Skip to comments.Stunning Letter: Infantry Colonel Communiqué to Secretary of the Army (MUST READ)
Posted on 10/10/2012 10:40:01 AM PDT by FreedomPoster
This is the most stunning and forceful letter I have read from the Afghanistan war. It was written in 2010 from Afghanistan by Colonel Harry Tunnell, the Brigade Commander of 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
After this letter, Colonel Tunnell was investigated and the normal smear campaign unfolded. Having been embedded with his Brigade in 2010, it became obvious that they were put into a no-win situation, with troops spread over several provinces in Afghanistan.
Mods, Michael Yon is the preeminent war correspondent of this era, the Ernie Pyle of our time. Please do not move this to Bloggers.
Yon is one of three places I contribute to online, and FR is one of the other two.
After finding out that the inscription on 0bama’s ring reads ‘There is no God but Allah’, I can understand why we’ve been doomed to fail in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, etc, by HUSSEIN 0bama.
My brother-in-law did two tours. His comment was that regardless of how well we prosecuted the war (and he is not a fan of the way it has been handled) nothing, absolutely nothing is going to change on the ground. They are living in medieval times, with a medieval mindset and a pre-medieval religion and most do not want change.
Yes, that ring makes sense of so much. This should be headline news in the country but of course most will never hear of it. I have emailed the info out.
Will send to Drudge also.
Colonel Tunnell is truly a courageous soldier. He placed his concerns about his troops ahead of his own career. Just wonder how many Navy commanders have the same concerns but have not written to the Secretary of the Navy. Our big blue water capital ships are in the narrow confines of the Persian Gulf and are very vulnerable to the Chinese shore to ship missiles that have been supplied to Iran. There is no strategic reason to put those big carriers in the Gulf.
It is more and more obvious that we should have left immediately after the punitive expedition phase and not ever started the meals on wheels phase. So in the 2003 +/- time frame.
Not so stunning as pitiful.
The very idea that women could be integrated into Afhan forces is stupid beyond the pale. Educated fools who would propose to impose our social constructions on a relic civilization, if it can be called a civilization, is just plain stupid. Not ignorant, STUPID.
I weep for our troops.
Yep, in Afghanistan there is no "nationality" as we know it. Most of the stone-age people who live there know, in general terms, only the boundaries of their own villages - - their own worlds. They never heard of "Afghanistan" and really couldn't care less.
Bingo. We couldn't even threaten these guys with "bombing them back to the Stone Age." They wouldn't notice the difference.
(( ping ))
“There is no strategic reason to put those big carriers in the Gulf.”
They should be off the coast of Israel with flyover permission...
But wait....that might hurt the Iranians feelings...forget that....
Yes, there is such a thing as "malicious stupidity", and American liberals provide the audio-visual aid.
You CAN change medieval mindsets. You just have to medieval methods. I just don’ think we’re willing to do it...
Is this true?
There was a lengthy article in World Net Daily yesterday on the subject.
A regular Hatfield and McCoy feudal life.....where no one really knows why they fight, just that it is ......
I got very mixed signals regarding Tunnell before, during, and after his deployment. There were definitely issues within his brigade, but I don’t know to whom they ought rightly to be attributed.
I have sent the letter to several who ought to know the real scoop. I’ll wait to see what they have to say before commenting further.
BTW, I believe that Yon has gone around the bend and is spending all of his time in his hotel room in Bangkok chasing old demons.
COL Tunnell’s letter seems right on the mark and is especially informative about Helmand Province, the site of most of the losses for the OK ARNG 45th IN Bde in their recent deployment. The colonel’s summary of the failings of allies, as well as the COIN strategy, blows away the BS that passes for reporting these days.
As a former Field Artillery officer, I was also gratified to see him note the performance of FA personnel when placed in jobs other than putting steel on a target to take out the enemy. This has been a significant concern of mine where people are misused and mal-assigned away from their training or expertise, FA or not.
A book from Slate.com was excerpted this summer and it had some info on COL Tunnell. The book, apparently written by an Indian (dot, not feathers), is not kind to the brigade commander on his tactics. It does make for a good read because it fills in some areas only brushed in the colonel’s PDF letter. The link to the excerpt article is below:
Actually, most of the people who live in the tribal villages are little more than observers, watching strange, well-equipped forces from distant foreign lands do battle against insurgent forces from other, nearby foreign lands. The natives do whatever they have to to stay alive. They have absolutely no allegiance to either side. Their only goal is survival, and it is all they have known since the Russians invaded in 1980.
It’s time to execute members of the Taliban and then stuff their mouths full of bacon.
