Stories continue to roll in of soldiers who are losing their lives by fighting a type of warfare we tried in Vietnam to no avail. The story of Army Staff Sergeant Matthew Sitton is one such example. He was KIA on August 2, 2012, after spending months warning his superiors and Congress that the style of warfare he and his men were being forced to undertake was as pointless as it was dangerous.
On June 4, Sitton wrote Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) to describe the conditions under which he was fighting and the types of duties he and his men were being asked to undertake.
In that correspondence, SSG Sitton wrote:
I feel myself and my soldiers are being put into unnecessary positions where harm and danger are imminent. There is no…purpose for the patrols given to us for our chain of command, only that we will be out for a certain time period. We are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives.
Again, this is limited war at its best, which is limited war at its worst. Instead of using large weapons to level the compounds and areas around the grape rows, we are sending soldiers out on foot to walk through places riddled with IEDs which explode under the pressure of a human foot.
SSG Sitton’s mother says her son told her that he and his men were given a certain amount of foot patrols they had to perform in such areas over a certain amount of time. She recalled he said they frequently had to “patrol in urine and feces soaked uniforms” just to meet the foot-patrol quota — but no clear objective or end for the patrols was ever given.
As pointless as these endeavors appeared to SSG Sitton, he wrote that he remained “totally on board with sacrifice for [his] country.”
If we leave Afghanistan prematurely, it will become even more of a terrorists’ safe haven than it already is. However, if we keep our men and women in uniform there without allowing them to fight to win, we will have committed an even worse offense than allowing Afghanistan to return to the terrorists.
God bless men like Staff Sergeant Matthew Sitton. God bless his mother, and the mothers of all those who are off to war.