5 years ago
From the Marine Corps Times:
A member of the House Armed Services Committee is calling for the Army to divulge what punishment three officers received for failing to respond adequately to an ambush in Afghanistan that killed five U.S. troops.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., asked Army Secretary John McHugh to explain the “consequences” the Army officers faced following a joint Army-Marine investigation of the Sept. 8, 2009, ambush near the village of Ganjgal, he said in an interview with Marine Corps Times.
Army Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, a spokesman for McHugh, declined to comment on what punishment was delivered, but said the Army planned to respond to Jones’ inquiry.
“Clearly, the deaths at Ganjgal were tragic,” she said. “But as is standard practice in the Army, we apply the lessons learned from all reviews and investigations … to prevent repeating mistakes of the past.”
The attack occurred as 13 U.S. military trainers and about 80 Afghan security forces made an early-morning trip to the remote village in Kunar province to meet with village elders.
Three Marines and a Navy corpsman were found shot to death and stripped of their gear and weapons in a ditch after being pinned down for hours, without air and artillery support, by more than 100 insurgents wielding rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, according to witness statements obtained by Marine Corps Times. A U.S. soldier wounded in the ambush died the following month at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
“I believe that they are seriously looking into the facts as to what happened during that fight,” said Jones, who served in Congress with McHugh, a former New York representative. “I have a great respect for Secretary McHugh, and I believe he will get to the bottom of it, and once a decision is made … he will release his findings.”
Two investigations were launched following the Ganjgal attack. The first was headed by an Army major in the first days after the attack. The second, in November, focused primarily on command-post failure, and was overseen by Army Col. Richard Hooker and Marine Col. James Werth, military officials said. The colonels found that there was a failure of leadership in the operations center, and that the troops on the ground were promised air and artillery support before the mission if it became necessary.
The investigating colonels recommended that three Army officers — likely captains or majors — receive letters of reprimand for failing to provide adequate support from a nearby operations center at Forward Operating Base Joyce. The officers were part of Task Force Chosin, an Army unit comprising soldiers from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, N.Y.
… the reprimands (Editorial Note: For the Wanat engagement, not Ganjgal) were rescinded in June by retiring Gen. Charles Campbell, who commanded U.S. Army Forces Command, out of Fort McPherson, Ga. He shared his decision with the families of the dead soldiers June 23, and the meeting ended abruptly when several of them walked out angrily, family members told Army Times.
Regular readers know my position on this ambush. I had predicted that no investigation would find that General McChrystal’s tactical directive and associated guidance played a role in the lack of fire support during the engagement. I had (correctly) predicted that the field grade officers involved in this incident should watch their six. I also don’t see much value to the AR 15-6 investigation into the ambush.
But I maintain one fact. McChrystal’s rules of engagement was directly responsible for three Marines and one Navy Corpsman perishing that fateful day. Their blood is on his hands.
The Marine Corps Times has apparently obtained witness statements, and I have requested them but have not yet received any word concerning the statements. The next step will be a contact to Representative Walter Jones. We’ll eventually have full disclosure on the circumstances surrounding these deaths.