First U.S. Military Commissioned Officer to Refuse Deployment to Unlawful Iraq War
Wednesday June 7, 2006
First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada has informed his Army superiors at Ft. Lewis, Washington, that when his unit deploys to Iraq later this month he will refuse to participate in a war that he cannot justify or support legally and morally.
Lt. Watada, who will turn 28 this week, was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where he enlisted in the Army in 2003, following his graduation from Hawaii Pacific University. Lt. Watada reported for boot camp on June 18, 2003. From the date that he received his commission Lt. Watada was obligated to serve on active duty as an Army officer for a term of three years concluding on December 3, 2006.
Lt. Watada was stationed at Ft. Lewis in January 2006, when he first asked for permission to resign his commission because "I am whole-heartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." After his initial request and a second formal application to resign were denied by the Army, Lt. Watada informed his superiors that he will refuse to deploy with his unit when it is scheduled to leave Ft. Lewis for Iraq later this month.
By refusing to participate in the on-going war Lt. Watada joins a growing number of high ranking military officers, West Point graduates, and current and former members of the armed services who have expressed their opposition to the actions of the United States in Iraq.
Lt. Watada faces possible court-martial charges unless the Army allows him to resign his commission or assigns him to duties that are not directly connected to the Iraq war.
Lt. Watada is the son of Bob Watada of Hawaii Kai and Carolyn Ho of Kaneohe, both of whom support their son’s decision to refuse to serve in Iraq.
Today veterans, religious leaders, military families, students, faculty, peace and justice organizations and community members will announce a national public campaign of support for the Lieutenant.