Three former American soldiers who served in Iraq are going public about the realities of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they claim routine acts of excessive violence upon local citizens stem from the U.S. chain of command. Former Army Specialists Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord say that they thought they were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and advance freedom and democracy. Instead, the reality they found was quite different. They were ordered by their command to carry out indiscriminate violence on Iraqi citizens. In one example, soldiers were ordered to fire indiscriminantly after IED attacks. "When one [IED] went off, you were supposed to fire on anybody," says Stieber. Once, when an IED exploded near a crowd of teenagers, Stieber refused to fire. He was intimidated and reprimanded by his commanding officers for refusing orders to shoot. Corcoles describes times that he purposely aimed his gun away from people, to avoid shooting innocent citizens. Corcoles and McCord were on the ground during the incident where two U.S. Apache helicopters opened fire at people on the ground, killing, among others, two Reuters news photographers. After the attack, McCord found two wounded Iraqi children in a bullet-riddled van and pulled them to safety. McCord's commanding officer threatened and mocked him for pulling the children from the van. His platoon leader yelled at him and told him he needed to quit worrying about these "'motherf**king kids' and pull security." The soldiers claim acts of excessive violence were woven into their daily missions. The three soldiers have decided to go public about their experiences.
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