September 21, 2012

Soldier’s E-mail Changes House Defense Chair’s Position on Afghanistan

ABC News | by Julie Percha | Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton knew there was the threat of casualties when he deployed to Afghanistan for his third tour of duty, but he said he was “totally on board with sacrifice for [his] country.”

What he didn’t agree with, though, was his chain of command, who mandated Sitton’s 25-man platoon to take twice-daily patrols through fields littered with explosive devices. The platoon was averaging an amputee a day, Sitton said, and since the patrols didn’t have an end goal, he didn’t see the point of risking such extreme danger.

Sitton was so concerned with his platoon’s safety and morale that in June, he wrote a measured letter to Rep. C.W. Bill Young,  R-Fla., who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I feel myself and my soldiers are being put into unnecessary positions where harm and danger are imminent,” Sitton wrote in an e-mail. ”There is no endstate or purpose for the patrols given to us from our higher chain of command, only that we will be out for a certain time standard.”

“We are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives,” he wrote.

On Aug. 2, less than two months after he sent the email, Sitton, 26, was killed by an IED blast. He left behind a wife, a 9-month-old son — and an 81-year-old Congressman with a new perspective on Afghanistan.
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