Soldiers for the Truth Foundation

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Col. David H. Hackworth.

The Soldiers for the Truth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity organization in the United States dedicated to military reform. Its stated mission is to inform the public, Congress, and the media on issues related to the training, readiness, equipment and leadership of US armed forces.[1] The Foundation is registered as a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.[2] Notable issues in which the foundation has been involved include campaigning for better body armor for troops serving in Iraq and contributing to coverage of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Soldiers For The Truth claims a membership of 20,000[1] and publishes an online magazine called Defense Watch[3] criticising the country's military leadership using information provided by active servicemen and women.[4]

History and organization[edit]

Soldiers for the Truth grew out of the regular opinion pieces written by David H. Hackworth from the early 1990s on, originally titled "Defending America".[5] Though donations are solicited from readers, Col. Hackworth also used the profits from his own book sales to help fund the organization.[6] Weekly email newsletters were composed by a group of like-minded veterans, their friends and spouses, including R.W. Zimmermann, Bill Rogers, Kate Aspy, Barry "Woody" Groton, Ed "Edgar" Schneider, and Kyle Elliot.[citation needed] Later contributors included author and civilian security analyst Paul Purcell,[7] and Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a whistleblower who criticised the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans as "Orwellian".[8] Other authors included former Editor in Chief Ed Offley, Paul Connors, Matt Dodd and Roger Perry.

As of 2007, the foundation's board includes Hackworth's widow Eilhys England, Maj. John Falcon, US Army Retired and Lt. Col. Gary Stahlhut, US Army Reserve Retired.[1]

Activities[edit]

In October 2001, as the American military prepared for its campaign in Afghanistan, Col. Hackworth assessed the readiness level of most of the troops as follows: "I would be reluctant to jump into a battle zone with any conventional American unit. I would hate to take them into battle - they ain't ready, they are not 'good to go'." He was also critical of the 'elite' troops that were expected to lead the assault.[9] Hackworth has repeatedly stated that the American military is weakened by a combination of senior officers who are primarily concerned about their own careers above the welfare and training of their troops, and a culture of misdirected and wasteful expenditure.

In May 2004, the New York Times reported that Mr William Lawson, the uncle of an Army reservist serving as a prison guard in Iraq, contacted SFTT by email on 23 March to express his frustration that the guards would become scapegoats for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, when Lawson himself believed the abuses were "evidence of a complete breakdown in training and authority in the Iraqi prison system". Lawson wrote in his email: "We have contacted the Red Cross, Congress both parties, Bill O'Reilly and many others. Nobody wants to touch this." The staff at SFTT put Lawson in touch with researchers working for 60 Minutes II, which broadcast a documentary on the subject within five weeks.[10]

In May 2007, incoming SFTT president John Falcon stated that the Pentagon-approved "Interceptor" body armor, issued to US Marines serving in Iraq, did not provide adequate protection against armor-piercing bullets. Falcon said that according to a secret Pentagon report, 80% of marines killed due to torso wounds between 2003 and 2005 would have survived if they had been wearing adequate body armor. SFTT continues to campaign for soldiers to be issued with an allegedly tougher, more protective body armor called "Dragon Skin". Marines interviewed on the subject appreciated the group's campaign, saying, "Anytime you get better equipment to the Marines, soldiers and sailors, it would make us that more dominant so it would be a good thing." [11]

As of 2007, SFTT is preparing legal action to compel the Pentagon to acknowledge and assist Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the defoliant Agent Blue during the Vietnam War. The cause of Col. Hackworth's death was "a form of cancer now appearing with increasing frequency among Vietnam veterans exposed to the defoliants called Agents Orange and Blue".[12]

The current President of the Board, Frederick Tanne,[13] was instrumental in involving the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP in filing the final motion with the Federal Court in Washington, DC in the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) on behalf of the SFTT’s editor for forensic records held by the Department of Defense (“DOD”).[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c About Soldiers For The Truth
  2. ^ (ZIP compressed) IRS list of 501 (c) organizations
    IRS Search page
  3. ^ Defense Watch
  4. ^ Guardian obituary of D. H. Hackworth "Serving soldiers fed his website with information about the army's leadership shortcomings. Last February, he wrote, Most combat vets pick their fights carefully. They look at their scars, remember the madness and are always mindful of the fallout ... the White House and the Pentagon are run by civilians who have never sweated it out on a battlefield. "
  5. ^ A collection of Col. Hackworth's columns
  6. ^ Guardian article: America's 'elite' troops "On his return from Australia, he wrote About Face, a chronicle of his war experiences. It became a best-seller, as did three further books, the profits from the last two of which have been ploughed into Soldiers For The Truth, Hackworth's non-profit foundation."
  7. ^ About Paul Purcell
  8. ^ L.A. Weekly article on Lt. Col. Kwiatkowski
  9. ^ Guardian article: America's 'elite' troops "I hear a lot of rhetoric about the famous 10th Mountain Division. In World War II it was unquestionably America's finest unit - trained for three years, made up with men from Colorado, Montana, Idaho, really tough men, experts in mountain fighting. What we have now in the 10th Mountain Division is a bunch of kids that are better qualified to play computer games than they are to fight in that kind of terrain."
  10. ^ NY Times article
  11. ^ kiii TV - South Texas
  12. ^ Col. Hackworth's obituary page at the Arlington Cemetery website
  13. ^ Frederick Tanne, President of the Board
  14. ^ Soldiers for the Truth Campaigns