It has taken two years and two months for an investigation to determine that the dereliction of duty on the part of at least one Officer led to the deaths of four Service members at Ganjgal. For those not familiar with the story, this is the same engagement that yielded a Congressional Medal of Honor for Corporal Dakota Meyers and is likely to see another member of the ill-fated mission
honored with yet another.
Questions concerning fire support or better, lack of fire support have been asked ever since but have not produced truthful answers. What is clear is that once the Task Force came under overwhelming fire, they requested supporting arms fire which they had been promised during the planning phase of the operation. The command element that denied them supporting fires did so citing the tightened Rules of Engagement that were initiated by General Stanley McChrystal just months earlier.
Those rules were put in place to reduce civilian casualties which had the "unintended" consequence of increasing risk to our forces. We have argued this point over these past nearly three years now as being short-sighted, ineffective and immoral and largely because they were set as a direct result of a strategy that never had any chance of success; COIN.
Many have argued that orders to withhold fire support from that and other engagements were, and are correct and necessary in order to properly support COIN. Of course, those who argue this last point do so because they have bought into the fantasy that employing this strategy, in this environment, could succeed. The sad truth is, those who support COIN as a legitimate strategy
cannot envision an environment in which it cannot succeed. Add to this an absolutely baseless understanding of the people in Afghanistan, their willing adherence to Islam, their level of support for the Taliban in the face of a perceived Infidel occupying force and what you have is a recipe for dead American Servicemen.
Given this prevailing mindset within the military community and the political structure here at home, it is truly remarkable that this investigating board would finally render a ruling ending the career of one Officer and possible another. For me, it is far less than what these Officers deserve. Anyone tasked with delivering supporting arms fires to Marines and Soldiers needing them, who
then denies them, deserves not only expulsion, but prison.
There are many others guilty however, because the decision to hold back supporting arms fire - artillery and air, was promulgated by the restrictive ROE put in place by General Stanley McChrystal. And that was put in place because the Command structure had determined the best way to proceed with the Afghan operation was within the paradigm of COIN doctrine. Coin doctrine was selected given the Op Order produced by the Pentagon which got it's assessment from Sec Def. Sec Def was poisoned by a politically correct and academically stunted body politic who could not, and cannot, stand the truth about either Afghanistan or the teachings of it's prevailing religion. So if these Officers are guilty of the deaths of those service members, so is the entire command/political structure that created the situation in the first place.
There is absolutely no question that the Officers given charge of those supporting arms assets are guilty of poor judgment that day and I know there are those reading this who will argue the point. The problem for those who see it differently, however, is that the UCMJ does not give any of us "wiggle room" to declare our actions as correct just because we are "following orders". Anyone who wears the uniform is held to a higher standard and that requires the individual to assess the orders he is given and disobey orders that are illegal. While that standard may not always be easy to determine, it is never-the-less, the standard. Any Officer who would deny
providing an asset designed to protect the lives of our service members - especially under these circumstances, is not worthy of the uniform. And yes providing either artillery or air that day may well have increased the risk of civilian casualties and for those Officers, their careers may well have been shortened anyway but I will bet they would be sleeping a whole lot better!
And what of our Politicians who, for the most part have been sitting idly by while we have watched incident after incident unfold in which American Servicemen have been killed or brutalized? How many times must we write these stories or call them demanding they take action before we declare the entire system irrevocably corrupted and their lack of action, criminal? How many more Servicemen need to suffer - not the pains of war but wounds inflicted by a flawed strategy born of a stubborn adherence to a faulty understanding of the enemy born out of
politically correct tripe?
Burn these Officers? You bet! But throw those in congress, and the administration and Sec Def and the Pentagon who allowed this to happen to begin with, into some cold, damp pit of a prison until eternity as well!