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Soldiers tune out abuse scandal

Enough already, was the overwhelming sentiment among troops based at Fort Hood in central Texas when they are asked about the military prison scandal in Iraq. NBC News Jim Cummins reports from Fort Hood.
/ Source: NBC News

Enough already was the overwhelming sentiment among troops here Wednesday to the military prison scandal in Iraq and the court-martial of Spec. Jeremy Sivits.

No single military installation has sacrificed more for the war effort in Iraq than Fort Hood in central Texas.

It's the home of the Army's Fourth Infantry Division and the First Cavalry. To date, 45 troops from the 4th ID, 37 from the 1st Cavalry, and five troops from other units at Fort Hood have been killed in the conflict. Hundreds of others have been wounded.

The Fourth ID recently returned from the war zone where, among other successes, its forces captured the "Ace of Spades," Saddam Hussein himself.

The First Cavalry is currently deployed in Iraq. There are also a number of National Guard and Army Reserve units training at Fort Hood for the war effort.

Let's move on
The Army refused to allow to interview soldiers on the base and most approached off-base declined to discuss the scandal.

One soldier, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said however he believed the court martials were justified. "I believe that if they are gonna get court-martialed, then there's justification for that court martial," he said.

In addition to Sivits, at least six other members members of the military who served at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison face general court-martials.

John Van Note, who is a member of the 39th Infantry Brigade Army Reserve unit, complained about the extensive news coverage of the scandal.

“It needs to be shut down, they need to quit it now because all it’s doing is stirring up more trouble for us when we go," Van Note said.

"It's not something everybody wants to see or hear all the time," he added. "You get tired of hearing about the same thing over and over and over on TV. We're tired of hearing about the scandals of the abuse that's over and done with."

Sgt. Larry Best with the 4th ID agreed. "I think we should move on from it. We all know what happened already. Nothing good can come of it if (we) keep playing it over and over."

As for the conviction of Sivits, Best commented, “I think that he knows what he did was wrong. And I think everybody in his chain of command should get it also.”

Impact on morale
Most of the soldiers interviewed agreed that the scandals seem to be having an impact on morale.

That's an especially big concern among the soldiers who expect to be sent to the war zone soon.

Van Note noted, "It’s being taken care of [at the court martial]. It's time to just move on, start something new.”

Soldiers having breakfast at a local motel sent an inadvertent message about their sentiment regarding Sivits' court martial.

At the dramatic moment when networks reported the sentence, the the military men and women in the coffee shop were not watching the news.

Rather they had tuned into ESPN for sports scores and highlights instead.