Iraq War Veteran Presents ‘A True Picture of Iraq’
U.S. unaware of realities of Iraq war, vet says
Critical of the U.S. media and Bush administration, a veteran of the war in Iraq spoke Thursday night about the realities of the conflict, saying that U.S. soldiers there were ill-equipped, poorly trained and largely unsupportive of the war.
Specialist E-4 Patrick Resta, who served as an Army medic in Iraq for eight months before returning to the United States in November, spoke before an audience of about 80 Brown students and local community members in Salomon 001.
Resta criticized the poor coverage of the Iraqi war by the U.S. media and said the goal of his speech and accompanying slide show was to show what it was really like in Iraq.
“One of the most important things veterans can do, like myself, is come out here and present a true picture of Iraq, because the American media isn’t letting people have that true picture,” he said.
Resta pointed out how poorly equipped U.S. soldiers were in Iraq. He said that of the 1,000 vehicles his brigade brought into Iraq, only about 10 to 15 percent of them were armored. In addition, of the vehicles that were armored, many of them had only a half-inch sheet of plywood or sandbags as protection.
“If you look at this fuel truck,” Resta said, referring to a vehicle in a photograph, “what you see are three sandbags. That’s the armor on that vehicle.”
Resta said many troops, including him, took out loans to buy their own personal armor, which they either wore or used as protection in their vehicles. He said he was never trained to use the rifle he was issued and his gas mask did not fit properly.
Resta said he also wanted to dispel the notion that Iraqis were content with the U.S. presence in their country.
“First, (Iraqis) would say, they were glad that Saddam (Hussein) was gone,” he said. “But they would always follow that up with, ‘At least under him, we had security.’ “
Resta also dismissed the idea that most of the troops in Iraq were satisfied with their situation, citing a poll in a military magazine that found that about 60 percent of soldiers in Iraq did not approve of the war. He also said soldiers were open about their disapproval of the war, and many wanted to leave.
“There was a running joke that IRAQ stood for ‘I really am quitting,’ ” he said.
Resta said he was upset at the apathy many people felt toward the war. He said Iraq was a potential Vietnam, but attributed the difference in the protests between the Iraqi war and Vietnam War to the absence of the military draft.
“The reason that this is being forgotten is because there’s no draft, and there’s no one protesting it because it’s not affecting them,” he said. “It’s sad.”
But Resta said he thinks the reinstatement of the draft is just around the corner.
Derek Seidman GS, who brought Resta to Brown with the help of student groups Common Ground and the Brown Muslim Student Association, said he was pleased with Resta’s speech.
“I just thought it was really important for Brown students to hear a solider who went over there and (about) what compelled him to speak out against the war,” Seidman said. “He has really important stuff to say.”
Audience members also said they found Resta’s presentation important. Some called the media’s representation of the war in Iraq alarming.
“I think that it’s a disgrace that our media does not portray everything in Iraq,” Liza Littenberg-Brown ’08 said.
“It’s just unfathomable that what’s going on in Iraq is this far off the mark,” added Leah Segal ’08.