Why NATO soldiers are suing commanders

Why NATO soldiers are suing commanders

Andrey Kots

It seems that nature itself is against NA-TO’s eastward expansion. Recently, a British soldier filed a lawsuit ag-ainst the Ministry of De-fense: on a business trip to Estonia, he developed hypothermia and began to stutter. NATO soldiers often sue their commanders – and sometimes on ve-ry unusual grounds. Some of these cases – in the material of RIA Novosti.
Cold War
Former Royal Engineers, 27-year-old Chileshe Mwamba from British Derby clearly did not expect how the “containment of Russian aggression” would end for him. In November 2017, as part of the CABRIT operation, he went to Estonia for three weeks to a military base near the town of Tapa, 150 kilometers from the border with Russia. A British battalion is stationed here on a rotational basis. Royal engineers had to assess the potential theater of war and repair armored vehicles. However, for Mwamba, the trip turned into a sheer nightmare.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, he complained that the severe Estonian cold had seriously damaged his health. After hypothermia, post-traumatic syndrome developed. A long-standing problem has returned – as a child, Mwamba stuttered. Over the years, this has passed, and now again the British of African descent cannot speak coherently and understandably to those around him.
According to archival weather reports, in Estonia, when Mwamba was there, the temperature did not drop below minus four degrees Celsius. It’s scary to imagine what would have happened to him in a 20-degree frost. However, the former soldier is not up to jokes. Through the High Court of London, he dema-nds compensation from the Ministry of Defense – 860 thousand pounds (about 1.1 million dollars).
In 2018, a similar claim was filed by another British military, also of African descent. According to him, the command did not provide him with a warm winter uniform. In addition, I had to live in a poorly heated room. And in 2016, a native of Ghana was suing the Ministry of Defense – he did not have enough hot food and drinks during the exercises. However, both claims were dismissed by the judge.
Three years ago, during the November exercises of the alliance in Norway, soldiers from the Netherlands and Slovenia ended up at the training ground almost in summer uniforms, altho-ugh the thermometer show-ed a deep minus. However, they quickly got a winter uniform. The maneuvers went according to plan and there were no lawsuits.
Coronavirus and hijabs
Unlike European NATO allies, the American military is not intimidated by the cold weather. But they regularly sue the Pentagon for other reasons. Although most of the claims from the Russian point of view look, to put it mildly, strange.
For example, in October 2021, representatives of all five branches of the US Armed Forces (including the elite – “navy seals” and “green berets”) filed a class action lawsuit against the Joe Biden administration. Twenty-four plaintiffs strongly opposed the policy of compulsory vaccination of military personnel against the coronavirus, as abortion is contrary to their religious beliefs. The fact is that three vaccines available in the United States are developed using fetal stem cells from human embryos. And injecting such a drug, in the opinion of the devout military, is a grave sin.
I must say that the issue of faith in the American army is quite acute – the religious preferences of the soldiers do not always fit into the provisions of the charter. And this document clearly prescribes: servicemen should look uniform.
Nevertheless, in April 2019, Sergeant Cecilia Va-ldovinos filed a lawsuit ag-ainst the command because of the attitude of colleagues to the hijab. The girl converted to Islam in 2016 and included this headdress in her everyday wardrobe.
She was sent to Afghanistan. Co-workers there openly sneered at her: they called her “igilovka”, “ninja”, “girl in the hood”, “terrorist”. Cecilia’s cup of patience was overwhelmed by the demand of the immediate commander to take off the hijab at the morning check.
The authorities, however, said that the complaint was unfounded, since the officer only wanted to make sure if the sergeant had removed her hair according to the regulations.
War of the sexes
A considerable headache for Pentagon lawyers is gi-ven by the mixed principle of manning the army, when men and women serve in the same unit. The result is thousands of reports of sexual harassment and rape a year. For Washington, this is extremely unpleasant – it disturbs the media picture of “an army for all.” Therefore, the Pentagon tries not to wash dirty linen in public.
In February 2011, 12 servicemen appealed to a Washington court due to the fact that the command did not react in any way to the sexual violence in the units and the brutality of the personnel. The plaintiffs requested an independent jury to review their complaints. The Pentagon said that sexual crimes are a serious social problem, the Secretary of Defense is doing everything possible to prevent such incidents and punish those involved. However, the perpetrators were quietly dismissed, no criminal cases were opened.
Non-statutory relations in NATO cannot be called an American exclusive. In March 2019, the Ouest-France newspaper spoke about the eerie “initiation ritual” that a French Air Force cadet was subjected to. More experienced colleagues tied the “green” to a target in the firing practice zone of attack aircraft. The shells exploded literally a hundred meters from him. The strange execution lasted for more than 20 minutes.
The future pilot received a severe psychological trauma and went to court in May 2021. The incident is now being investigated.

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