Army edits its history of the deadly battle of Wanat

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by bruno, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...2804334.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009100401053

    I am not sure what truly happened at Wanat as I was neither there nor have reviewed the entire investigation, but Gen Mattis and Gen Petraeous directed and reviewed the original investigation and found sufficient cause to issue Letters of Reprimand to the Battalion and Brigade Commander for failure to supervise and support the platoon in contact. I understand and somewhat sympathize with the "chilling effect" argument, yet from what I have read, there were some glaring errors in the placement of the OP and the plans to react and support in the case of an all out assault against it- failures which seem to me, as they apparently did to Gen Petraeous, to be largely failures of the chain of command.

     
  2. linkgmr

    linkgmr Old Grad

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    Wait what? Aren't we taught that the commission imposes "total accountability and unlimited liability"?
    I don't remember there being an asterisk there specifically absolving senior officers.
     
  3. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Bruno, I'm a simple Grunt. I read the article and all I get out of it was: The 1st LT. is dead, and was wrong with his placement of the OP...and a couple of commanders didn't follow up and will be passed over? What are "failures of the chain of command", and why aren't their names mentioned?
     
  4. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Maximus- This platoon was really chewed up- about 75% of the soldiers on the COP were wounded including 9 KIA. From what I have read (which may or may not be accurate), the issues that caused the Chain of Command to get reprimanded in the original report included:
    poor location of the COP to begin with. They basically had a reinforced platoon building a COP outside of Fire Support range with no means of rapid ground reinforcement.
    A lack of Class 4 engineering materials to construct a defensive perimeter and cover. They very little earth moving/handling equipment so they were filling the HESCO barriers by hand, plus limited Water availability.
    Insufficient support with Recon assets that could have warned of an impending attack with minimal poorly placed OPs out that would have warned of an attack. Finally, I think that they were engaged a couple of weeks earlier in air strike that killed a number of civilians during an operation that poisoned the local populace and was counter to the COIN doctrine that they were trying to implement at the time.
    I'm not sure what happened and how much this was a failure of the Chain of Command and I have not seen the specific findings that led to the disciplinary actions,- but I know that Gen Mattis and Gen Petraeous found some significant failures of the Chain of Command and neither of them are exactly unknown quantities in terms of their understanding of the battlefield and the dynamics on the field so reversing their decision causes me some real concern about leadership accountability. the counter concern is of course that not every failed operation is attributable to failures in commandand holding commanders liable could certainly leave them risk averse in performing the mission. It's a fine line to walk.
    Tom Ricks did a really indepth series on this a year ago that you can find at the link below. It's a 7 part series so when you get to the "Read on box" click on the next bullet).
    Also the Army Combat Studies Institute published a really thorough history of the battle last year - it's long but it tells you a lot about Afghanistan.
    http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/post...han_battle_what_happened_at_wanat_last_july_i


    http://smallwarsjournal.com/documents/csistudywanat.pdf
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  5. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Thanks Bruno, it was the fine line you mentioned that had me wondering.
     

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