From Kevin O’Brien, Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Lt. Erick Anderson doesn’t have to go back to war.
He’s not the only one who ought to breathe a sigh of relief.
Rep. Steve LaTourette’s (R-OH) view is that Anderson has done enough and has had enough done to him – by people on his own side – that putting him back on active duty would be wrong.
LaTourette is right. Sending Anderson back to war would have been both a moral outrage and a practical danger.
But until Tuesday, when a wave of publicity broke on the case, that was precisely what the Army proposed to do.
Thanks in part to LaTourette’s intervention, that plan is no longer on the table.
Now, the Army ought to take the next logical steps: Leave Anderson be. Take him off the Individual Ready Reserve list. Give him a discharge. An honorable one. And give him the thanks of what ought to be a nation both grateful for his service and apologetic for his unmerited suffering.
The man has been through the wringer – a casualty of a hyper-lawyered war.
For two stints in Iraq, Anderson did his best, which apparently wasn’t good enough for the people who draw up the rules of engagement and schedule the courts-martial. Anderson, a Twinsburg native, was accused by the Army of ordering the killings of two Iraqis, apparently civilians, in incidents a year apart. Over a little more than a year, the charges were dropped, revived, expanded and eventually revealed to be false – the result of another Soldier’s angling for a lighter sentence for himself.
And after all of that, after coming within an ace of subjecting Anderson to the death penalty for “murder,” the Army wanted to put him back out there, with his life and those of his command on the line.
No way. Not under the PR-sensitive rules of engagement that have defined this fight from the moment U.S. boots crossed the Afghan and Iraqi borders.
……Decades from now, when the sober military analysis of U.S. performance in Iraq and Afghanistan is complete and all of the statistics are in the books, we still won’t know how many American lives were lost because Soldiers afraid of facing a murder charge waited a beat too long to shoot.
……Our troops have done – and are doing – amazing things, especially in Iraq. They’re succeeding in the face of a ruthless enemy that uses noncombatants as both shields and camouflage; rules of engagement that give the enemy ridiculous advantages; and western media that since the beginning have been hoping desperately for this war’s My Lai.
……We owe them all a debt of thanks for taking on an incredibly difficult job, which we then made harder by telling them how important it was to fight politely.
They’re on our side to the point that they’re willing to die for us. The least we could do is be on theirs.
ROE aside, Soldiers have but a split second to make a life or death decision. You’re in a shoot or don’t shoot situation in a war where anyone could be a bad guy. In a case such as this, my benefit of the doubt goes to the Soldiers.
Victory is not attained through idiotic opinion polls, fatuous debate over Rules of Engagement or treatment of Islamic terrorist cut throats held at GITMO. It’s won by anihilating the enemy. They attack us, we destroy them. Simple.
It takes a leader with the intestinal fortitude to do what’s best for the country in spite of itself and its detractors. In addition, the crap going on with regard to knee-jerk prosecution over perceived “war crimes” is a result of political correctness run amok.
It’s easy for the REMF lawyers with the aid of a UCMJ manual in front of them, to sit in judgement of Soldiers who are out front making the tough decisions.
JAG lawers need to extract their heads from their ‘sixth point of contact’ and focus on the jihadists being held for trial. They’re the ones guilty of war crimes.