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01 Jan 04,, 05:02
FrontPage Magazine's Man of the Year: Col. Allen B. West

By Ben Johnson

FrontPageMagazine.com | December 31, 2003

This year offered any number of exemplary choices for FrontPage Magazine’s Man of the Year award. President George W. Bush, with the assistance of Tony Blair, courageously led the world to eliminate a terrorist regime, commanded a lightning-quick military victory and ended the year by taking Saddam Hussein into custody. General Tommy Franks orchestrated the most successful campaign in modern warfare while avoiding civilian “collateral damage,” even at the expense of Allied military advantage. Arnold Schwarzenegger shocked the world by toppling a failed political hack and setting the nation’s largest state on the road to fiscal responsibility once again. Representative Jack Kingston took the initiative to introduce the Academic Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives, and conservative politicians, writers and thinkers across the nation have produced vital books, columns and position papers to advance the cause of liberty. We salute them all.

However, FrontPage Magazine’s Man of the Year has shown true courage, compassion and heroism in the face of battle – and unlike the worthies named above, he has suffered for his good deeds rather than received commendation. He has been on the frontlines of the War on Terror in the heart of the Iraqi resistance. He undertook extraordinary measures to safeguard the lives of his men, to protect Americans under attack by bloodthirsty Islamist gangleaders. Yet instead of reward he has been tested by fire, having been dishonored by the very military he served so effectively for the last 20 years of his life. This irresponsible punishing of someone who should be awarded for his bravery and patriotism endangers the American people. For that reason, we seek to honor Col. Allen B. West.

Colonel West earned the disdain of leftist intellectuals and the rebuke of the United States armed forces for protecting the lives of his troops. West commanded the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, near Tikrit. In the days following the toppling of Saddam’s regime and preceding the dictator’s capture in a filthy desert hole, West was responsible for the lives and safety of 700 men and women who had spent a cautious summer sweltering in the crosshairs of Sunni Triangle terrorists.

The 42-year-old was no stranger to the battlefield, having received the Bronze Star and having been decorated for valor. He knew only too well of the terrorist attacks carried out by Saddam loyalists and recently arrived jihadist fanatics, claiming an average of one U.S. soldier’s life each day. With a firm commitment to protect his soldiers’ well-being, he determined to keep his troops safe.

In late August, Colonel West received news that his men had been targeted by a group of thugs associated with an Iraqi policeman named Yahya Jhodri Hamoodi. Allied forces quickly apprehended Hamoodi in Saba al Boor, a tiny town near Tikrit. Four interrogation specialists worked late into the evening of August 20, desperately trying to pry the attack plans out of him. Growing frustrated, the interrogators resorted to physical force, punching Hamoodi – without success. (Hamoodi was not seriously injured at any point during the interrogation.) It was then that Col. Allen West intervened.

Seeing that even physical violence had proven ineffective, Colonel West took the next logical step: He took the intransigent suspect outside, shoved Hamoodi’s head into a sandbox and threatened to kill him. The Colonel then pulled out his sidearm and fired a warning shot into the sky. Then West carefully held Hamoodi’s head aside as he fired a shot over Hamoodi’s shoulder, into the warm Iraqi sand burying his visage.

That near-scrape with death did the trick. Hamoodi began singing, telling West the identities of two men planning the attacks and revealing their attack plans, including the site of the intended ambush. The two men were arrested, and Colonel West ordered his men away from the site as they continued to serve the liberated Iraqi people. Upon turning Hamoodi over, he admitted his unorthodox tactics. For protecting the 700 soldiers in his care and cracking Hamoodi where professional interrogators had failed, Colonel West was immediately stripped of his command and threatened with jail time.

In October, the armed forces offered Colonel West an ultimatum: resign the military and lose his pension and benefits, or face trial for violating standard interrogation procedure. If convicted, West could have received up to eight years in jail – for saving his men’s lives. On the other hand, West, who had just qualified to retire with 20 years service, needed his benefits to care for his wife, Angela, a cancer victim.

West chose to make his case to his military colleagues. Publicly choking back tears, West acknowledged his actions in interrogating Hamoodi; he merely denied that what he had done was criminal, knowing his troops had been targeted for extermination in the midst of a war. His great heart showed during his trial, as he said, "If it's about the lives of my men and their safety, I'd go through Hell with a gasoline can . . . There is not a person in this room I would not sacrifice my life for."

On December 11, West escaped court martial. Major General Raymond Odierno ordered West to pay a $5,000 fine and allowed him to retire as a Lieutenant Colonel. The ordeal caused by his desire to save his troops a violent death in a desert land had finally ended. He was free to return to Ft. Hood, Texas, to his wife Angela, with his reputation essentially cleared.

However, the disgraceful treatment of Colonel Allen B. West by the U.S. Armed Forces is practically unforgivable. In the midst of war, West did what was necessary to keep the troops committed to his charge from becoming the latest headline detailing the Fedayeen’s postwar sabotage. His interrogation was not nearly as vicious as the tactics of Saddam’s men in 1991, their savaging of POWs and raping of female captives. This level of dedication, this commitment to preserving life, this steadfast commitment to bear any burden to keep his troops safe, shows why West had been so highly decorated in his two decades in the service. For his actions, he should have received high honors; instead, he was deprived of his job, publicly humiliated and disowned by his own superiors.

Col. West is the model leader, precisely the kind of man any soldier would want watching his back in combat. His subordinates, and his fellow countrymen, were denied his valiant service in a misguided effort to curry favor with the international Left. Euro-socialists decried his actions, and an Administration then frantic to bring foreign troops into the fray sacrificed Col. West to show the “international community” that not all Americans are “cowboys.” It didn’t work; the anti-American Left refuses to as much as forgive the massive debts Saddam ran up building his multiple palaces, let alone put any troops into harm’s way.

