An Open Letter to Ohio Congressional Delegation from the Parent of an Ohio Soldier on 2nd Tour in Iraq
The man that wrote this, Bobby, is a Vietnam veteran, veteran of the first American War in the Gulf and a retired officer in the Air Force. He is also co-founder of American's for Shared Sacrifice. Bobby has raised some excellant questions that need to be addressed and the sooner rather than later. While the Republican Party and the Democratic Party fight over who will have the most power in congress, the death toll in Iraq keeps rising daily; the U.S. economy keeps going further in the toilet due to outrageous debt; and the very people sent to fight this BushCo war of choice are coming back to a V.A. that tells theem there is "no room at the Inn." There is no such thing as "shared sacrifice" today in this country as the only ones sacrificing are the one's going to Iraq and their familie's who are paying for this BushCo war of Choice in Iraq.
Yours in solidarity and peace---Jack
OPEN LETTER TO THE ENTIRE “BIPARTISAN”
OHIO CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION
FROM: PARENTS OF AN OHIO SOLDIER ON HIS SECOND 18 MONTH “COMBAT” TOUR IN IRAQ
SUBJECT: The President Owes Congress a Strategy for Success in Iraq
June 16, 2005
As the parents of an Ohio Soldier on his second 18 month "combat" tour in Iraq, WE ask that the entire bipartisan Ohio Congressional delegation support the “bipartisan” efforts of Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi of California to call for ACCOUNTABILITY and some kind of recognizable exit strategy from Iraq as defined in Pelosi's Press Release below. We see this as a bipartisan solution out of the growing quagmire Iraq is becoming according to “our son’s” unit commander in Iraq.
Given the feedback WE got from "our son" in Iraq, email reports from his unit at the front, and the continuing failure of the Pentagon to meet it's recruitment goals BECAUSE of the many questions surrounding Iraq, WE ask that YOU either join US in advocating for Selective Service in a bipartisan spirit of “Patriotic National Shared Sacrifice” in order to assist our "ground forces" in meeting their needs, so that our sons and daughters don’t have to serve a third “combat” tour in Iraq (along with other Soldiers and Marines) OR join US in supporting Congresswomen Pelosi's “bipartisan call” upon President Bush for a definitive EXIT STRATEGY from Iraq.
In an email message Update from Colonel Hickey 5.4.05, our son’s unit commander tells us, “The environment we are operating in is as complex as it gets. Tal Afar has Arabs, Turkomens, and Kurds as far as ethnic groups and each one of these ethnic groups has Sunni and Shiite religious subgroups. Add foreign fighters, former Baath Party members and Saddam cronies and you can see how we keep busy trying to figure it all out.”
In an email message Sabre Squadron Update May 21, 2005, Colonel Hickey reports that,
“The reality of war once again hits Sabre Squadron with the loss of a great cavalry scout who was killed in action on 16 May in Tall Afar, Iraq. SGT Jacob Simpson of Fox Troop, was universally respected and admired by his leaders, peers, and subordinates alike. He was the type of person that everyone wanted on their team and to be around, was always smiling, and was a true professional American Soldier. SGT Simpson’s last mission was to protect an Iraqi hospital that was under daily terrorists attack. Prior to being secured by Fox troop two weeks earlier, the Tall Afar General Hospital was so much under the control of terrorists that the local police feared having their wounded treated there. Families now bring their babies and toddlers for treatment because of the security provided by Fox Troop and the Iraqi Army. SGT Simpson gave his life protecting these Iraqi families he never knew. Following the attack that killed SGT Simpson, Sabre Squadron conducted a combat operation in the area surrounding the hospital with the combined combat power of Fox, Eagle, Grim, Heavy, Lion, Rattler, Outlaw and Pegasus Air Cav Troops, F15s from the USAF, and a couple hundred Iraqi infantry. We entered the city under the cover of darkness and some terrorists awoke to find their neighborhood surrounded with an enormous amount of combat power. Needless to say, we captured some very evil people that day. The difficulty in fighting a counterinsurgency is finding out who the terrorists are in a sea of good people. Terrorists are able to hide in plain sight. The vast majority of the Iraqi people we encountered during this mission were actually supportive of our efforts. Our greatest weapon during this mission was the Iraqi Army which is extremely effective in picking out the bad guys. Conducting combat operations is not the only method we have to fight an insurgency. Insurgencies tend to exist in unstable environments therefore we are working to stabilize the city. Next week we will have meetings to set up a judicial system, with business leaders and factory managers to determine where we can quickly establish more jobs, between US and Iraqi doctors on how to improve the hospital, and power, water, and phone utility directors to improve the city’s poor infrastructure. It is not uncommon for me to be at one of these meetings in the Mayor’s office while we are conducting combat operations two streets away, and delivering soccer balls to kids two blocks away.”
