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Our View: Protect our American servicemen

Posted: December 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.

The death of Army Spc. Rudy Acosta and another American soldier at the hands of a man hired to protect our troops in Afghanistan was an appalling development that rightly prompted an immediate Army investigation.

The investigator’s report, turned in less than a month after the March 19 bloodbath, noted specific flaws in the system and offered specific recommendations for correction.

So far, so good. We are encouraged by the Army’s prompt and appropriate response and thoughtful analysis.

From there, the entire effort to ensure the safety of soldiers who Americans send to war seems to have devolved into a series of blunders worthy of a Laurel and Hardy clip, not the most sophisticated armed forces on the globe.

Although the grieving family of Acosta asked for an investigation into the shooting and the assurance that measures were being taken to prevent such a tragedy in the future; although the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee asked for an investigation and details about future preventive actions; although the commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force assured the chairman that an investigation was under way and preventive measures would be taken; although the secretary of the Army assured the chairman such a review was under way, the investigation results were not made public for eight months. Were they intentionally withheld or were they simply moldering in some file drawer or collecting dust on a high shelf?

Congress, which funds the war in Afghanistan, held a hearing in September on the situation of contracted workers hired to protect American troops, apparently completely unaware of the investigation and its conclusions.

The House Armed Services Committee chairman, Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, received the report eight months after it was completed with no explanation for the delay.

There remains no indication whether any of the recommendations made by the investigating officer have been carried out in the field.

The Army’s response to the inexplicable delay: We’ll investigate it.

Pardon us if we do not find that reassuring.

We understand that details about security measures might be classified and thus should not be released to the public.

But we cannot understand how our armed forces can completely ignore the requests of those civilians we elected to oversee them.

And we cannot understand how our armed forces can, with good conscience, expect to send our soldiers to war to protect American interests and then shelve their own recommendations to assure the soldiers’ safety.

We request a public accounting from the Army as to actions taken on its own investigating officer’s recommendations to ensure the safety of troops — as much as it can do so without violating security.

We want to know if more Americans died at the hands of hired security troops after Acosta and Sgt. Donald Mickler lost their lives in March.

And we ask that a detailed accounting go to those congressional members elected to oversee the armed forces.

Rudy Acosta’s family — and all Americans — deserve nothing less.


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