Oh my. I read the whole letter. I can understand how the Colonel’s brutally-frank letter could be career-ending, particularly when he was politically-incorrect enough to point out the widespread homosexuality and pedophilia of the Afghan forces.
I'm not completely sure that we should. Appropriate and undoubtable retaliation for wrongs is one thing, but busting heads to persuade them to be more "democratic" ain't going to work.
Oh yeah, I meant to highlight that, and then managed to not do it when posting. Page 5, at the bottom. I OCRed the document, it came through pretty well. From the letter:
d. Aberrant sexual behavior is acceptable. Considering the misogynistic culture that is common one should not be surprised that most men who join the security forces will have had limited interaction with women - a recruit may have never been alone with a woman who is not a relative. There is an acceptance of pedophilia that is wide spread and boys are sometimes kidnapped. Leaders have been known to sexually assault male subordinates. Even if sexual activity between males is consensual it has implications for good order and discipline which is why, in many arnies, fraternization is not allowed.
It worked fairly well for the Germans and Japanese. Of course, they had a history of civilization and learning. So I don’t think it will work in Afghanistan, just pointing out that “busting heads to persuade them to be more ‘democratic’” has worked in the past.
Thanks for the ping. Will comment after work. There’s a lot of missing backstory here.
FYI—COL Tunnell was my Brigade Commander in Afghanistan while I was on Brigade staff.
Who said anything about being democratic?
Democracy is a really, really bad idea - our own field manuals said so until the 1930s (Hmmm... I wonder what changed?). Even Representative Republics are hard to do - look at what is happening to ours.
Folks like Afghanis, Iraqis, Syrians, Egyptians, etc. need authoritarian governments that can, and WILL bust heads if the herd gets out of line. They also need leaders who can pull an orderly transfer of power even in the face of civil unrest. What they don’t need is “democracy.”
Actually, you need stuff their mouths full of bacon BEFORE you execute them.
IIRC, there is a fatwa saying that, upon death, a martyr is transported directly paradise and nothing done to his body after death will affect this.
So bacon first, then bullet.
Why should they change? It is all about gender apartheid. If your ‘religion’ assures you that you can marry 15 year old girls until you’re 80 and treat your wife like a servant and like property-of course you don’t want anything to change.
To read your comments later.
The Army doesn’t want smart Officers, they want obedient Officers. If General Petraeus was so good, why are we still in Afghanistan? Why is Iraq falling apart again? Petraeus was real good at getting promoted and lining himself up for a good job once he got out of the Army. As the head of the CIA, shouldn’t they have heard something prior to the attack in Libya? 11 years in Afghanistan......2000 dead American Soldiers.....untold pain and misery for Soldiers, and families, as they have to keep deploying to wars that never end. Why are we paying these admirals and generals to lose? Why do we give these losers a retirement? For successfully losing? Goddamn, this fighting and killing and dieing is a hard business. Stay the fuck out of it if you can’t win in combat. I could care less about how fast you can run two miles or how great a PowerPoint presentation you can give. Can you build units that will fight, win and survive on the battlefield? That’s the only measure. The rest is bullshit. I knew we were in trouble when I saw the memorandum saying it was unfair to evaluate Officers based on their performance in combat. What the hell should their evaluations be based on? Oh, yeah, do they look fat in their photo? We have to hold these admirals and generals accountable. If we keep rewarding failure, we’re just going to get more failures. What if it was your kid dead? Do you think there’s no grief in a dead Soldier’s family? Goddamn, let’s start requiring civilians to go on casualty notifications. We’ll use the voter rolls just like jury duty with no exceptions or excuses. Then, maybe people would start to care when they see the widows and the crying kids. And yes, I swore. 2,000 dead Soldiers told me it was OK.
We are going to make new brown little Americans out of people who don’t even use BATHROOMS...? Oh, please...
Thanks for the ping.
Sometimes listening to Russia, as Clinton should have in the Balkans, can be a good thing.
I had the feeling reading through it that the bloke writing it didn't like our Army much, whether utilizing COIN or not. Then I got to the bottom:
Thank you for posting this. It needs to be seen by all. I knew much was not kosher there or in the Army but not to this extent. Knowing some current active duty Army folks, I’ve been told some things but not to this extent. Truly shocking and eerily reminiscent of RVN in some ways.
We simply never learn, or at least have not used the Principles of Mass since the end of WWII.
Some day one of the Neo-Cons will call for war and hopefully our Army says, "Not on your watch!"
We used to know that nation building does not work.
He’s pretty hard on the allies, isn’t he? If we don’t have reliable allies and we can’t trust the local forces then what are we doing there?