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ohio delegation this report could have been written by a field commander from some Hamlet in Vietnam to describe trying to subdue a village invested by Viet Cong. Note Colonel Hickey’s own words, “The difficulty in fighting a counterinsurgency (like Vietnam) is finding out who the terrorists (Viet Cong) are in a sea of good people (South Vietnamese).
These reports from the front in themselves are damning.
In an email message from Major Solomon 28 May 2005: “Ladies, (the Major really believes we would show this crap to our wives)You may see news reports of car bombs near our base camps and in our area. Though there were, unfortunately, casualties amongst our Iraqi security force allies and Iraqi employees, there were no casualties to the Regt.MAJ SolomonRegimental Rear Detachment Commander”
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ohio Congressional delegation not only is the above messages a clear violation of “operations security,” but our son’s unit has been sending these detailed combat operations reports on distribution lists to thousands of military families at Fort Carson, Colorado through their Family support network. This is highly inappropriate. Why? Because SGT Jacob Simpson’s name was released to the world by this Colonel BEFORE his family was notified. Military families have no need to know this detail of information AND it does MORE HARM than good to MORALE. DAH!
If we complain to the commander, the command, or the Pentagon there IS the actual FEAR of retaliation against our Soldiers in Iraq. BUT the time for that FEAR is long past when the alternative is DEATH due to incompetent LEADERSHIP in this Chain of Command.
This is indicative of the quality of LEADERSHIP in the Chain of Command from the Commander-In-Chief to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to the yes-men Generals afraid of Rumsfeld right DOWN the line. A chain of command where “RESPONSIBILITY” breaks down to the lowest common denominator = the lowest ranking Soldier or Marine that “this administration” can find as a scapegoat for anything that goes WRONG in Iraq.
Everything about this WAR in Iraq is starting to smell to high heaven of Vietnam. Oh yes there are differences = THE COLOR OF THE SAND AND ETHNICITY OF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED.
To highlight how out of control the Congressional oversight of the War in Iraq is, Military Families, YES - Military Families are subjected to the above psychological operations (PSYOPS), detailed combat operations reports, and “casualty reports” on a daily basis. IS IT ANY WONDER THAT THE MILITARY RECRUITERS ARE NOT MEETING THEIR MONTHLY QUOTAS? DO YOU SERIOUSLY BELIEVE THAT ANY MILITARY FAMILY WITH A TROOP IN COMBAT IS GOING TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO RE-ENLIST MUCH LESS ENCOURAGE ANY FRIEND, NEIGHBOR OR FAMILY MEMBER TO DO THE SAME UNLESS THEY ARE CRAZY? What the Pentagon is doing is a morale killer for America’s military families.
In an email message Letter from LTC Hickey 3 May 2005, “On September 28, 2005 Sabre Squadron suffered its first casualties to hostile contact. Two soldiers were killed in action and two others were wounded in action. The incident occurred in the area west of Mosul in northern Iraq where the majority of the squadron is conducting operations. Our fallen troopers were both from Grim Troop. They are Private First Class Robert Murray and Private First Class Ricky Rockholt. Our two wounded troopers were also from Grim Troop. They are Specialist Nicholas Beintema and Specialist Bryan Lofton. Both the wounded are currently under the close treatment of Army medical personnel.
