15th May is International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and in 2006 War Resisters' International focuses on the situation of and support to US war resisters: Gis applying for conscientious objector status, going AWOL, or finding other ways to get discharged from the US military.

The ongoing war in Iraq lead to growing dissatisfaction among soldiers, especially from the US forces, who form the main foreign contingent in Iraq. Those who apply for discharge as conscientious objectors, or who go AWOL, are only the visible tip of the iceberg. The 'stop-loss' policy of the US military - a policy which means that a soldier has to continue to serve although his/her contract has come to an end - is not only a reaction to the growing counter-recruitment movement (see page 3), but also a reaction to soldiers' unwillingness to re-enlist after the end of their contract. However, at the same time this policy adds to the growing dissatisfaction.

For anti-war activists it is important to build bridges to soldiers who oppose the war, and who want to get out of the military. The US anti-war movement has a better understanding of this than most other anti-war movements, especially in Europe. Focusing on soldiers' resistance from within - in order to get out - therefore also provides an opportunity to learn from the US experience, and to build support structures for soldiers/conscientious objectors in other countries.

Andreas Speck

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