US Army Sergeant Kevin Benderman
The Army yesterday charged Sergeant Kevin Benderman with two counts of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), for his refusal to re-deploy to Iraq in a case that has sparked a worldwide media feeding-frenzy and elicited condemnation of both the Bush administration and the U.S. Army.
Benderman, 40, charged with violating articles 85 and 87 after refusing to re-deploy to Iraq appeared before his commanding officer today who formally read the charges filed against him. Benderman has filed for Conscientious Objector status with the Army. His former commanding officer, now deployed, had recommended denial of his CO application even before it was acted upon according to military regulations. Benderman says his new commanding officer is following Army regulations to the letter and has been helpful in processing his request.
The specification under article 85 charged Benderman with desertion and intent to avoid hazardous duty in connection with Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the specification under Article 87 charged him with missing the unit’s movement, or deployment to Kuwait (the staging area for military forces entering Iraq).
While realizing that his moral stand could result in a jail sentence, Benderman described his feelings today as ambivalent. “I am certainly not going to back down now, why would I do that? I am continuing to go forward with what I believe in and am going to demand a General Courts-Martial,” he said. This is the right of any serviceman or woman who holds the rank of Non-Commissioned Officer or above when faced with charges of this severity. The possible penalties handed down by this court however are the maximum allowed under the UCMJ, whereas other levels provide for less severe punishment upon conviction.
Benderman remains adamant about his views on war. “War is a worthless endeavor, why do we continue to pursue it? It is time for war to pass into the history books, just as human slavery and sacrifice did,” he said.
Now that the Army has defined his case, Benderman plans to go on leave in order to prepare his defense.
Army Public Affairs Officer Lt. Colonel Robert Whetstone stated when contacted for comment that he was aware that Sgt. Benderman had been charged, but did not know what he was charged with. Whetstone said he would be seeking that information from the Staff Judge Advocate.
Robert S. Finnegan, is Managing Editor of Southeast Asia News. He is an internationally published investigative reporter and former Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer. Working most recently as a Senior Editor and lead investigator on the Bali Bombings for The Jakarta Post, he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright release granted for further publication at additional news outlets.
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