This is obviously very sad news for all of us. Your support and prayers for the troopers and their families are greatly appreciated. Your respect for the feelings and privacy of the families is also important. Please remember that sensitive information like this can be very upsetting and hurtful. The Army policy is for casualty information to only be passed through official military channels until families can be notified. However, Thursday there were incidents in which soldiers in Iraq unofficially shared information with people on the home front. Rather than keep that information to themselves, those individuals passed it to others. This proved to be very hurtful. One family was given the incorrect information about their trooper, and when they received official information through military notification they were understandably even more upset than is normal.
It has been stressed over and over at how damaging rumors can be. Thursday was proof of the harmful effects. I implore everyone to remember this and to show restraint in the future. Even the most well intentioned efforts can backfire, as we saw Thursday. If in the future you receive unauthorized casualty or other information from deployed soldiers, please be mindful of the negative effects spreading that information can have.
Again, thank you for the support and prayers on behalf of our fallen and wounded soldiers and all our troopers in Iraq fighting for our freedom and the freedom of Iraq. They remain strong and focused and ready to do their duty. Our thoughts are constantly with them.”
However, Colonel Hickey and the command are at fault for their policy of sending casualty reports to military families that have not been cleared by DOD public affairs. We have on file over 21 email messages dealing specifically with immediate reports of killed and wounded in our regiment as they happen. How would you ladies and gentlemen of the Ohio Congressional delegation like to have a loved one serving a “combat” tour in Iraq and receive one of these emails:
04/17/05 Casualty in Regiment
04/29/05 Sabre Squadron Casualties
05/04/05 Confirmation of Casualty in Regiment
05/12/05 Funeral Attendance for Fallen Squadron Troopers
05/18/05 Fallen Sabre Soldier
05/23/05 Killed In Action in Regiment
05/24/05 Identification of Deceased Trooper
06/06/05 Casualties in Regiment
06/07/05 Killed In Action - Attachment to Regiment
Do you realize what effect this has overtime on a wife, mother or sweetheart waiting anxiously for their loved one to return home ALIVE AND WELL from Iraq? I have had to HIDE all these email message from my wife, because THEY ARE INDECENT.
At no time in our nation’s military history has a commander in the field sent notifications of casualties to anyone EXCEPT the immediate family concerned and the Department of Defense (or War Department).
Lastly, our son’s unit it not only screwing up all the above but “trying to report the news as well. Ladies and Gentlemen of Congress you and “this President” have gotten America’s Military Families under SIEGE, not by the terrorists, not by the insurgents, BUT BY OUR OWN GOVERNMENT. You have our own military leaders turning Military Families against the mainstream media (a free press) and anyone else who does not support “this administrations” policies in Iraq AND THAT IS NOT PATRIOTIC THAT IS ABUSE OF POWER. This unit commander is abusing his power and authority. Which raises the question how many other military commanders in George W. Bush’s chain of command are doing the same?
In an email message Update from Colonel Hickey May 28, “It has come to my attention that family members are seeing some inaccurate reporting about the situation in Tall Afar, Iraq. It is being broadcast through the media that Tall Afar is under insurgent control. This is far from the case. There are no American or other reporters in the area to accurately report the situation. Here is the situation as I know it.