2) COL Tunnell was very nearly fired as the commander of 5-2 after the Brigade's NTC rotation just before their deployment. He was obsessed with implementing "counter-guerilla" as the Brigade's overarching strategy, focusing mostly on fire and maneuver at the expense of practically everything else. He was dismissive of COIN (counter-insurgency) as a strategy, as this letter clearly shows. While I won't go into the pros and cons of counter-guerilla and COIN, the idea that a BCT commander was going to shift all plans and operational resources of NATO in Regional Command-South (RC-S) to pursue his accepted doctrine from the 1970s was either completely idiotic or recklessly arrogant. Compound the issue with the fact that the commander of RC-S was a British one-star general who was practically a pacifist (remember the "courageous restraint" medal idea being floated around? That was his) and a tough operational environment was made even tougher due to the constant friction between Task Force Stryker and RC-S HQ.
3) Worst of all was 2-1 IN Battalion. While still in garrison, their Battalion Commander was fired essentially for driving his entire Battalion into the ground by working them relentlessly. COL Tunnell's "kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out" mentality was wholly embraced by that guy and he kept 2-1 training in the field constantly. With such a high deployment OPTEMPO, garrison, while important for training Soldiers, is also important for allowing some breathing room for Soldiers and their families. There was no breathing room in 2-1. They trained constantly and then they would deploy. Family time was minimal. He was the first Battalion Commander to sentence a Soldier to hard labor since Vietnam (I have to admit, I liked that one). Anyway, he was finally fired, but only after he was raising too many eyebrows from higher levels--COL Tunnell loved his aggression. Well, the aggression paid off with an aggressive unit.
However, there's a problem. From personal experience, aggression and COIN do not mix well. It's dull and frustrating. Very little actually happens when it comes to combat, especially in the Strykers since they're such a hard target. The enemy knows this and, aside from IED attacks, they tend to leave Strykers alone. This aggression and the idle hands led to rampant drug use and the formation of the infamous "Kill Team."
I know that some are loathe to bash a higher-up due to the terrible actions of low-level personnel whom he never even likely had contact with, but, especially in the Stryker Brigades, the joke goes that the chain of command is "God, the President, and the Brigade Commander." He fostered a certain climate, and it backfired considerably in the actions of some of his Soldiers. Added to the post-NTC misgivings about his command ability, it makes him look even worse.
4) This letter was written about a month after he changed command with COL Barry Huggins who was my Battalion Commander when I was in Iraq. COL Huggins is an outstanding officer and a generally brilliant guy. He was tasked with cleaning up the mess COL Tunnell left behind by implementing what amounted to a complete cultural shift of the newly re-flagged 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (5-2 SBCT no longer exists, an action that was supposedly unrelated to past sins). This letter was little more than an attempt at justification for his command climate. The actions of 5-2 are why COL Tunnell was hit with a "smear campaign." He never should have remained in command of a combat brigade, yet he was kept on for P.C. reasons (not an official statement, but I'm absolutely convinced that's why he wasn't fired).
Actually it once did - look at German and Japan.
Huge differences in the people, huge differences in how the war was fought (the people KNEW they had been BEATEN), huge differences in how the peace was administered (military proconsuls, not State Dept. fools).
Politically Correct war and “nation building” does not work.
/German/Germany/ , of course. I *hate* that
OK, that is a very interesting take on this situation by someone who was there, enough so that I’m going to ping my original ping list to your post.
See “To 44” at the bottom of this post, folks.
Now, regarding #1, given a temporary halt and the Brit 1-star in the area of operations, who even you seem to admit was a liability, I can see why Yon may have gotten the wrong idea.
I agree with you. IDF and CAS are notoriously (in general) difficult to get the OK for, and I even repeated, via Facebook, Yon's article. Then a buddy of mine who was just over there as an artillery officer cleared up the confusion. Yon was parroting the very limited view of a young private instead of verifying through people higher up the chain exactly what was happening.
I now know to be very skeptical of Yon's writings, and his championing of COL Tunnell further cements that in my mind.
I really appreciate your report, it completes matches other reports that I had gotten from soldiers and officers in the brigade, from sources at the NTC, and other sources at Lewis. But, since I was never on the ground with the brigade at Lewis, NTC, or in the box; I kept my mouth shut.
I took some of this very personally because I had a nephew in 1-5 IN (later 1/2 Cav) for two tours and I commanded Black Watch Company, 2-1 IN in 1971 in Vietnam. My sense was that command climate was a big problem, but I didn’t know the details.
Yon is quite another issue. He’s become a sad case of late, his only sources of income are the donations on his web site and they are drying up since he is reporting from a hotel room in Bangkok.
Thanks for the read it & weep.