I have never felt so compelled to respond to an article as I do after reading the email about the treatment of soldiers the “leadership” of Fort Carson, Colo., sent (“ ‘Teaching these kinds of soldiers a lesson,’ ” article, Nov. 16). The behavior of the senior leaders there is nothing short of abysmal. Their actions clearly state they do not have the ability to treat soldiers in a fair and compassionate manner. After the debacle at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, you would think leaders would have learned what needs to be done in dealing with soldiers wounded and/or suffering from battle injuries.
To have a general officer (Brig. Gen. James H. Doty) short-circuit the medical review process as well as overrule the recommendations of competent medical authority speaks volumes about his fitness to lead. He is an embarrassment to the Army and Army Reserve. His actions clearly ran contrary to Army regulations and Army policy. Every soldier who was adversely affected by his decisions should be returned to active duty with repayment of all lost pay and allowances. Their cases need to be heard and adjudicated by proper authorities, which in this case is neither Doty nor anyone associated with the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Carson.
Finally, if there is a case or cases that demand the intervention and investigation by Congress, this is it. The chief of staff of the Army should be demanding answers from Doty, and every officer who supported this policy needs to be investigated.
Doty should be investigated for possible violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and possibly charged. As a minimum, he should be immediately placed on the retired list with a letter of reprimand placed in his file.
Lt. Col. Mark S. Kelley (retired)
Softer soldiers hurt mission
Sadly we are at a point where soldiers are no longer seen as active agents of our country’s defense, but rather as civilians in uniforms. This perception is evident in our referring to the capture of a grown man with several hundred rounds of ammunition and an automatic rifle as a “kidnapping,” the current terminology for the capture of a soldier by the media and the chain of command (threat briefings in theater now refer to “kidnappings” of soldiers). Were such an event to take place under any other circumstances than a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan it would be a curious event certainly not called a “kidnapping.”
The multipage story in the Nov. 16 Stars and Stripes of drug-using veterans being summarily dismissed from service (“ ‘Teaching these kinds of soldiers a lesson.’ ”), as is the purview of the commander responsible for such decisions, is indicative of the same point of view. The policy regarding drug use and consequences of violating it are known by every soldier. The degree of punishment is decided by the commander based on his evaluation of the situation and the soldier, necessitating that each case has a distinct outcome. Having a valorous award or close call during a previous deployment does not earn a soldier a one-time-only cocaine pass. Nor can the Army afford to keep soldiers who are a liability while we are trying to field troops who can deploy, fight and win.
Sadly, the desire to make the Army a friendly and inclusive place most likely resulted in an increase of these sometime-unavoidable situations. We no longer conduct an indoctrination period in basic combat training. We do not focus on physically demanding punishment. PT is curtailed by division command to prevent heatstroke. This is also the prerogative of the commander, and our current command culture has created the second order effect of less stress-tolerant and stress-inoculated soldiers who are less disciplined and more likely to become post-traumatic stress disorder casualties — not victims.
The Army owes its soldiers good leadership, not benefits. It owes the soldiers good training, not pity.
The soldiers owe the Army obedient service, even to death — because that is the oath every soldier takes. Anything less than that is dereliction and cowardice; to codify such conduct by excusing it is despicable and dangerous.
First Lt. Brian Fitzgerald
Camp Liberty, Iraq