A soldier’s letter 5

On August 2, 2012, Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton was killed when he stepped on an IED while patrolling across a mine-field in Afghanistan.

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton with his wife, Sarah

Diana West writes at Radical Islam:

Below is an extraordinary, heart-stopping and historic letter. It is a letter SSG Matthew Sitton sent to U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young after his commanders in Afghanistan told him to “quit whining” about orders to lead patrols without objective “through, for lack of a better term, basically a mine field on a daily basis,” as Sitton wrote.

Twice daily basis, in fact. On August 2, 2012, Sitton and another U.S. soldier were killed in one the IED-riddled field he spoke of. …

It is time for Sitton’s commanders and their commanders and on up the chain of command to be questioned … about who devised and signed off on this morally and militarily bankrupt doctrine — counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy — that patriots such as Matthew Sitton have paid for with their lives.

It is time for Generals Petraeus, McChrystal, Allen, Dempsey, Admiral Mullen and many more to face us and explain. It is also time for former President Bush and his advisors and President Obama and his advisors to answer for the failure of their misbegotten and irresponsible policy of nation-building in the Islamic world, which COIN supports.

Here is the letter in full:

Sir,

Hello my name is SSG Matthew Sitton. I am in the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Ft. Bragg, NC. I am currently deployed with the 4th Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. I am writing you because I am concerned for the safety of my soldiers. This is my 3rd combat tour to Afghanistan, so I have seen the transition in Rules of Engagement and Overall Tactics over the past 6 years.

I am only writing this email because I feel myself and my soldiers are being put into unnecessary positions where harm and danger are imminent. I know the threat of casualties in war and am totally on board with sacrifice for my country, but what I don’t agree with is the chain of command making us walk through, for lack of a better term, basically a mine field on a daily basis.

I am in a platoon of 25 soldiers. We are operating at a tempo that is set for a full 35-40 man infantry platoon. We have been mandated to patrol twice daily for 2-4 hours each patrol on top of guarding our FOB [Forward Operating Base] and conducting routine maintenance of our equipment.

There is no endstate or purpose for the patrols given to us from our higher chain of command, only that we will be out for a certain time standard.

I am all for getting on the ground and fighting for my country when I know there is a desired endstate, and we have clear guidance of what needs to be done. But when we are told basically to just walk around for a certain amount of time, it doesn’t sit well with me.

As a Brigade, we are averaging at a minimum an amputee a day from our soldiers because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives. Not to mention that the operation tempo that every solider is on leaves little to no time for rest and refit.

The moral and alertness levels on our patrol are low and it is causing casualties left and right.

Here is an example of how bad things have gotten. Our small FOB was flooded accidentally by a local early one morning a few days ago. He was watering his fields and the dam he had broke and water came flooding into our living area.

Since our FOB does not have any portable bathrooms, we had to dig a hole in the ground where soldiers could use the bathroom. That also got flooded and contaminated all the water that later soaked every soldier and his gear.

Instead of returning to base and cleaning up, our chain of command was so set on us meeting the brigade commanders 2 patrols a day guidance that they made us move outside the flooded FOB and conduct our patrols soaked in urine.

That is just one single instance of the unsatisfactory situations that our chain of command has put us in. At least three of my soldiers have gotten sick since that incident and taken away from our combat power because of their illness caused by unhealthy conditions.

I understand that as a commander you are to follow the orders of those appointed over you, however there needs to be a time where the wellness of your soldiers needs to take priority over walking around in fields for hours a day for no rhyme or reason, but only to meet the Brigade Commanders guidance of you to conduct so many patrols for such an allotted time.

I’m concerned about the well being of my soldiers and have tried to voice my opinion through the proper channels of my own chain of command only to be turned away and told that I need to stop complaining.

It is my responsibility to take care of my soldiers, and there is only so much I can do with that little bit of rank I have. My guys would fight by my side and have my back in any condition, and I owe it to them to have their best interest in mind.

I know they would, and I certainly would appreciate it if there was something that you could do to help us out. I just want to return my guys home to their families healthy. I apologize for taking your time like this Sir, and I do appreciate what you do for us.

I was told to contact you by my grandmMother [name blacked out] who said that you had helped her son (my uncle) [name blacked out] many years ago. He also was serving in the military at the time. Thank you again for allowing soldiers like me to voice their opinion. If anything please pray for us over hear. God bless.

Very respectfully,

SSG Matthew Sitton

  • C. Gee

    This outrage is a direct result of Obama’s giving a date of military withdrawal. A stupid, treacherous, and lethal political expedient. It amounts to a unilateral surrender. It turned American and allied soldiers into sitting ducks. It invited stealth insurgency. The enemy can bide its time, picking off soldiers where opportunity arises. Why did the brass allow the timetable to stand ? Why were there not resignations by generals over this issue? Has the army become just another government agency where job security (“career”) is the institutional goal? And one might have thought that the army would understand the nature of its predicament as sitting ducks and issue operational orders responsive to the conditions on the ground. Clockwork patrols of the same area – a known minefield! – is not COIN. It is bureaucratic idiocy – a mindless, lethal exercise. Thumb-twiddling, but costing lives.

  • liz

    A tragic waste of life, for no good reason. And not just by accident, but by standard procedure.
    With policies like this and incompetent leftist morons in charge throughout the chain of command, its clear that it was never a question of IF Benghazi would happen, it was just a matter of WHEN.

  • Ron G

    This is Vietnam all over again. The commanders simply want to meet certain numbers assigned to them, regardless of the operational usefulness, and are willing to send our men into the meat grinder to meet those numbers.

    • Jack

      I think that all high ranking offices must toe the Leftist line or they will lose their careers. Even if they are nominally “Conservatives” (like Patreus) they must swear allegiance to what Diana West calls the see-no-Islam foreign policy. Our generals are useless in one sense. None of them will state what needs to be said, namely that Islam itself is the problem and that the Islamic world is our enemy. The system is basically rigged in favor of the Left. And the mainstream Conservatives are really on their side too. Its unbelievable how dominant modern liberalism is at this moment. They are a juggernaut.

      • Ron G

        No question you are correct. That certainly is the big-picture problem. What really stuck out in my mind though was the insistence on the twice a day patrol rule. It just really reminded me of certain similar rules in Vietnam for senseless patrols, and body counts for the nightly news. There’s no strategic advantage, just bodies. Or like the British and French in WWI just blindly attacking trenches even after it was obvious that machine guns had changed everything. But you are correct: if you can’t even name it, you certainly cannot fight it.