"Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR."
~ Vietnam Pilot
"In combat, honor is obtained by those who do what must be done, not what is allowed by those who refuse to fight or die for their own cause...my extremes pump fear into the enemy for generations come, your extremes cause warriors to bow in the presence of the unworthy, presenting weakness and opportunity ... well, I bow to no man"
~ Antonio Cezar Vega
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Tag Archives: US TROOPS
Penned by Billy and Karen Vaughn
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are now forced to fight a two-fronted war. Before each deployment, these soldiers understand fully that day after day they will do battle against relentless terrorists with shifting loyalties and unspeakable hatred. But what none of them could have foreseen was the killing field that would open from their rear: the Continental United States.
Our government’s incessant tightening of already restrictive ROE (Rules of Engagement), compounded by the failed COIN (Counterinsurgency) strategy—also known as “winning hearts and minds”—has made an otherwise primitive enemy formidable.
Our best and brightest come home in body bags as politicians and lawyers dine over white linen tablecloths; writing, modifying, and re-modifying these lethal rules. Rules that favor the enemy rather than the American soldier. Rules so absurd they’re difficult to believe until you hear the same stories over and again from those returning from battle.
In a delicate discussion with an Army Ranger who recently left the military, we heard the following: “I had to get out. I have a family who needs me. I didn’t join to be sacrificed. I joined to fight.”
This decision came shortly after he lost a close friend to the ROE. He explained how the Taliban had attempted an ambush on his friend’s squad but quickly realized they were in a battle they couldn’t win and began retreating. While chasing them, the U.S. soldiers were ordered not to engage due to the slight chance the Taliban had laid down their arms as they ran through some type of shack. While arguing with leadership at the JOC (Joint Operations Center), his friend was shot and killed.
A Navy SEAL who left his job only a few years shy of full retirement said the following: “I got out because I couldn’t take it anymore. We tried to explain how much reckless danger we were being exposed to and they told us we were being illogical.”
This type of response has created a growing crisis of confidence between our warfighters and senior military leadership. His argument wasn’t illogical at all.
A gut-wrenching pattern began forming in early 2009, a pattern completely ignored by Congress, the White House, and apparently the DoD.
In the first seven plus years of war in Afghanistan (October 2001 – December 2008) we lost 630 U.S. soldiers. In early 2009, this administration authorized the implementation of the COIN strategy. Over the next five years, the U.S. death toll skyrocket to 2,292.
Seventy-three percent of all U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have taken place since 2009.
In the first seven plus years of war in Afghanistan, 2,638 U.S. soldiers were wounded in action. In the next forty-five months (2009 – 2012) an additional 15,036 suffered the same fate.
Liars figure, but figures don’t lie.
While concern over being killed due to these policies weighs heavily on the minds of those we’ve spoken with, the deepest pit in the stomach comes from fear of prosecution should they violate these absurd and ever-changing ROE. The last thing a warfighter should ever be forced to experience is unnecessary fear.
Fear creates hesitation. Hesitation creates flag-draped caskets. Flag-draped caskets create fatherless children, widowed wives, and childless parents. Our heroes deserve the right to fight with swift hands, clear minds, and confident hearts.
However, today’s warfighters have the grave misfortune of serving leaders who elevate the virtues of inaction over action. The message? If you dare use your training or your gut instinct, if you have the fortitude to fight for your life or the desire to kill the enemy, there is a good chance you will be punished.
The physiological capacities of a true patriot cannot tolerate the vile stench of injustice, especially when perpetrated against those who defend us. Its wretched aroma permeates the core and demands a response.
We’re counting on you, the American patriot, for that response. We must defend our defenders. Please, spread the news and demand change.
Billy & Karen Vaughn are Gold Star parents of Special Operations Chief (SEAL) Aaron Vaughn, KIA 6 Aug 2011. Billy is the author of Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17. Read more or schedule the Vaughns for a speaking event at http://www.forourson.us.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff also have shown their lack of character and honor. They are cowards who do not have the backs of those who serve under them or of those who have ever served this country! May history remember them as the coward YES MEN that they are!
