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May 17, 2007

Two Officers Lose Commands Over Leadership Failures Resulting In Soldiers' 2006 Kidnapping, Murder

Topics: Iraq

KristianMenchaca-ThomasTucker.jpg[Image: Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore. were abducted and brutally massacred by terrorists in Iraq.]

In June 2006, three 101st Airborne Division soldiers were killed, Spc. David J. Babineau, of Springfield, Mass., was found dead at the scene, but two others -- Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore., were abducted. Their horribly mutilated bodies were found three days later, tied together and booby-trapped with bombs. They had been decapitated. Now a military investigation has concluded that the soldiers had been left alone for up to 36 hours in a poorly planned mission, and two officers have been relieved of their commands:

Neither of the officers faced criminal charges as a result of the litany of mistakes that left the soldiers exposed, a military official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

A report on the investigation said the platoon leader and company commander -- whose names were not released -- failed to provide proper supervision to the unit or enforce military standards.

A seven-page summary of the investigation provided to the AP also said it appears insurgents may have rehearsed the attack two days earlier, and that Iraqi security forces near the soldiers' outpost probably saw and heard the attack and "chose to not become an active participant in the attack on either side."

"This was an event caused by numerous acts of complacency, and a lack of standards at the platoon level," said the investigating officer, Lt. Col. Timothy Daugherty, in the summary.

[...] According to the investigation of last June's attack, Tucker, Menchaca and Babineau were ordered to guard a mobile bridge over a canal in order to prevent insurgents from planting mines. Other members of their platoon, who were at two locations up to three-quarters of a mile away, heard small arms fire at 7:49 p.m. When they arrived at the checkpoint about 25 minutes later, Babineau was dead and the others were gone.

Daugherty said the soldiers were told to stand guard for up to 36 hours with just one Humvee, and there were no barriers on the road to slow access to them or provide early warning.

To expect them to operate an observation post for 24 to 36 hours was unrealistic, he said. "From the time a vehicle was seen, it would have been in front or beside the (Humvee) in a matter of seconds," he wrote.

Daugherty concluded that the platoon did not get the supervision or direction it needed. And he said the unit was hurt by the loss of 10 troops, including several leaders, who were killed in action as well as by the need to shuffle the platoon's leadership three times.

Our original post on the brutal murder of Pfc. Menchaca and Pfc. Tucker is here ...

One can't help but ask what happened has been done about the "Iraqi security forces near the soldiers' outpost" that likely "saw and heard the attack" and "chose to not become an active participant in the attack on either side"?

Meanwhile, the current search for 3 missing U.S. soldiers continues, and the military says the dog tags were stolen from one of the soldiers that was killed in the attack, and an Iraqi Special Operations Force backed by U.S. troops has arrested 16 suspects during search operations for the soldiers.

Regarding the "16 suspects" that we have now and any other "suspects" we come up with in our search for our guys, as we posted back in June 2006, T. Bubba Bechtol - part time City Councilman from Midland, TX, was asked on a local live radio talk show just what he thought of the allegations of torture of the Iraqi prisoners. His reply prompted his ejection from the studio, but to thunderous applause from the audience, he said something that I think readily applies today.

"If hooking up an Iraqi prisoner's scrotum to a car's battery cables will save ONE American G.I's life, then I have just two things to say: " "Red is positive, Black is negative!"

Posted by Mike in Iraq at May 17, 2007 10:25 AM

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