2004 Baghdad refusal of orders

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On October 13, 2004,[1] American Army reservists participating in the Iraq War refused an order to drive a convoy of fuel tankers lacking armour plates through Baghdad, leading to claims of "mutiny"[2] amongst the soldiers who claimed to be balking at a "suicide mission" that would have seen them enter hostile territory without a combat escort, in damaged trucks without armor plating.[1][3]

The soldiers involved consistently said that the reason for their refusing the mission was because the fuel was contaminated. The Army attempted to hide this side of the story and claimed the soldiers refused due to unsafe vehicles. The soldiers refused the mission because they felt they had an obligation to not provide bad fuel to an aviation fuel point. The thought of a helicopter crashing and potentially killing their fellow soldiers was not something they were willing to do even though they were ordered to do so. When clean fuel was provided, the same soldiers completed the mission in question.[citation needed]

The 343rd Quartermaster Company, based in Rock Hill, South Carolina had earlier been forced to turn back from an abortive 3.5 day journey to another army base which had refused their load of contaminated fuel.[3]

Returning to Tallil Air Base, the same company was ordered to take their cargo to Taji, north of Baghdad. The journey would be through dangerous terrain known for ambushes by Iraqi insurgents and would be made without the usual infantry and helicopter escort.[3]


While 19 soldiers refused the order,[2] only 18 were placed under investigation.[3] In the end, the army decided not to pursue a court-martial against the soldiers, but rather to seek non-judicial punishments against five of them.[1] Five soldiers were reassigned to different units.[4]

The Army ordered the 120-troop company put on stand down, and taken off active duty while their vehicles were repaired and upgraded with steel armor plates.[3] They returned to active status on November 11.[1]

On October 21, the Army announced that they had replaced the commander of the unit at her own request.[5] The first sergeant was also replaced as a result of the action.[1]

Upon returning to the United States, the company was largely lauded as "heroes" for facing potential courts-martial by refusing an order which they believed would lead their companions to be killed.[6]

The 737th transportation Company, based at Camp Cedar II near Tallil Air Base, were ordered to pick up the mission, to transport the critically needed fuel to Taji. Though the 737th TC only had civilian tractors and 8,000 gallon tankers with no armor protection, the mission was a success and all soldiers returned to Camp Cedar II. The fuel transported was drawn from the same fuel source the 343rd used. None of the 737th TC soldiers received any type of award for the mission. When asked, one soldier stated "It was our job".


  1. ^ a b c d e CNN, GIs who refused fuel run won't face court-martial, December 5, 2004
  2. ^ a b Cogan, James. World Socialist Web Site, US soldiers mutiny over “suicide mission” in Iraq, October 18, 2004
  3. ^ a b c d e Fox News, Army Reserve Commander Relieved of Duty, October 21, 2004
  4. ^ Hudson, Jeremy. Clarion Ledger. "Actions initiated in order refusal"
  5. ^ American Forces Press Service, Quartermaster Company Commander Relieved of Duties, October 21, 2004
  6. ^ WSOCTV, Army Reserve Company With Courage Returns Home, February 25, 2005