President Donald J. Trump greets service members during a troop talk, Nov. 5, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. During his talk, Trump highlighted the importance of the U.S. — Japan alliance in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. (Photo Credit: DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Juan Torres)
President Trump has granted clemency to two soldiers and a sailor who have been accused of war crimes.
Army Special Forces Major Matthew Golsteyn was facing court-martial for the murder of a known Taliban bombmaker. The action took place in 2010 and, initially, Golsteyn had been awarded a Silver Star for his role. Eventually, in a move so typical of the Army in which I served, the award was revoked and replaced with a murder indictment. He was due to go on trial next month. Golsteyn was pardoned.
Army First Lieutenant Clint Lorance is serving a 19-year sentence for killing three men on a motorcycle heading towards the platoon while on an operation in Afghanistan. Mike
Flynn (oops, my bad) Ford talked about this case in his post: Judicial Fragging in the Military (VIP content). The case stinks of a cabal of junior enlisted guys using a combat action that was imminently justifiable as a way to take out an officer they didn’t like…and the Politically Correct forces that have succeeded to command of the Army leapt at the chance to make an example of him. Lorance was pardoned and is out of Leavenworth tonight.
Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher was convicted by a court-martial of some nonsense after the murder case against him melted down when a) the prosecution actually tried to insert malware into the smartphones and computer systems of the defense team to see if they were leaking information to the press and b) when the prosecution’s star witness, who had been given a grant of immunity, confessed to the killing on the witness stand. Gallagher was reduced in grade one rank. President Trump ordered him restored to his previous rank.
These are solid decisions by a commander-in-chief who realizes that much of the current military leadership is much more concerned with pleasing SJWs and making all the right sucking sounds in the direction of progressive butts than in military efficiency. While rules of engagement are what separate a disciplined military force from an armed thuggery, it has been known for a decade that our rules of engagement seem tantamount to not only giving the bad guys the first shot but putting a lawyer in the loop in operational decisions. (Of course, that does give the David French’s of the world the ability to boast about their combat experience, so there is that.) Under Obama, we saw the military justice system unleashed on military and warfighters punished for putting the safety of their units above the safety of known or likely enemies.
There is a school of thought out there that claims that President Trump doing this is undercutting the chain of command and turning our troops into a swarm of conscienceless killers. Both assertions are utter bullsh**. The chain of command that has harassed and persecuted Major Golsteyn for nearly a decade is simply not deserving of support or respect and, quite honestly, should not be allowed to command anything at all. What has happened to him is nothing short of a permanent stain on the general officer corps of the United States Army. Lorance has been in prison for nearly 6-and-one-half years for, at the very worst, making a bad decision in a stressful situation. If he erred at all, he did so on the side of force protection and bringing your guys home alive and in one piece should not be a felony in any Army. Gallagher was court-martialed in a proceeding that looked more like a calculated vendetta than anything else. None of these men escaped punishment.
By contrast, William Calley served 3-and-one-half years house arrest for the My Lai Massacre. His commander, Ernest Medina, was acquitted of all charges. Going back to World War II, Sergeant Horace West personally gunned down 37 Italian prisoners of war at Biscari, Sicily. He was sentenced to life in prison, served a bit over a year, was released and restored to active duty. Captain John Compton ordered the execution of 36 prisoners, also at Biscari. He was acquitted by a court-martial based on the defense that one of Patton’s speeches had left him with the belief that he was to take no prisoners. In April 1945, the US unit liberating Dachau executed some 50 German troops who were there recuperating from wounds and not involved in camp operations. The unit commander was basically told to not do it again.
War is not a clean and sanitary business. It is fought by young men with adrenaline surging who have to make split-second decisions that WILL result in someone’s death. Their only choice is who gets killed. It is insane to hold them to some bullsh** peacetime “use of deadly force” standard. It is disloyal and dishonorable for their chain of command to prioritize punishing them for erring on the side of saving their soldiers. This was a good call by President Trump and I guarantee you, it will be noticed by the military command structure and the troops.