Hey, I just came across this posting regarding the Dedication Ceremony for Cherry-Beasley Readiness Center. I am concerned about a couple comments and would like to know where they are coming from.
All the power to you for putting out whatever you want, but I would be curious why you think some of the things you think.
I am most concerned about why you characterized the mission in southern Nawa when Cherry and Beasley were killed as a “staff boondoggle” arranged by me and the staff to get outside the wire. Now I know that we leaders don’t always get all the details down to the Soldier level like we should, and if something seems screwed up there can be a lot of complaining about it with no attempt to really get to the bottom of the reason, but I disagree with how you have described this mission.
The mission to southern Nawa was a reconnaissance of an area of known enemy influence. It was part of getting to know the area we were in, the “feel” you reference. But this was for A Co, not for the staff. The AT Platoon was included to provide additional firepower for the patrol because of the threat in the area. I was concerned about this area because we believed that the most southern areas (where during Christmas we launched a large scale operation with the ANA and Ghazni police) may have been providing support for enemy operations deeper in Ghazni Province near Ghazni City. That was the reason I sent the patrol down there. No other reason. Whatever other ideas people created in their minds either before or after the incident were their own. As for staff going on the mission, the only person that I recall sending that was not part of the assigned units was CSM McGhee. He and I decided he should go because it was a patrol early in the deployment and it might be good to have some extra experience along. Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about him, this was the reason I had him go along.
As for not trusting the junior leaders, the Battalion provided the mission. To the best of my knowledge, the battalion did not “plan” the mission. The S-3 may have provided guidance on it, but I do not believe MAJ Smith told A Co “how” to do the mission. He certainly didn’t tell them what route to use. I may be wrong, but generally I let commanders lead their units, unless there was a specific task to be accomplished and then I will admit I could be very directive. I do not know why the patrol used the same route. The only significant complaint brought to my attention on decisions I made had to do with the allocation of jamming devices and I fully accept responsibility for that. If you are interested I can explain the reasoning to you, but not in a public forum.
I accept your comment and the responsibility for ordering them to their deaths. I sent them on the mission. Just as I accept responsibility for SPC Hemauer’s death as well because I ultimately put all of you in the positions of danger you faced. But it was not a sight seeing tour, except in the context of reconning an area to become familiar with it and determine enemy influence.
Bottomline, believe me or not, that is your choice. But this is the first case I can recall that anyone has brought this idea of a boondoggle to my attention, and I only discovered it indirectly, you didn’t bring it to my attention. Maybe you assumed someone else did. I discovered after our return there were all these things I “knew” were going on. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t.
I am often amazed at what people think I should have known. I could just as easily say you should have known I would never send troops out on a boondoggle, but apparently you don’t know that or choose not to believe it. I see a lot of times when people decided they knew the truth without ever willing to ask the questions to really find it. Why would they, they already “knew.”
I don’t begrudge your hated of me. Unfortunately it comes with being a leader, but doesn’t make it any easier. I only ask that if you’re going to hate me, hate me over the facts and not what you think the facts are.
Good luck to you in all your endeavors.
By the way, you drawing the Emperor Penguin assignment. That is damn funny.
And there it is. I do not now nor have I ever asserted the COL Ortner ever actively tried to get anyone killed. That would be not only be naive (you don’t purposely destroy your assets) but would assign an accusation of malfeasance that is unwarranted. I still believe that he was a victim of the Peter Principle and as such so were others. I can and do fault the man for many things but not the willful and purposeful destruction of American lives and equipment. Poor leadership? I’ll stick by that. Culpability? Yes, it is always the leader’s fault whether success or failure is on the table. But intentionally killing your own troops? I never said that nor intended that to be understood.