in civil service for most of my adult life, and have always been the only FN person in the office, and am usually very isolated socially.

Exactly. From what a few guys from the reserve who went the military route say, there's less prejudice in it than society in general (sort of like sports). Like Fidel and DrConway point out, it tends to have its own economics and is even fairly socialist internally - if you're poor and have no where else to go in a basically racist society, it isn't a bad choice.


From: flatlands | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
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posted 31 December 2005 01:28 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There is a tradition of respect for being a soldier. Here's a review of a book about Prairie Indians in WWI.

Also, I think FN soldiers in WWII did find more equal treatment among soldiers than on the reserves. Returned soldiers were active in the FN political organizations that grew up after the war.


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged

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