Duty? Honor? Country?

01 Dec

General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA, the current Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)  previously served as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, where he played an active role in the cover-up of the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident.

Corporal Tillman – Defensive Back for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals – enlisted in the U.S. Army following the terrorist attack on 9-11-01. He was killed by friendly fire while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan in 2004. Within a day of Tillman’s death, McChrystal was notified that Tillman was a victim of fratricide. Shortly thereafter, McChrystal was put in charge of paperwork to award Tillman a posthumous Silver Star for valor.

On April 28, 2004, six days after Tillman’s death, McChrystal approved a final draft of the Silver Star recommendation and submitted it to the acting Secretary of the Army, even though the medal recommendation deliberately omitted any mention of friendly fire, included the phrase “in the line of devastating enemy fire,” and was accompanied by fabricated witness statements.

On April 29, 2004, McChrystal sent an urgent memo warning White House speechwriters not to quote the medal recommendation in any statements they wrote for President Bush because it “might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.” McChrystal was one of eight officers recommended for discipline by a subsequent Pentagon investigation but the Army declined to take action against him.

McChrystal also served as commander of what Newsweek termed “the most secretive force in the U.S. military,” where he maintained a very low profile until June 2006, when his forces were responsible for the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. After McChrystal’s team successfully located Zarqawi and called in the air strike that killed him, McChrystal accompanied his men to the bombed-out hut to personally identify the body.

McChrystal’s Zarqawi unit, Task Force 6-26, became more well-known for its interrogation methods, particularly at Camp Nama, where it was accused of abusing detainees. After the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal became public in April 2004, 34 members of McChrystal’s the task force were disciplined, but he was not.

Having deliberately taken part in falsifying an award, and in knowingly covering up the death of a U.S. soldier, plus having commanded a task force that abused detainees, how can anyone truly trust the man who is in charge of the United State’s war effort in Afghanistan?

Clearly we now live in a time when the words, duty, honor and country are merely that, words. Clearly the much publicized seven Army Values, values such as respect and integrity, in reality, have very little “value” to men such as Gen. McChrystal, even though one point of the Soldier’s Creed of the United State’s Army clearly states, “I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.”

According to the Army Values, “Integrity” means to “Do what’s right—legally and morally”.

“The American people rightly look to their military leaders not only to be skilled in the technical aspects of the profession of arms, but also to be men of integrity. People of integrity consistently act according to principles—not just what might work at the moment. People of integrity do the right thing not because it’s convenient or because they have no choice. They choose the right thing because their character permits no less.

“Conducting yourself with integrity has three parts: Separating what’s right from what’s wrong; always acting according to what you know to be right, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you’re acting on your understanding of right versus wrong.”

I’m finding it difficult to understand how anyone serving in today’s United State’s Army, much less as a General Officer can reconcile his part in lying and covering up the death of a soldier and the Army’s definition of integrity.

The Army Values define “Respect” that you “Treat people as they should be treated”.

“Army leaders honor everyone’s individual worth by treating all people with dignity and respect.”

“The leader who feels and gives the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself.  While he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.

“Respect for the individual forms the basis for the rule of law, the very essence of what makes America. In the Army, respect means recognizing and appreciating the inherent dignity and worth of all people. This value reminds you that your people are your greatest resource.”

Clearly the Army’s definition of “respect” is different for the man who commanded a task force known for abusing detainees.

I’m also finding it difficult to understand what value this General still has to his country. How is his appointment to lead the new surge in Afghanistan of any worth to our country’s efforts there? Clearly he is a man without integrity, without honor and who does not respect others. If he did so, he would have resigned rather than lie to Pat Tillman’s family and to his country.

President Obama was wrong in placing him in command. He should have asked for his resignation, as well as the resignation of any other leaders who have in any way likewise soiled the reputation of the Army or of the United States. There are other men and women in the Army who can command and who still believe in what our country and in what our military stand for.

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Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Afghanistan


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