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As the Middle East rages in violent anti-American protests, the dirty little secret that few in Washington want to discuss is how military families have worried for years about whether their loved ones serving in Afghanistan (and previously in Iraq) would be killed by insurgents or by the bureaucracy and policies of their own government.

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Intrepid journalist and author Diana West reports from an alarming letter written in June by Army Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton that was sent to U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young asking for help after his commanders in Afghanistan told him to “quit whining” about orders to lead patrols twice daily without objective “or purpose” through, basically, “a mine field.” As SSG Sitton wrote, “As a Brigade, we are averaging at a minimum an amputee a day from our soldiers because we are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives. Not to mention that the operation tempo that every solider is on leaves little to no time for rest and refit. The moral and alertness levels on our patrol are low and it is causing casualties left and right.”

“I’m concerned about the well being of my soldiers and have tried to voice my opinion through the proper channels of my own chain of command only to be turned away and told that I need to stop complaining,” SSG Sitton continued. “It is my responsibility to take care of my soldiers …”

Two months later, on August 2, the U.S. policy COIN/nation building, a so-called counterinsurgency plan to win the hearts and minds of Afghans that SSG Sittons wrote about, killed him and another U.S. soldier while on foot patrol in an IED-riddled field in Afghanistan—a death trap. SGG Sitton was 26-years old and leaves behind a wife and son.

The troops are not being sent to war to win. Take off your ideological glasses, and look at the facts.

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Under President George W. Bush, the “catch and release” policy in Iraq, where troops were ordered to catch terrorists only to release them to appease the Iranians to supposedly discourage their nuclear enrichment program, failed miserably and emboldened Iran. As the Washington Post reported in 2007, “There were no costs for the Iranians,” said one senior administration official. “They are hurting our mission in Iraq, and we were bending over backwards not to fight back.” The Bush administration changed course to the “catch or kill” program.

Under the Obama-Clinton regime, despite its obvious failure, the “catch and release” policy was embraced. As the Washington Examiner reported, “It’s as if the Taliban have more rights than us or the people of Afghanistan,” said a U.S. Army medic with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, in Zabul province. “We have to let these guys go all the time no matter what they do, and then we find them trying to hit us again. But if they think I’ve screwed up once, then [the military will] have no problem throwing me to the wolves.”

To be clear, the failure of leadership at the expense of the troops should be directed at both the Democrats and Republicans.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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