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MILITARY: Hold all commanders accountable

Letter by George M. Stevens Jr., Los Angeles, Calif. on March 28, 2011 at 11:53 am | 15 Comments »
March 28, 2011 11:53 am

Re: “Exemplary Army justice for Afghan war crimes” (editorial, 3-27).

The editorial on the 5th Stryker prosecutions is prescient, especially regarding the brigade commander, Col. Harry Tunnell.

In a Military Times article (4-20-2009), Tunnell spoke of the advantage in using the Land Warrior, a wearable command and control kit. “The main advantage is we’re fully networked, from team leader to vehicle systems and command posts all the way back to the (tactical operations centers( and fixed facilities.” He called it a “great system” that “has a digital eyepiece that’s compatible and is integrated with the rest of the Army’s battle command systems.”

Moreover, in a Tunnell treatise published by the Combat Studies Institute Press, he stated, “A commander must be “present and under fire” with his young soldiers (quotes in original, p. 47).” Further, he stated that this should be so “regardless of rank.”

There is no excuse for not knowing what a former member of his security detail was doing in the field, using Tunnell’s own rubric. All commanders in the chain of command, from Tunnell down to Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, should be prosecuted for criminal negligence.

Finally, Gibbs is alleged to have illegally amassed a personal stash of off-the-books weaponry for personal use. Who taught him how to do that in his previous deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan? The American public and the Army deserve better than to let accountability stop at the staff sergeant level. Otherwise, history will be doomed to repeat itself.

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