A Day Late
than be president of the United States
--Harry S. Truman
Were it not for a story reprinted from MilitaryTimes.com in his Purple Heart Magazine (May/June 2013) reprinted from MilitaryTimes.com, Ranger would not have known of the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient who served in Afghanistan, Clinton L. Romesha. Romesha was presented with his medal at the White House 11 Feb 2013.
Press on Romesha's MOH was scant, typified by this brief NYT piece, possibly because Romesha declined Michelle Obama's invitation to attend her husband's State of the Union speech while in town for the award, denying the President an important photo op. Romesha's action deserves some Ranger commentary.
Staff Sergeant Romesha was the section leader of the 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. During the action of 3 October 2009 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, this small unit fought for its life in a nasty little defensive fight reminiscent of those at Wanat and Waygul.
In all, U.S. troops were arrayed for combat in a defense position which was indefensible, to no apparent military purpose; the posts were abandoned soon after each fight.
Commander in Chief Obama said at SSG Romesha's MOH presentation that "A later investigation found that Command Outpost Keating was tactically indefensible". That's what these soldiers were asked to do: Defend the indefensible." If this assessment is correct, why was this not ascertained before eight U.S. soldiers were killed and 22 wounded, and why were the soldiers not extracted? The point of combat operations is that something be achieved as a result of the killing and violence; none of these fights met that bar.
Ranger is not questioning the indubitable valor of this engaged unit -- we are asking why COP Keating was hung out in the breeze, a tasty morsel for the Afghan opposition's picking? Hanging pretty medals from a brave soldier's neck does not erase the question.
In terms of U.S. response, the press rolls endless instant replays of the Benghazi Embassy murders and the Boston Marathon bombings, events in which eight U.S. citizens were killed. We are transfixed and mesmerized by these events, and yet hardly a whisper of the eight Americans killed in this 4th Infantry Division fight. No press and no indignation from the C in C down to the section leaders. Where are the congressional committee meetings searching to assign culpability for the failure?
Oddly, the Army reports four officers (0-3 through 06) received reprimands for the action, but the names or the nature of the reprimands are not stated; as the names are not given there is no way to verify the allegation. If there is culpability, the taxpayers have the right to know the names of the accused as we pay their salaries; this is democracy.
Or does democracy die incrementally in small little fights in insignificant valleys of inconsequential countries?
Why do we blithely accept the meaningless and sacrificial deaths of eight soldiers on some far-flung scrap of land which holds no value and gains us nothing? These soldiers did not die defending our country and Constitution. Their actions in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, were not connected to the safety and security of our Homeland. The U.S. could kill every Taliban fighter in Afghanistan and that country will still never be a democratic member of the fraternity of nations.
So whither the effort, death and destruction?