The situation in Tall Afar is actually quite different than what you are seeing in the media. I am in downtown Tall Afar everyday and can see what is going on. In the last several days the squadron has had quite a few successful missions. The Iraqi Army and Fox Troop found and destroyed a large ammunition cache and simultaneously captured a few terrorists and seized two large quantities of weapons. The Iraqi Army and Grim troop captured a large number of terrorists. The Iraqi Army and Eagle Troop found and destroyed a large ammunition cache. The Iraqi Army and Heavy Company captured terrorists who emplace IEDs. Outlaw, our great air cav troop, played a huge part in all these missions. Lion Battery is both providing fire support and conducting vital reconnaissance missions. Rattler Troop, of course, plays a critical role supporting and command and controlling everything the squadron does. Although Sapper is not with Sabre, they are doing a fantastic job conducting border security with Tiger Squadron and conducting security and reconnaissance operations with Thunder Squadron south of Baghdad. Meanwhile, we have held numerous meetings in Tall Afar with the Mayor and city council to assist them in working their priorities of improving the infrastructure of the city. The attitude of the good people in Tall Afar, which is the vast majority, is very positive towards Sabre Squadron. They appreciate us going after the terrorists and only want to live in an environment of peace and security. All of our units are conducting operations with the Iraqi Army and we are getting to know and respect each other. These Iraqi Soldiers are tough and courageous and are getting better everyday. We are working to get some American reporters into the area so they can report firsthand.”
This Sunday is Father’s Day, and this Army Dad is among a growing number of Ohio Moms and Dads outraged that their sons and daughters are still fighting a war of choice, where we sent our young people into harm’s way without leveling with the American people about the purpose of the war, without intelligence about what they were going to confront, without the equipment to protect them, and without a plan of what would happen after the fall of Baghdad.
The defense appropriations bill that will be taken up TODAY to call for another $45 billion for the war in Iraq in addition to the hundreds of billions of dollars already appropriated for that war. This money has been spent in Iraq without question, without accountability, and without success.
We in Ohio have formed Americans for Shared Sacrifice http://americansforsharedsacrifice.org/ with over a thousand interested members intending to “question” those running for local, state, and national office why the Ohio Governor, State Legislature, and Adjutant General needs near 20 million dollars in the current Ohio state budget for what has been identified as primarily “construction projects” for National Guard Bases during a period when DOD is closing bases (BRAC) to save money and streamline our forces? How much is Ohio’s bill for the War in Iraq? It is time for Ohio to stop ignoring the questions too!
Congresswomen Pelosi will be offering an amendment to the national defense appropriations bill that will say to the President: ‘Within 30 days of the enactment of this legislation, Congress expects an accounting from you as to what the strategy for success is. What are the security and political measures that you are putting forth that can lead us to bring our troops home?’
We at Americans for Shared Sacrifice ask that the Ohio Congressional delegation not be obstructionists to accountability to Congress, and therefore to the American people and people of Ohio for a timetable for a strategy of success. We too are passionately concerned about family values, and both the Ohio state and national budget, because it is our loved ones who are being asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, pay the ultimate COSTS.
We are ignoring great needs in our country, and OHIO – needs of our children, needs for health care, and needs for seniors because of misplaced priorities on the part of the Congress and “this administration,“ - tax cuts at the high end, a war without accountability. When during our nation’s history has America gone to war without raising taxes to pay for it? We are even mortgaging our grand-children’s future to pay for a questionable war. This is something which the Johnson and Nixon administration didn’t even screw up in Vietnam.
We ask you to go to the floor on this Department of Defense bill and make it a turning point, not in a partisan way, but in a bipartisan way, that the Congress will speak with one voice and say to the President: ‘You took us into war without allowing any questions, without giving any real information, and now more than two years later, we need some answers.’
This is a tremendous issue in our country. Hopefully, we will have bipartisan consensus on how we can have a strategy for success, and you will be hearing much more from Americans for Shared Sacrifice in OHIO about our dismay at the approach in Iraq that the Administration is taking.
Our motto is either provide an exit strategy for success in Iraq or BRING ON THE DRAFT!
Major Robert L. & Nanako K. Hanafin
USAF-Retired (SGT, U.S. Army 69-76)
3220 Felton Drive
Beavercreek, Ohio 45431
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