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Thread: Sassaman Interview

  1. #21
    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Montgomery, AL

    Default Agree in part, dissent in part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shek View Post
    I think most folks are fully willing to underwrite mistakes, provided that the person learns from them. However, I think there are two reasons that people don't have much empathy for his actions. First, it involves a moral-ethical choice, not a tactical choice. After 19 years in the Army, one should have inculcated and fully understood the values of the Army - if that's not enough time, then there shouldn't be a place for you in the Army. Secondly, LTC Sassaman appears not to have learned from the mistake - while he accepts responsibility, he appears unapologetic about the decision, even stating at one point in his memoirs that if he had known that there was an ongoing criminal investigation that his actions to cover up the incident would have been different.

    That's not the statement of someone doing the right thing, essentially, "if I had known that I couldn't have covered it up, I wouldn't have tried."

    You can contrast this behavior to LTC West...
    First, I understand the part about his different actions in the part of the coverup to mean that he wouldn't have covered anything up if he thought there was an investigation (i.e. it would have been a crime). I really like the example of LTC West, because I think he owned his mistakes better than anyone else. I also agree that Nate doesn't seem to view his actions as a mistake. I am forced to wonder, though, how much of that is because he is untrainable, and how much of it is because the die is cast.

    Nate is not alone in deriving much of his self esteem and personal image from his service in the army, but that is all gone. Not only can he not take back what happened, he only got one shot. He has no chance to redeem himself from the past. His only chance to maintain that self image is to justify his position in the past. As mentioned before we saw a lot of this following WWI, Vietnam, and the Civil War. I think specifically of LTG Johnston, and how he spent the majority of the remainder of his life after the Civil War trying to convince everyone that Lee was a fool who lost Gettysburg.

    I realize that debating over tactics is different fundamentally from ethical concerns from a normative perspective, but it is not from a psycological one. Something I often say is that self-awareness is rare. Few people who look around themselves and dislike their situation are willing to admit that wittingly or not, their situation is largely a product of their own choices. The hardass in me wants to say that is tough, and come down on them just the same. But I am self aware enough to know that I too require a little bit of denial to get through the day.

    Again, and as a final word, the only way that Nate will ever end up in the 22-100 is as an example of what not to do, or perhaps how a career can go tragically awry. Even that I doubt, given the far more spectacular examples of just that which have arisen throughout the course of this war. I am not even so sure that Nate is the exception, or that he didn't acclimatize perfectly to the military culture has produced given the constant revelations of abuse of detainees. That said, we should always elevate our goals a little, so that we always strive to be better. All I am asking is to cut the guy a little slack, and let him be the tragedy that he so obviously is.
    Audentes adiuvat fortuna
    "Abu Suleyman"

  2. #22
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Just outside the Beltway


    For anyone interested, there's a new book out by the 3/4ID JAG during OIF I which covers the bridge incident and alleged detainee execution incident (no direct link to Sassaman other than it occured within his battalion):

  3. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Great leader

    Sassaman was a GREAT leader and was trying to protect us and I admire him for it. However Major Gwinner was his weak link who was a terrible leader and he should have went to prison for all the misdeeds he did while serving. Maybe you can classify his statements as cover ups, but protecting his soldiers is what he did. PERIOD. Absolutely the greatest officer I have ever had the honor of serving under. He kept our morale up and let us know he was there for us and would be the first one to enter and the last one out.


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