Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pvt. David Dietrich sent to Iraq no matter what and died there

‘He Should Never Have Gone to Iraq’
More borderline troops are being sent to the front, sometimes with tragic results.

By Dan Ephron NEWSWEEK
Jun 30, 2008 Issue

Pvt. David Dietrich had a history of cognitive problems. He struggled in boot camp at Fort Knox, Ky., striking at least one of his superiors as unfit for the military. Dietrich was so slow at processing new things, some fellow soldiers called him Forrest Gump.

His squad leader, Pfc. Matthew Berg, says Dietrich couldn't hit targets on the rifle range and had trouble retaining information. "He was very strong physically, but mentally he wasn't really all there," Berg says. Recruited as a cavalry scout, one of the toughest specialties in the Army, Dietrich seemed to lack the essential skills for the job: concentration, decisiveness and the ability to move around without being noticed. He was sent for psychological evaluations at least twice, yet somehow Dietrich advanced—from Fort Knox to Germany and on to Iraq in November 2006. Eight weeks later, at 21, Dietrich was killed by a sniper while conducting reconnaissance from an abandoned building in Ramadi.

What was a guy like Dietrich doing in the military? At a time when an overstretched Army is sending into combat thousands of soldiers who once would have been considered mentally or physically unfit for duty, his story illuminates the complexities and human cost of the war—and shows how hard it is to find the line between tragic circumstances and military misconduct.

Dietrich's problems did not surface on enlistment tests. In Iraq, it's unclear whether his cognitive issues had something to do with his death. Yet his superiors had serious misgivings about the troubled soldier. One of them says he worried that Dietrich would pose a danger to himself and others if he was sent to Iraq and pushed to have him processed out of the military—only to be rebuffed by higher-ups. In conversations with NEWSWEEK, he asked not to be named for fear of jeopardizing his Army career. Berg, the squad leader, says he is speaking publicly because he feels partially responsible for Dietrich's death. "The Army was under a lot of pressure to graduate scouts at the time, and even now … no matter how competent or incompetent," Berg says.
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1 comment:

  1. this is so much bullshit. i was there when this happen. if he was sent out on mission it was because he was ready.


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