More Support for Col. West

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 26, 2003 | Go to article overview
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More Support for Col. West


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Thank you for your lead editorial Saturday, "Persecuting Col. West." This is to call your attention to a piece of U.S. military combat history that may be of use.

I refer to Byron Farwell's book "Over There," page 329, on which he records an event that is very similar to the Col. West case. In October 1918, Lt. Dwight Shaffner was leading his platoon, which encountered a group of German soldiers who, with raised hands, called out their surrender. As our soldiers lowered their rifles to accept the terms, the "prisoners" fell flat, and hidden gunners emerged to cut down many of Lt. Shaffner's men. The officer managed to fight his way to the German captain in charge, and he dragged him back. Threatening the captain with his pistol, Lt. Shaffner forced the officer to reveal the German positions ahead. The author reports that in spite of the violation of provisions of the Geneva Conventions, Lt. Shaffner was awarded the Medal of Honor.

I hope this case will assist in the defense of Lt. Col. Allen B. West.

COL. JOHN S. ROSE

U.S. Air Force, retired

Branchport, N.Y.

*

It's hardly a sensible debate anymore. No military officer, active or retired, can bring themselves to pretend that Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (assault) harbors any appropriate context in a combat zone. Yet, Lt. Col. Allen B. West has seen his 20-year career go down the tubes over that very silliness.

I'll go out on a limb and speculate a bit, if nothing else, just to ramp up the screech of the politically correct contingent.

I'm guessing Col. West is not being put through this ordeal because any officer in his chain of command actually believes that he did anything "unlawful" (a key word in Article 128) by using the scare tactics he did to get the vital military intelligence that has proved to be life-saving.

But in acquiring that vital intelligence, Col. West committed a breach of etiquette far more heinous than scaring the enemy: He upstaged two female interrogators.

Any soap opera critic would quickly recognize this little scenario.

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