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McCaskill: Change In Military Command Opportunity To Examine Lessons Learned In Afghanistan

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Following the Senate Armed Services confirmation hearing for General David Petraeus, who has been nominated to become the new American commander in Afghanistan, U.S Senator Claire McCaskill made a statement regarding lessons learned in Afghanistan, particularly lessons arising out of the highly publicized battle at Wanat, Afghanistan.

Last week, the Army reversed its prior decision to reprimand the commanders involved in the July 2008 battle at Wanat, Afghanistan, which claimed the life of Missouri native CPL Gunnar Zwilling and eight other brave American heroes. An initial investigation into the incident concluded with a letter of reprimand for the officers involved for leaving their units exposed deep in enemy territory with insufficient supplies and munitions. The letters of reprimand were revoked last week.

"I am disappointed that the Army has reached conflicting decisions on how to hold the chain of command accountable. The latest development, which rescinds the reprimands given to commanders associated with the battle at Wanat, adds another difficult turn for the families of the fallen warriors of Chosen Company, including Gunnar's dad, Kurt Zwilling, who has been fighting for answers about what happened to his son at Wanat. As we move into the next critical phase in the fight in Afghanistan, I hope our military leaders will learn from the tragic lessons of Wanat and continue to work in every manner possible to protect our brave men and women in harm's way. Further, where there is a question about command decisions in instances where we lose soldiers in battle, the Army must better be able to review the questions and arrive at a single, responsible and definitive response. An ever-wavering process only provides for uncertainty and pain and erodes confidence in Army leadership."

McCaskill submitted questions for the record on these conflicting decisions that will be answered by General Petraeus.

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