By Mike Mount
The U.S. military’s action awards action is in ataxia and because of that the official Department of Aegis statistics do not accurately reflect those who accept been awarded action medals for courage in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to some associates of Congress.
One of those congressmen, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, is calling for the Army and added casework that accumulation advice for the Pentagon’s statistics to actual the dozens of disparities, because it is a “disservice” to those who accept fought bravely in action in Iraq and Afghanistan and in our accomplished wars and conflicts.
“There accept been repetitive and austere breakdowns at assorted levels of the awards process. Problems are arresting beyond all services, but, overall, there appears to be a abridgement of accuracy and alike accountability,” according to Hunter.
One of the problems, say those apart befitting an eye on the awards process, is the alterity in numbers of missing names in the Army’s accounting of Silver Star recipients.
More than 60 Army Silver Star awards are missing from the Pentagon’s official website, according to Hunter and Doug Sterner, a historian who has researched the badge annal of U.S. troops for years and put calm what abounding accept is the best authentic account of what troops accustomed what top awards for valor.
Sterner researched the annal for years on his own and appear a website with his findings. He was again assassin by the Aggressive Times newspapers to abbey his account for that company.
Sterner says that there are additionally at atomic two missing names on the Pentagon’s website, which lists the official statistics, involving one Army Distinguished Service Cross and one Navy Cross, the additional accomplished accolade for courage in combat.
“We charge to appropriately bethink those who died heroically,” Sterner said.
The Department of Defense’s valor.defense.gov website database was accustomed beforehand this year to acquiesce the accessible to see whether a actuality clearly accustomed a specific accolade for backbone in combat, in an accomplishment to deflate individuals who falsely affirmation they accept accustomed an award.
The website lists the names of those who accept accustomed the Badge of Honor, the accomplished accolade for backbone in combat; the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy and Air Force crosses, which are the additional accomplished accolade for action valor, and the Silver Star, the third accomplished accolade for backbone in combat.
The website lists alone those awarded action medals from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The Army thoroughly and consistently reviews the top three (Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and Silver Star) backbone awards above-mentioned to advertisement to ensure that all Soldiers listed on the DoD Backbone Accolade Website accept been absolute as accolade recipients,” Army agent Maj. Justin Platt said in a accounting statement.
“The Army’s backbone awards action is a time-tested operation which ensures our Soldiers are appropriately accustomed for their heroics. Leaders at all levels are empowered to acclaim admirable Soldiers for adventurous awards and committed to see their sacrifices honored,” Platt added,
The Pentagon has said that the account of names on the DoD website is provided by the alone casework that advance their alone awards records. Pentagon admiral accept additionally said the account of names will never be complete for a brace of reasons.
“Some awards won’t be acquaint for aegis reasons, and aggressive associates may appeal their names be removed, the account will be incomplete,” says Eileen Lainez, a backer for the Department of Defense.
See: Did Army accolade Silver Stars afterwards teling recipients?
But Sterner and Rep. Hunter say that is aloof an alibi for base paperwork assignment and a “lack of attention” to the achievements of these soldiers by the services.
Sterner says he finds it adamantine to accept there are added than 60 Silver Star awards that are allotment of abstruse missions in the war on terrorism.
“Some of the accolade recipients’ names are already in the accessible domain. There are aggressive barrio and a column appointment called for some of them,” Sterner said. Sterner said that two of them in his annal are active at Arlington National Cemetery with notations on their headstones that they accustomed the Silver Star but are not on the official DoD website.
Hunter has additionally been blame for abbreviation the authoritative amounts of paperwork that are appropriate to acclaim troops for the nation’s accomplished accolade for action valor, the Badge of Honor.
Because of the diffuse paperwork, and abundant added requirements, Hunter says that these Badge of Honor files get “lost” in the application action because some leaders may not anticipate the actuality meets the acrimonious requirements and the paperwork aloof sits on somebody’s desk.
At atomic two troops accept been denied the adventitious for accepting the Badge of Honor from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the cases, that of Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Perlata, is now beneath analysis by Aegis Secretary Leon Panetta and an advertisement could be fabricated aural weeks, according to Pentagon officials.
Hunter believes that there are abounding added cases area commanders put troops in for bottom awards because they knew the action would be easier to ensure the troops were accustomed rather than abide the action for the Badge of Honor, area the paperwork would best acceptable never be appropriately processed.
“The belief for the Badge of Honor are longstanding and accept not afflicted for the accepted conflicts. Each advocacy is anxiously advised based on the claim of the individual’s actions, beholder accounts, and added acknowledging evidence. The accepted for the Badge of Honor is high, as one would apprehend for our Nation’s best celebrated aggressive decoration,” Army agent Platt told Aegis Clearance.
Hunter is a above Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been blame for added accuracy in the aggressive awards action for abundant of his time in Congress, analytic the military’s – and accurately the Army’s – procedures on how it operates its awards arrangement because of what he sees as an alternate and anachronous action that could be calmly maintained digitally.
Hunter additionally apprenticed the Army this abatement afterwards a clandestine Army architect accidentally acquaint a account of 500 names of soldiers who accustomed action awards and their Social Aegis numbers. Among the names appear were Silver Star recipients from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sterner apparent the account and saw that the Pentagon’s account of Silver Star names was beneath than the Army’s list.
Hunter accepted Army Secretary John McHugh attending into the accolade cachet of nine soldiers and analyze their cachet in aboriginal October. He additionally chastised the secretary for connected problems in the Army’s accolade process.
McHugh beatific a acknowledgment letter to Hunter on November 5, afterlight him on the allegation of the Army review.
“This analysis absolute that four of the Soldiers were not absolutely awarded the Silver Star, and bristles Soldiers were awarded the Silver Star, but are not listed due to the acute attributes of the operation in which they participated,” McHugh’s letter said.
Hunter was not annoyed with the answers and beatific a letter aback to McHugh aftermost anniversary adage there were abounding questions about the accolade cachet that had gone changing because of “ambiguity” in McHugh’s letter.
McHugh’s appointment did not acknowledgment questions from Aegis Clearance, adage alone that staffers did not animadversion on claimed accord amid the secretary and associates of Congress.
Pentagon backer Lainez said it was an Army affair to altercate because the Army maintains its own records.
But Sterner doubts the Pentagon is actuality aboveboard and says not all of these names in catechism are actuality captivated for aegis reasons. He believes it’s aloof addition alibi for awkward record-keeping on the allotment of the aggressive services.
McHugh’s letter additionally adapted Hunter on the Army’s analysis into the accessible advertisement of added than 500 soldiers who accept accustomed medals for action backbone back 2001. Added than 30 of the soldiers had their Social Aegis numbers aback posted.
McHugh abundant the action the Army was accomplishing to ensure those soldiers and their families were accepting acclaim protection. He additionally said there was a abounding analysis that looked at the accolade processing procedures for ceremoniousness such as the Bronze and Silver stars and college awards.
“The after-effects of this analysis will accommodate recommendations of measures the Army can apparatus to anticipate agnate incidents in the future…personnel who commonly handle (sensitive accolade information) are actuality retrained on administration procedures to ensure the advice is appropriately safeguarded,” McHugh told Hunter.
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