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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Battle at Wanat: Is Army doing enough to review deaths of soldiers?

Army will learn from deaths of soldiers in Wanat battle

On July 13, 2008, nine brave American soldiers died fighting courageously in a fierce battle in Wanat, Afghanistan.

Our hearts go out to their families. From this tragic loss, we will learn; in addition to a formal commander’s inquiry conducted after the battle, two independent reviews are underway.

The first is a Department of Defense Inspector General review in response to a request from the families of our soldiers lost in the battle. The Army inspector general is participating in this effort.

As with other studies dealing with battles, and separate from the reviews, the Army’s Combat Studies Institute is conducting a historical analysis of the battle.

We will look at ourselves, draw lessons, and implement those lessons across the force. While references have been made to a draft report [“Army’s missteps set stage for tragedy, study finds,” page one, July 31] this study is in fact an incomplete working paper.

Interviews, fact-checking and the review process, including peer-review by other historians, must be completed. It will then be published as a study with the benefit of a broad range of interviews, firsthand accounts and detailed analyses of the circumstances.

It is essential to note that the courage, valor and discipline of the soldiers who fought that battle have been universally acclaimed. These soldiers defended their position under an intense attack and persevered in a fashion that is a testament to their bravery and tenacity.

The Army commends their example and honors their heroism.

— General Peter W. Chiarelli, U.S. Army vice chief of staff, Washington, D.C.

In Wanat tragedy, Army must acknowledge its failure

In a world where we can find out every detail about Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett’s death, we never get to hear about true heroes, doing things that require extraordinary courage.

When I read the article about the Army’s missteps, so beautifully written by Hal Bernton and Cheryl Phillips, I cried into my coffee cup while they described a bunch of young men — American men — who were left for cannon fodder in a place where they had to dig with their bare hands to make reinforcement walls and didn’t even have enough water to sustain life in such a harsh environment.

As our city’s only newspaper, your responsibility to the citizens of Seattle is to bring these things to light and as citizens, our responsibility is to act on the information presented. I urge everyone reading this to call their congressman, senators and any other elected official to help ensure no more American lives are wasted in these types of situations.

Shame on the Army for not providing adequate support, but I believe they should be forced to acknowledge their role, even if by government intervention, to ensure this type of slaughter never occurs again.

Jackson and Fawcett were iconic entertainers, and we enjoyed their performances. But these men and women who serve our country while we are all enjoying Seafair and summertime are the real heroes and should be treated as such.

My condolences to the families, and my kudos to The Seattle Times for printing the story and shedding a little light on the subject.

— Charlotte Lawson, Seattle

Comments | More in Afghanistan, Middle East, military

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