October 27, 2007

Second chances...

Michael Yon has a great piece on Private Beauchamp...

...The story of General Petraeus getting accidentally shot in the chest is a case in point. One of his own soldiers had pulled the trigger. Normally, something very bad would have happened to that soldier and his commander. Instead Petraeus sent that soldier to Ranger School, and his Captain (Fred Johnson) was promoted early. In June, I witnessed LTC Fred Johnson helping to restore security and rebuild Baqubah. Fred Johnson is a believer in second chances....

[...]

...It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.

Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it....
Posted by John Weidner at October 27, 2007 8:27 AM
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