The Los Angeles Times highlights what some National Guard members call shortcomings in training and equipment before being sent to assignment in Iraq.
Far from being peaceniks, they had complaints such as these:
"I'm a cop. I've got a career, a house, a family, a college degree," said one sergeant, who lives in Southern California and spoke, like most of the soldiers, on condition of anonymity.
"I came back to the National Guard specifically to go to Baghdad, because I believed in it, believed in the mission. But I have regretted every day of it. This is demoralizing, demeaning, degrading. And we're supposed to be ambassadors to another country? We're supposed to go to war like this?"
And when faced with the prospect of death on foreign soil, some of them are willing to put their status on the line, as well.
The soldiers also said they were risking courts-martial or other punishment by speaking publicly about their situation. But Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Dominguez, 45, one of the soldiers who allowed his identity to be revealed, said he feared that if nothing changed, men in his platoon would be killed in Iraq.
Dominguez is a father of two — including a 13-month-old son named Reagan, after the former president — and an employee of a mortgage bank in Alta Loma, Calif. A senior squad leader of his platoon, Dominguez said he had been in the National Guard for 20 years.
"Some of us are going to die there, and some of us are going to die unnecessarily because of the lack of training," he said. "So I don't care. Let them court-martial me. I want the American public to know what is going on. My men are guilty of one thing: volunteering to serve their country. And we are at the end of our rope."