So far U.S. officials in Iraq are steering clear of the M word, referring instead to a platoon's refusal to take part in a supply convoy as "a temporary breakdown in discipline." Some of the 19 reservists who declined to obey orders to transport fuel through frequently ambushed territory on Wednesday phoned their parents and begged them to tell members of Congress that this was a "suicide mission" because of the miserable condition of their unarmored vehicles. "Mom, I need you to raise pure hell," Specialist Amber McClenny said in a message on her family's answering machine in Dothan, Ala. Six of their trucks were scheduled to be removed from service because they were so outdated, and none could go faster than 40 m.p.h., according to Sergeant Larry McCook, who phoned his wife in Jackson, Miss. Specialist Major Coates told his father in Charlotte, N.C., that the platoon had been sent out earlier that day in a 40year-old truck that broke down before it even left the base.
The military's initial report on the incident stated that the soldiers "raised some valid concerns" about the convoy mission. The commanding general ordered an inspection of the vehicles as well as an investigation to determine whether any of the soldiers violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Meanwhile, a coalition-forces spokesman denied families' claims that the reservists were being detained. Says Lieut. Colonel Steven Boylan: "Things are getting a little out of control and have been exaggerated a little bit." --By Julie Rawe. With reporting by Christopher Allbritton, Alice Jackson Baughn and Constance E. Richards