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The Military View Column: It isn’t a Game.

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By Heath resident and retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Hogan.

Sergeant Ben Weston, grandson of Joann Claycomb of Royse City and son of Jan and Ben Weston, formerly of Rockwall, is a Squad Leader in Company C, 1-17th Infantry, 5th Stryker Brigade, based in Fort Lewis, Washington.

But today, after serving a tour in Iraq, he is stationed in southern Afghanistan.

On a typical day, October 27, 2009, Sergeant Weston, a Squad Leader responsible for himself and seven other soldiers, is in his Stryker vehicle leading a convoy of three other Strykers as they patrol outside their Forward Operating Base looking for insurgent Taliban.

He and all of the other Soldiers in his unit are seeing more and more IED devices employed by the insurgents to kill and maim US personnel, so they are especially vigilant as they patrol. They also are concerned about their protection in the Stryker vehicles they ride as they have recently been told to remove the “bird cage” that surrounds the vehicle.

This metal “cage” was installed on all of the Strykers after they were manufactured to provide a sort of protection from RPG rounds fired at the vehicle. The theory being the rounds would hit the “bird cage” and explode before going through the thin skin of the Stryker. The “cage” also added a degree of stability to the vehicle that would prevent the Stryker from turning over if hit.

Ben and his men were told removal of the “cage” was being done to “prevent damage to Afghan houses as they moved through the narrow streets in the villages.” As you can expect, the men of Ben’s squad were not happy about this action.

On October 27, Ben and his fellow Soldiers were patrolling off the roadways to avoid the IEDs. Down in a dried up riverbed, the vehicles were following one behind the other. Ben and his squad in their vehicle had just gone through a choke point on the riverbed and were waiting 100 yards ahead for the next vehicle from a sister platoon to clear the point so they could proceed up the river.

As the vehicle entered the choke point, it also had to go up a small rise in the ground. Just as it started up, a command-detonated 2000 pound IED made up of ammonia nitrate was detonated right under the vehicle.

As Ben said, “I saw the Stryker go up in the air, heard the explosion, and then saw the vehicle falling. Both the bottom and the top of the vehicle had been totally destroyed by the blast and you could see clear through it.” Seven of the men in the Platoon were killed in the explosion, along with one Afghan interpreter.

Immediately after the detonation, the Taliban opened up with small arms fire from their ambush position. Ben said they were able to hold them off until the helicopter air support arrived and drove the Taliban away.

Since arriving in Afghanistan in July, eleven of the forty men in Ben’s sister platoon have been killed. Fifty-eight Americans were killed in Afghanistan in October.

Where are you on your decision- making, Mr. President? Any half decent Army officer could have made that decision on troop strength a week after it was presented to him. So far you have had the issue to you since August and still no decision. How many more will have to die while you delay and delay. Either make a decision or let’s get out now!

Jerry Hogan is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel who volunteers to write these articles. He can be reached at jerryhogan@sbcglobal.net or 214-394-4033

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1 Response for “The Military View Column: It isn’t a Game.”

  1. rocco says:

    FINALLY Jerry agrees with the rest of America—”let’s get out now!”. Call you congressman and senator let them know we’ve had enough baseless war for the last 8 years….bring the troops home now!

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