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.