Family of fallen soldier petitions top general for war policy changes


QUEENSBURY — The father of a slain local soldier has taken public a message about the war’s rules of engagement.

William Osborn, the father of Spc. Benjamin Osborn, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 15, sent a letter to Gen. David Petraeus on Sunday asking him to change rules which he said tie soldiers’ hands.

“Our son, SPC 4 Benjamin D. Osborn, volunteered to man the one heavy gun his unit had mounted on top of an MRAP vehicle,” the e-mail states. “Finally, ordered to fire, Ben was able to get off 10 rounds before falling silent.”

Four minutes after Osborn sent the e-mail, Petraeus responded with condolences for the parents and asked them to listen to remarks he’ll make at a Senate confirmation hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, where he planned to address the issue.

Petraeus is to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday as part of the process to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. President Obama opted to replace McChrystal last week.

“I will note that commanders have a moral imperative to ensure that we provide every possible element of support to our troopers when they get into a tight spot,” Petraeus’s e-mail states. “And I will ensure that we meet that imperative if I am confirmed to command ISAF in Afghanistan.”

On Monday morning, William Osborn appeared on the Fox News cable channel to deliver the same message and said troops need to be empowered to use force when they deem it necessary.

The current rules of engagement call for firing only after being fired upon, Osborn said, and that rule is what led to the death of his son.

“We have the greatest fighting force in the world with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man,” Osborn’s e-mail to Petraeus stated. “We spend enormous resources to teach, train and prepare our fighting men and women for battle; then send them out with one hand tied behind their backs.”

The rules of engagement are part of a war strategy referred to as counter-insurgency, where troops try to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan population.

On Thursday morning, the day his son was laid to rest at the Saratoga National Cemetery, Osborn compared the war in Afghanistan to Vietnam and said winning the hearts of the Afghan people can’t be done until the war is won.

“It has to change, or we’re going to lose,” he said, “and in the process of losing, more families are going to go through what we’re going through, and that’s not right.”

After his appearance on national television on Monday morning, Osborn said the experience felt like a whirlwind. The cable channel sent a car to pick the parents up at around 1:30 a.m. and whisked them to New York City.

“I don’t even remember what was said,” he said on Monday afternoon. “I hope I did some good to the cause.”

Cyndie Wade, a friend of the Osborn family who said a contact she knows helped Osborn get on the national cable network, sent an e-mail to NBC on Monday and said she is working to get the parents to appear on MSNBC and the Today Show.

“For whatever reason, my feelings seem to have caught on with some people,” Osborn said. “It’s too late for my son, but if this could help the men and women out there now, this is Ben’s legacy. It’s about Ben and the men that he fought with over there. They just deserve a lot better than what they’re getting.”

The Prisoner of Gen. Petraeus

Townhall – Pat Buchanan

President Obama is being hailed for toughness in his firing of Gen. McChrystal and brilliance in his replacing him as Afghan field commander with Gen. David Petraeus, who managed the George W. Bush “surge” in Iraq that saved this nation from an ignominious defeat.

Herewith, a dissent.

By firing a fighting general, beloved of his troops, Obama just took upon himself full responsibility for the McChrystal Plan. The general is off the hook.

As of now, the plan is not succeeding. And given the inability of Kabul to deliver the “government in a box” to Marja, after Marines supposedly de-Talibanized the town, the McChrystal Plan is failing. The Battle of Kandahar has not yet begun, though the June D-Day has come and gone.

Should we be in this same bloody stalemate in December, Obama will be blamed for having fired his field commander who devised his battle plan, and was carrying it out, over some stupid insults from staff officers to some counterculture magazine.

More critically, Obama just made himself hostage to a savvy general who is said to dream of one day holding Obama’s office.

Consider the box Obama just put himself in.

In 2009, he sacked Gen. David McKiernan and replaced him with his own man, Gen. McChrystal. Now, he has sacked McChrystal and replaced him with Petraeus.

The former community organizer and acolyte of Saul Alinsky cannot now possibly fire the most popular and successful general in the U.S. Army, who accepted a demotion to take command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, without a firestorm that would consume his presidency.

If Obama has not noticed, the neocons, who want a “long war” in the Islamic world and a new war with Iran, are celebrating the Petraeus appointment with far greater unanimity than Obama’s own staff…

What the McChrystal incident tells us about US


What was McChrystal guilty of? Insubordination?

It seems I’m one of the few Americans appalled at the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal last week. In a rare moment of unity, pundits on both the Left and Right supported President Barack Obama’s relieving him of his command. The arguments were uniform (no pun intended): If the president hadn’t fired McChrystal, it would have eroded civilian authority over the military….

McChrystal’s comments showed a lack of professionalism and conduct unbecoming an officer…. He insulted our allies, etc, etc.

But put aside the hysteria and think soberly for a moment. What was McChrystal guilty of? Insubordination?

… McChrystal’s error was to blow off steam and allow his subordinates to grumble about their civilian overlords – which one assumes is pretty standard fare in military circles – in the presence of a journalist. But anyone who has been the subject of a lengthy magazine profile knows how easy it is to simply forget that off-the-cuff remarks are on the record, especially when you have a million more important things to worry about.

Vice President Joe Biden is known to be gaffe-prone, and recently dropped the f-bomb into a live microphone at Obama’s signing of the health-care bill. Politicians are human. So are generals, as are their staffs. You don’t destroy the career and reputation of a heroic officer who has served his country valiantly for three decades because a journalist decides to publish private banter.

BUT IT’S not the general that is mostly on my mind, it’s American values. Obama said he had to fire the general to bolster civilian control over the military, which conjured up images of McChrystal poised to “cross the Rubicon” and storm Washington. But the president could better have used the incident to teach the American people about the importance of gratitude – a value sorely lacking in our democracy.

He could have told the country that McChrystal screwed up; a general has to be measured and in control. But given the fact that this was just a silly magazine article and the country owes McChrystal a tremendous debt for three decades of service – especially as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, which captured Saddam Hussein and killed al-Qaida Iraq head Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – he was going to overlook the incident and accept the general’s public apology…

McChrystal to retire from Army

Related Previous Posts:

General McChrystal’s Wrong-Headed Rules Of Engagement (ROE) – “Déjà Vu All Over Again”

Afghanistan: Unity Of Command, The Hazaras, And Poppy Fields

Welcome Home: Job Well Done…

Related Links:

STRATFOR: The 30-Year War in Afghanistan

NY Times: Quest to Neutralize Afghan Militants Is Showing Glimpses of Success, NATO Says

HotAir: Pelosi warns: Expect a “serious drawdown” in Afghanistan next year