A graduate of West Point and veteran of the first Gulf War writes to the Washington Post regarding its series on Pat Tillman’s death by friendly fire.
Though it is not my goal to exonerate those who shot Tillman – particularly without all of the facts – it is worth pointing out that fratricide is a sad reality of war. Living under the constant threat of enemy fire, soldiers must learn to think and act quickly. What turned out to be Tillman and an Afghan militiaman on that ridge in Khost could have easily been members of an attacking force.
If we examine the chain of events that led to Tillman’s premature death, it is convenient to look at the decision to split the platoon, the botched communications and the pressure to get “boots on the ground” in a nearby sector. All of these, however, miss the mark. The reality of Tillman’s death is that he was on that desolate ridge in Afghanistan seeking out the murderer of thousands of innocent American civilians. If we are going to assign blame for the tragic loss of this American patriot, let’s start and end with Osama bin Laden and his network of terrorists.