I LOVE JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO! SHE JUST BITCH-SLAPPED EVERYONE AT TOP LEVEL FOR THE TREATMENT OF OUR TROOPS, VETERANS AND FALLEN WARRIORS!
10/12/13 – Judge Jeanine Pirro Explodes At Obama Administration – Opening Statement – Obama Administration Refusal to Bury U.S. Soldiers –
WTH? Army forces in Afghanistan must obtain “warrants” to enter local homes before setting out on combat missions
Combat warrants limit raids, cause worry over leaks
Posted : Tuesday May 22, 2012 11:14:19 EDT
Army forces in Afghanistan must obtain “warrants” to enter local homes before setting out on combat missions, causing concern among soldiers and Afghan forces over potential leaks that could imperil missions.
As NATO forces take a back seat in operations, the Afghan government now bans some U.S. conventional forces from running independent raids and mandates that U.S. forces share operational details with joint coordination cells, said Maj. Joe Buccino, an Army spokesman in Paktika province.
The National Directorate of Security in Afghanistan oversees warrant processes conducted by both American and Afghan forces.
Though corruption has long plagued Afghan governmental agencies, a risk of leaks must be considered in the context of the U.S. transition of control to Afghans, Buccino said.
“We are now in a stage of the mission in Afghanistan where Afghans have got to be doing the security,” he said. “If that means we assume risk with operational security, then we do so. We are no longer at the point in Afghanistan where the capture of one group of high-value targets is going to turn the tide of the war.
“Americans don’t just ask for permission and then go hit these targets,” he added. “We plan and rehearse with our Afghan partners, so the hazard of leaked information is inherent in the entire process.”
Neither the Afghan government nor NATO has released details about a combat warrant system. The Afghan Ministry of Interior has not answered repeated emails and calls from Army Times.
A similar warrant-based system was enacted by the U.S. military and Iraqi government during the closing months of the Iraq War.
In March, the Afghanistan coalition commander mentioned the Iraq system while testifying about night raids to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington.
Marine Gen. John Allen, the International Security Assistance Force commander, lauded a system agreed upon by the U.S. and Iraqi governments during the Iraq War in late 2008.
“That system was successful, but it was successful because we were able to streamline the judicial process in ways that supported the operations rather than impeded the operations,” he said.
The agreement in Iraq came more than a year and a half after a historic troop surge and as the U.S. moved to an “advise and assist” role during the war’s final stage, called Operation New Dawn.
In Afghanistan, outrage by locals and politicians over night raids led to a memorandum of understanding signed by U.S. forces and the Afghan government that shifted control of “special operations” and night raids to Afghan officials.
“The MOU has just codified what was already taking place for months: the transition to Afghan control of all security operations and, in this case, special operations,” Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a coalition spokesman, said in an email to Army Times. “These are Afghan-led special operations and they have been doing this for months … and it has not hindered or slowed the ability of the U.S./Afghan forces in conducting their operations.”
The MOU specified that the Afghan Operational Coordination Groups would approve special operations in the war zone, and Afghan forces would carry out missions with help from U.S. forces, according to the Defense Department.
The MOU was signed less than a year after President Obama announced the U.S. would reduce troop levels that were boosted by a surge in 2010.
Until the MOU, the U.S. and Afghan forces had partnered for more than 95 percent of night operations, Cummings said.
In 2011, ISAF conducted about 2,200 night special operations and “in 90 percent of those cases, we did not fire a single shot,” Cummings said. Civilian casualties occurred in fewer than 35 cases, he added.
The NATO ISAF in Afghanistan is training 12 “Afghan Strike Forces,” he said. Afghans are supposed to lead all operations by the end of 2014.
“The Afghan special operations units have developed at extraordinary speed and are manned by courageous and capable operators,” Allen said in an April release from the Pentagon. “We also recognize the growing capacity of the Afghan judicial system, which will play a vital part not only in the implementation of this agreement but also in the lives of Afghan citizens.”
