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US soldier Brittany DeBarros protesting the Army and the US government

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US soldiers poppy field afghanistan
US
soldiers in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.


ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr


Brittany DeBarros is waging the kind of vehement public protest
via Twitter against the Defense Department and US government
that’s commonplace in the Trump-era — except that DeBarros
is a captain in the US Army Reserve assigned to the Army’s
Psychological Operations Command.

According to DeBarros’ Twitter account, she has
been called up on two-week assignment since July 14, but each day
since then DeBarros has posted tweets criticizing “the horror
being carried out by our war machine for profit,” with the Army
moving to investigate the officer’s remarks.

The “Dept. of ‘Defense’ is the largest oil consumer
worldwide,” DeBarros notes in one tweet. “The violence unleashed
directly is horrific, but it also has massive spillover
impacts.”

“Defense corporations made contributions to 496 of 525 Congress
members in 2018,” DeBarros said in her most recent tweet, posted
on July 20, the seventh day of her assignment. Defense
contractors are prolific political donors,
though many of their contributions come from their
political-action committees, owners, employees, or employees’
immediate families.

DeBarros, however, has stopped short of directly criticizing
President Trump during her July protest; using “contemptuous
words” against the president is a violation of military
law. 

DeBarros detailed her criticism of US foreign policy and its
impact at home in a June 23 speech in
Washington, DC, at a Poor People’s Campaign rally.

During the speech, DeBarros said she was a combat veteran who
identified as a woman, Latina, white, black, and queer, and that
as a person “existing at the intersection of these identities, I
carry a grave conviction in my core that there can be no true
economic, racial, gender liberation without addressing the
militarism that is strangling the morality and empathy out of our
society.”

“For decades, we have been lulled into complacency and
inattention as our drones have obliterated weddings, funerals,
religious ceremonies, ordinary homes, and ordinary people,”
DeBarros said.

“We begrudge the poor for the pennies we give them to eat and
survive but cheer for the nearly $600 billion annually we spend
on defense. The military industrial complex is literally
corporate greed weaponized,” DeBarros added. “From the
militarized equipment in which our police forces and federal
agencies are clad, to the large percent of current and former
soldiers conditioned for war and then hired to occupy our streets
to keep peace, is it any wonder that our neighborhoods are
treated like combat zones, and our neighbors treated like
combatants?”

DeBarros’ protest has gained the attention of the Army, which
confirmed her assignment to Army Times and said it was looking
into her statements.

Officials at US Army Civil Affairs and Psychological
Operations Command “are aware of the situation surrounding Cpt.
Brittany DeBarros,” Army spokesman Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Crofoot
told Army Times on Friday. “To
maintain the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are
unable to comment at this time.”

Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers are permitted to
make political statements in public while they have civilian
status but doing so is not allowed while they are
on active orders. DeBarros did not reply to Facebook messages
sent by Army Times, nor did she respond to a Twitter message sent
by Business Insider on Monday.

DeBarros’ June speech came just a few days after the Army’s
10th Mountain Division accepted the resignation of
2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone.

Rapone — an Afghanistan combat veteran and a 2016 West
Point graduate — posted pictures of himself at his West Point
graduation in a T-shirt with Che Guevara’s face and with a sign
reading, “Communism will win,” inside his hat.


2nd Lt. Spenser RaponeScreenshot/Twitter

Rapone, who says he retains an honorable discharge from his
enlisted service, posted the photos in September
2017
, telling the Associated Press he did so in solidarity with Colin
Kaepernick.

The photos provoked backlash, including a call for an
investigation by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, which prompted West Point to
say Rapone’s actions “in no way reflect the values” of West Point
or the Army.

Rapone enlisted in the Army after high school and served as
a Ranger in Afghanistan but became disillusioned with the
military soon after joining, he said in June on an episode of
What a Hell of a Way to Die, a
left-wing podcast hosted by two combat veterans.

“By the time I deployed, I encountered most people who had no
real interest in why we were fighting and [were] more so
interested in just the next time they could go out and kill brown
people and just [terrorize] the Afghan population,” Rapone said.

“To this day, we had this nebulous idea of going after the
Haqqani network, and I’m sure they’re not great dudes, but it’s
like, are they really threatening the United States of America?”
Rapone said. “And isn’t it the United States that caused
Afghanistan to turn into [a] hellscape?”

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