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Family of fallen soldier petitions top general for war policy changes

2010-06-28T19:34:00Z 2010-09-07T09:29:40Z Family of fallen soldier petitions top general for war policy changesBy DAYELIN ROMAN, droman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star

QUEENSBURY -- The father of a slain local soldier has taken public a message about the war's rules of engagement.

William Osborn, the father of Spc. Benjamin Osborn, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 15, sent a letter to Gen. David Petraeus on Sunday asking him to change rules which he said tie soldiers' hands.

"Our son, SPC 4 Benjamin D. Osborn, volunteered to man the one heavy gun his unit had mounted on top of an MRAP vehicle," the e-mail states. "Finally, ordered to fire, Ben was able to get off 10 rounds before falling silent."

Four minutes after Osborn sent the e-mail, Petraeus responded with condolences for the parents and asked them to listen to remarks he'll make at a Senate confirmation hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, where he planned to address the issue.

Petraeus is to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday as part of the process to replace Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. President Obama opted to replace McChrystal last week.

"I will note that commanders have a moral imperative to ensure that we provide every possible element of support to our troopers when they get into a tight spot," Petraeus's e-mail states. "And I will ensure that we meet that imperative if I am confirmed to command ISAF in Afghanistan."

On Monday morning, William Osborn appeared on the Fox News cable channel to deliver the same message and said troops need to be empowered to use force when they deem it necessary.

The current rules of engagement call for firing only after being fired upon, Osborn said, and that rule is what led to the death of his son.

"We have the greatest fighting force in the world with the most technologically advanced weapons known to man," Osborn's e-mail to Petraeus stated. "We spend enormous resources to teach, train and prepare our fighting men and women for battle; then send them out with one hand tied behind their backs."

The rules of engagement are part of a war strategy referred to as counter-insurgency, where troops try to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan population.

On Thursday morning, the day his son was laid to rest at the Saratoga National Cemetery, Osborn compared the war in Afghanistan to Vietnam and said winning the hearts of the Afghan people can't be done until the war is won.

"It has to change, or we're going to lose," he said, "and in the process of losing, more families are going to go through what we're going through, and that's not right."

After his appearance on national television on Monday morning, Osborn said the experience felt like a whirlwind. The cable channel sent a car to pick the parents up at around 1:30 a.m. and whisked them to New York City.

"I don't even remember what was said," he said on Monday afternoon. "I hope I did some good to the cause."

Cyndie Wade, a friend of the Osborn family who said a contact she knows helped Osborn get on the national cable network, sent an e-mail to NBC on Monday and said she is working to get the parents to appear on MSNBC and the Today Show.

"For whatever reason, my feelings seem to have caught on with some people," Osborn said. "It's too late for my son, but if this could help the men and women out there now, this is Ben's legacy. It's about Ben and the men that he fought with over there. They just deserve a lot better than what they're getting."

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(7) Comments

  1. numbsense
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    numbsense - June 29, 2010 7:24 pm
    No, NICK, many of us don't agree with your blanket statement. I take great pride in knowing that two members of my community were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice so that other members of the world could share in the same freedoms that they enjoyed.
  2. Nick
    Report Abuse
    Nick - June 29, 2010 1:39 pm
    It is unfortunate that it took the deaths of SPC Osborn & PFC Miller for this area to become interested again in operations in Afghanistan. We can all agree that their deaths were senseless, as they did nothing to further the original mission of the United States Military in Afghanistan (to capture/kill Al Qaeda & its supporting Taliban leadership, responsible terrorist attacks against the United States, on and off our soil). The mission in Afghanistan has diverged wildly from the original intent. At this point, conventional military units such as those of SPC Osborn & PFC Miller are charged with rebuilding the infrastructure of Afghanistan, to include schools, roads, bridges, streetlights, public works, government; civil society.

    The deaths of these soldiers weren’t at the hands of Al Qaeda or the senior Taliban leadership which were the original targets; more than likely, these two brave young men served as targets of opportunity for rogue elements within the country.
  3. justmy2cents4U
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    justmy2cents4U - June 29, 2010 1:07 pm
    Mr. Osborn is to be commended for such an amazing and selfless act - to reach out and make a difference during the most difficult time in their lives says so much about the character of the entire family. God Bless all of you!
  4. lbz1947
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    lbz1947 - June 29, 2010 12:20 pm
    I so agree with the other 2 posters. But I wonder why we are there. These people are crazy & just keep blowing up each other. I think we can be there forever & it'll just keep happening. They have no respect for human life. They don't want us there. Please send out service people back here. It is all so sad.
  5. rdc
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    rdc - June 29, 2010 11:56 am
    He appeared on Fox news, huh? Really?

    While I agree that the rules of engagement are insane, I don't know what defines 'winning' this war. Setting up a secure government - especially one without Taliban participation - seems to be a dimming possibility.
  6. rocknbob
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    rocknbob - June 29, 2010 8:20 am
    I absolutly agree with Mr. Osborn the rules of engagement are KILLING our soldiers. If they spot enemy forces they should open fire and eliminate the danger to themselves imediatly without the micro management from Washington. Much respect to the Osborn's.
  7. theMaven
    Report Abuse
    theMaven - June 28, 2010 8:39 pm
    Have perfect respect for the son,
    now also for the father.

    I keep asking the same question I asked manning a foxhole in Viet Nam,
    what the heck are American soldiers doing half way around the world, fighting for some God forsaken turf we wouldn't want if given to us for free.

    Honor the Warriors, not the wars.

    Love America, fear our government.


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