Just when I think the news cannot possibly get any worse and it’s gonna be hard for me to find something to talk about – we hit a new low. The U.S. Army is hiding a deserter — Bowe Bergdahl. We have Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance in prison for killing the enemy. And my Army finds a way to go even lower.
As reported by the Washington Post, “CPT. Mathew L. Golsteyn was leading a Special Forces team in Afghanistan in 2010 when an 80-man mission he assembled to hunt insurgent snipers went awry. One of the unit’s five vehicles sank in mud, a gunshot incapacitated an Afghan soldier fighting alongside the Americans, and insurgents maneuvered on them to rake the soggy fields with machine-gun fire.”
“Golsteyn, already a decorated Green Beret officer, responded with calm resolve and braved enemy fire repeatedly that day, according to an Army summary of his actions. He received the Silver Star for valor for his actions during a 2011 ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C. Top Army officials later approved him for an upgrade to the prestigious Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor in recognizing combat heroism by U.S. soldiers.”
But here’s the kicker.
The Post says the officer, a former member of the 3rd Special Forces Group and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was later investigated for an undisclosed violation of the military’s rules of engagement in combat for killing a known enemy fighter and bomb maker, according to officials familiar with the case.”
The investigation closed last year without Golsteyn’s being charged with a crime, but Army Secretary John M. McHugh decided not only to deny Golsteyn the Distinguished Service Cross, but also to revoke his Silver Star. McHugh cited a provision in Army regulations that if facts become known that would have prevented the awarding of a medal, the award can be revoked.”
Ok, here we go again. How does one “violate the rules of engagement in combat by killing a known enemy fighter and bomb maker?” What does Secretary of the Army McHugh recommend — sharing MRE recipes?
Now, unless Major Golsteyn killed this enemy fighter by dismembering his body while alive, I truly don’t give a doggone. Remember the Combat Restraint Medal that was once considered? Well, thankfully it was defeated by those combat veterans who made their voices heard. But what kind of Army do we have now when we revoke medals for heroic actions because the same fella killed an enemy fighter! Doggone Secretary McHugh, that is what happens in COMBAT! And this is what happens when we’ve turned these positions inot nothing but political appointments.
I’m beginning to believe we should just eliminate the Military Service Secretariats — Army, Navy, Air Force. We should just keep the Secretary of Defense organization. Think about the cost savings in the defense budget.
But back to the story at hand, “The decision is still shrouded in mystery because of the secretive nature of the Army’s investigation into Golsteyn, who did extensive work with U.S. Marines in and around Marja in Helmand province. A spokesman for McHugh’s office, Lt. Col. Chris Kasker, declined to comment Wednesday, citing the administrative nature of the decision. But he released details of Golsteyn’s service record that show he no longer has a Silver Star and is not in Special Forces anymore. The major earned a Bronze Star and Army Commendation medal with “V” devices for heroism in earlier actions, Kasker said.”
“Golsteyn joined the Army in 2002. “The Army has been unable to present substantive evidence while an overwhelming number of first-person accounts provided to Army investigators uphold Matt’s record as a top-level operator,” said Hunter’s letter, which the congressman’s office released to The Post.”
I am still looking for something specific as to what Major Golsteyn did to violate ROE in killing the enemy. How is it that a decision can be made to revoke awards for the action for which he earned them? If there was an issue with Golsteyn, you don’t revoke something he’s earned, you suspend any positive actions for the Soldier. And it seems that there is nothing substantiated from the Army’s investigation, so why didn’t they reinstate his awards — and upgrade?
This is the Army — the America — in which we are now living.
But I wonder if Golsteyn’s critique of the Afghanistan mission in the past has anything to do with this kerfluffle. The Post says, “ In the 2011 Bing West book “The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan,” he is quoted as saying that the Americans were considered insurgents in Afghanistan who were “selling a poor product called the Kabul government.” West later wrote in a review of a book about another Special Forces soldier, Maj. Jim Gant, that the careers of Gant, Golsteyn and a third Green Beret, Dan McKone, were “terminated,” assessing that the Army failed them.”
A deserter named Bowe Bergdahl may walk with $300,000 in back pay. A Special Forces Green Beret officer who faced the enemy and killed them gets his awards for heroism revoked. So let me end this asking a simple question.
Secretary McHugh, whose side are you on?
And by the way, if you’d like a dose of heroism, here is the full account of what then CPT Golsteyn did:
“Golsteyn’s Silver Star came for actions on Feb. 20, 2010. He assembled his unit after his base had come under sniper fire from an insurgent wielding a Dragunov rifle, according to an Army narrative of his actions. He directed his troops to launch an assault across 700 meters of open fields, but an armored truck known as a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle sank into mud under gunfire after about 175 meters. Under heavy machine-gun and sniper fire, Golsteyn ran about 150 meters to the trapped MRAP to retrieve a powerful 84mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, an anti-tank weapon. While moving under gunfire, he coordinated a medical evacuation for the wounded Afghan soldier and then opened fire with the Carl Gustav, said the Army narrative, which was obtained by The Post. Captain Golsteyn was alone running in the open through enemy gun fire that had over 80 men pinned down, and from the crow’s nest on top of [Forward Operating Base] McQueary, it looked like Captain Golsteyn was alone fighting 30 enemy fighters out in the poppy fields,” the award narrative said. Enemy reinforcements continued to arrive on the battlefield, so Golsteyn organized airstrikes by both F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets and a Predator drone. No American or coalition troops were killed in the battle despite a barrage of enemy fire that lasted four hours, the narrative said.”