Posted at Diana West
Here I am again in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., the highest appeals court for the U.S. military. Last month, I was here to cover Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna’s final appeal. Now I am waiting for Army Sgt. Evan Vela’s final appeal to begin. I glance over at Evan’s father, Curtis Carnahan, and Evan’s wife, Alyssa, sitting together in the otherwise empty first row, and I can’t believe it’s been more than four years since Curtis first emailed me:
“I am Sgt. Evan Vela’s father. I do not know if you have followed my son’s case, but some people have drawn similarities between the Luttrell situation and Evan’s.”
Curtis was referring to Marcus Luttrell, whose 2007 best-seller “Lone Survivor” tells of four Navy SEALs, Luttrell among them, whose 2005 mission in Afghanistan was compromised when two unarmed Afghan goatherds discovered the SEALs hiding deep in Taliban territory. I had written a column discussing the excruciating fact that the thought of being brought up on legal charges in a military court back home weighed so heavily on these young Americans’ minds that they decided not to save their own lives and their mission by killing the two Afghans, but rather to take their chances against the veritable Taliban army the pair would summon against them.
“It was the stupidest, most Southern-fried, lame-brain decision I ever made in my life,” Luttrell later wrote of his decisive vote to let the two Afghans go. As a result of the decision the SEALs made on an Afghan mountaintop far from any courthouse, 19 Americans — Luttrell’s three SEAL teammates and 16 more special forces — would be killed that same day.
But no one went to court.
In Evan’s case, the leader of his elite sniper squad chose the other path. It was May 2007, in insurgent-controlled Iskandariyah, Iraq. When an unarmed Iraqi man compromised the team’s “hide” and refused to cooperate quietly, the team leader chose not to risk drawing local insurgents to their position, but instead ordered Evan to kill the man. As a result of this decision, all of our soldiers came home that day.
But then they went to court. Long saga short, Evan Vela became the only soldier convicted of the killing. He was sentenced to 10 years at Fort Leavenworth military prison — the shortest sentence of the so-called Leavenworth 10, as Curtis reminded me this week, using the nickname for a group of veterans who are incarcerated for a variety of desperate, blurry, fog-of-war shootings.
Listening to the procedural review of Evan’s case, I am struck again by the ghastly surrealism of their plight — the penalties the U.S. government has forced on its most dutiful sons for not committing, in effect, suicide as the Navy SEALs did in choosing to escape prison rather than death.
Meanwhile, literally thousands of incarcerated terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have been granted clemency or otherwise found their freedom. Recently, Ali Musa Daqduq, a Hezbollah mastermind who confessed to kidnapping, torturing and killing five American soldiers in 2007, walked free in Iraq. In December 2011, President Obama turned over Daqduq to an Iraqi court, which released him this month. According to the most basic moral calculus, this is neither fair nor right. As Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida recently wrote to President Obama, it’s an “utter betrayal.”
I steal another glance at the Carnahans, now focused on the court proceedings. Like the other Leavenworth families, they have been counting off the years by trials, appeals, clemency boards and pleas for congressional support. Back in early 2009, there were flutters in the news about a possible pardon for Evan from outgoing President Bush. Then nothing. No pardon. Which was, to my mind, unpardonable. George W. Bush should have pardoned Evan and the other soldiers, now prisoners, whom he ordered into a confusing, rules-restricted war against an army without uniforms on a battlefield without lines.
And so, the Leavenworth 10 sit in prison: Michael Behenna, Corey Clagett, John Hatley, William Hunsaker, Larry Hutchins, Michael Leahy, Joseph Mayo, Michael Williams, Evan Vela. Newcomer Derrick Miller has joined them. Miller last year drew a life sentence after unsuccessfully claiming self-defense in the killing of a suspected Afghan insurgent who had penetrated his defensive perimeter.
Memorial Day — the day we mourn our war dead — is coming. President Obama, give these men another chance at life. Pardon them.
“Armed Forces Day celebrates you – the men and women in uniform, who have stood fast in the face of adversity with honor, courage and commitment. Wherever you serve on this day, pause to remember those who have gone before, those whose shoulders on which you stand and be proud of your dedication and service to our great nation and Corps.”
– Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos