Sunday, May 20, 2012

NATO was not in Iraq! WaPo edition (Updated-2)

Annie Gowen reporting in the Washington Post today on the clash between protesters and police at the NATO summit in Chicago:
Mark Stach, 40, a veteran from Dixon, Ill., filled his canteen as he readied for the march to return the NATO war-on-terror medal he received while serving in Iraq in the Army National Guard in 2004 and 2005.
I talked about this last week. NATO did not have any operational role in the war in Iraq. NATO did not issue a single medal for Iraq (again, maybe except outside of the very small role they had in the military academy at Camp Rustamiyah). As far I as I can tell, NATO has no war on terror. Ergo, an Army National Guard vet who served in Iraq could not possibly have a "NATO war-on-terror medal" to return. It's one thing for an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune to make such nonsensical statements. It's another thing entirely for the Washington Post to report such a thing as fact in a news story.

These veterans are using their status as such to influence policy. It's a shame they apparently know squat about the conflicts they are protesting that they don't know where the medals they are making such a big deal about are from or who even awarded them. It's a bigger shame that news agencies are eating this crap hook, line, and sinker without doing due diligence to even superficially analyze if these veterans have an inkling about anything, other than war really, really sucks.

Washington Post: if even you can't figure out that NATO had no significant role in Iraq, that NATO does not have a war on terror campaign, and that NATO could not possibly issue medals for a war it isn't waging for combat duty in a country it isn't operational, then we're all screwed. Do your job. Report the news, check the facts. And if people are doing or saying something stupid, then call them out for it. Otherwise, it seems you know FA more about this than these numbskulls playing you for the attention you're giving them.

UPDATE: I have seen comments elsewhere about the NATO Training Mission - Iraq and that maybe this guy and the other were part of that. First, it was a tiny mission. I can't pull the exact numbers right now because NATO's website is down, but it was a very small mission and if there were any Americans as part of it, it wasn't more than a handful. ]

Second, and pay attention here, Army Regulation 600-8-22, the Army's awards Bible, does not authorize the NATO Medal for service in Iraq. Because the award is for having served under direct command or operational control of in direct service of the listed NATO operations. Iraq isn't one of those. No U.S. servicemember should have a NATO Medal for service in Iraq, even if they worked for NTM-I at Camp Rustamiyah.

UPDATE 2: If you click the link to the article you can see that the line quoted above has changed and now says that Stach is going to return a U.S. medal for his service. It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Thank you Ms. Gowen and editors for making the correction. And you're welcome America for the victory of truth I have won for you today.


  1. //These veterans are using their status as such to influence policy. It's a shame they apparently know squat about the conflicts they are protesting that they don't know where the medals they are making such a big deal about are from or who even awarded them.//

    They are protesting NATO because it is the force arm for the international military industrial complex that has soaked our taxpayers dry for war toys and stolen the lives and health of my veterans.

    However, did the veteran call the medal a NATO war-on-terror" medal or did the reporter? Don't blame the veteran for the lazy media.

  2. I would guess it was the veteran since he and a bunch of others are the ones returning their medals to "NATO Generals" as reported in numerous outlets (we'll ignore the fact that NATO has, in fact, no generals for the time being). Even if you remove the words "war-on-terror" from the description of the medal, this guy did not get a NATO medal (or Medal) for his service in Iraq. He's wrong. The reporter's wrong.

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  4. The "influence policy" thing is negligible in my opinion.

    The more interesting view is how these people blame something bad on something foreign, multinational - instead of asking whether they were possibly among those who elected a wrong candidate years ago.

    I am not into psychology, but some cognitive dissonance may be at work here. They can probably not stand the idea that the reason for the mess was really endogenous, not exogenous.

  5. Ran across your post today, and while I understand your claim to be correct (with the reference of the Army Reg), you are in fact incorrect. As is typical in the US military, the documenation you refernece was out of date, though the interim guidence published as updates has been out for several yeare. US members that served under NTM-I do in fact rate the medal (see update: You are however very correct in your initial state that there are very few that rate the medal. The NTM-I averaged less than 60 US personnel from 2006 to 2011 (begining to end); approximately 300 service members earned the medal as they fell under the command of the NATO leadership. I can not speak for the NTIM-I that ran from 2004 to 2006. The medal is not about combat, it is awarded based on the NATO mission, which in this case was about training Iraqi military personnel. All other issues aside (e.g. should the US have been in Iraq, let alone NATO and the coalition), the medal is authorized for those that met the criteria. rescott1 at hotmail dot com.