The trial of Col. Allen B. West sent a message to another, unintended party: Iraqi insurgents. It told Iraqis they need not fear for their lives if captured, that the brutal Ba’athists would do them greater physical harm than the Allied forces, if they squeal. This has resulted in a series of uncooperative interviewees. Colonel West’s attorney, Neal Puckett, revealed the costs of the military’s persecution of his client. "All of the intelligence witnesses regularly expressed the fact that detainees bragged they know they don't have to talk because we can't do anything to them," Puckett said in a recent interview. Word has apparently percolated all the way to the top: Saddam Hussein is reportedly slapping down interrogators’ questions with one sarcastic jab after another. One senior official has said Saddam is behaving like a “wiseass.” Perhaps he knows that should anyone get serious about questioning him – about the terrorist insurgents, the location of his WMDs, his long history of rape and torture – the interrogator will be more likely to face consequences than the Madman from Tikrit. While the United States is launching an all-out assault on terrorism, the last thing it needs is to cultivate an image as a paper tiger, a castrated neo-European power following Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s interrogation methods.

The West case also demonstrates the major fissure between how the Left would conduct foreign policy vs. how anyone of a sensible persuasion would run our affairs. The Left, ever exalting procedure over substance, would send Col. West down the river for his “misdeeds.” Average Americans would reward West for his valor and determination; the Left would scapegoat him in an effort to curry favor with Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan. The fact that the leading Democratic presidential candidates espouse this irresponsible policy of national emasculation is the primary reason none of them should be entrusted with a position of leadership during such a vital time.

And the Left has not been alone in its denunciation of Col. West. Former Representative Bob Barr of Georgia has publicly declared West is not “heroic.” “I do not believe we ought to, as a nation, take the step for the very first time of condoning these sorts of interrogation techniques,” he sniffed. This, along with his opposition to the Patriot Act and increasing coziness with the Left on Homeland Security issues, is a most alarming trend in the Congressman’s previously praiseworthy conduct.

FrontPage Magazine is thankful to other Congressmen who have not been poisoned by the Left’s negativism. We are grateful to Representatives Duncan Hunter, R-CA, and John McHugh, R-NY; as well as Senators Jim Imhofe, R-OK, and John Warner, R-VA, for theor actions on Colonel West’s behalf.

We are also thankful to those who have contributed to Colonel West’s legal defense fund. Those who have not yet contributed may do so by sending a donation to:

Allen West Defense Fund
c/o Angela West
6823 Coleman Drive
Ft. Hood, TX 76544.

Colonel Allen B. West was unjustly tried and, however slightly, punished for the “crime” of valuing his own troops’ lives over the mental well being and self-esteem of an Iraqi terrorist. FrontPage Magazine wishes all our troops in Iraq had commanders as dedicated and long-suffering as the Colonel. The Psalmist wrote, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” May the Lord continue to deliver Colonel West from all danger in his new life in the civilian sector, just as Colonel West, when he had the opportunity in Iraq, delivered his troops out of danger.

Ben Johnson is Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine.


01 Jan 04,, 08:19
I admire Colonel West for doing what he did. If I have the chance, I would shake his hand and buy him a beer. But I also supported US Army actions.

There's a motto that only a rare breed with honor follows it assidiously.

"You do what you have to, but you pay the price no matter what".

Colonel West knew what he was doing. He sacrificed his career to protect his men. Before making the decision, fate or the universe basically told him what his options were and the price for each option. West knew the price and paid it willingly.

If I was in charge of him, I would shake his hand and give him a badge if I could, but I would discharge him.

Too many leaders have justified their actions by the results.

"The end doesn't necessarily justify the means"

However that does not mean that we can be restricted to any ends that appropriate means will give you. You just can't justify your actions and get away with it. You must pay the price. To me, that is the essence of honor.

Colonel West has proved his honor. However, we cannot lessen the price he must pay.

A leader has his quirks but also has its downsides. That is the way of things.

01 Jan 04,, 12:00
I agree in giving the Col. the honor of Man of the Year

Officer of Engineers
02 Jan 04,, 05:41
Col West's actions were not unique. The Brits experienced the same. However, the worst that ever happenned was a reprimand.

For some reason, Col West would not tolerate that on his record.

02 Jan 04,, 15:31
Originally posted by Officer of Engineers
Col West's actions were not unique. The Brits experienced the same. However, the worst that ever happenned was a reprimand.

For some reason, Col West would not tolerate that on his record.

The military charged him with aggravated assault. So I think, he would have gotten more then a reprimand.

Officer of Engineers
02 Jan 04,, 16:52
Originally posted by Leader
The military charged him with aggravated assault. So I think, he would have gotten more then a reprimand.

There are some info that I am privy to and will not discuss but suffice to say the Iraqi policeman was not helping his situation any.

As for the charges, standard JAG BS. They'll try to hit the maximun to prove their worth before being taken down several pegs by the military hierarchy. Like all lawyers, the bigger the win, the more the win, the more their promotional chances.

02 Jan 04,, 22:32
How 'bout Colonel Hickey?

03 Jan 04,, 01:46
Id buy him a round of beers at the bar .. the only problem is, im only 16 lol.

Officer of Engineers
03 Jan 04,, 04:04
Originally posted by Ironman
How 'bout Colonel Hickey?

I couldn't detect anything the Col did that would even come close to being a violation of the GC. Same kind of things during UNPROFOR.

You're allowed to isolate areas that are deemed a threat to your safety. Though we had a designated area to train in, they were former homes.

03 Jan 04,, 05:12
Originally posted by Officer of Engineers
I couldn't detect anything the Col did that would even come close to being a violation of the GC. Same kind of things during UNPROFOR.

You're allowed to isolate areas that are deemed a threat to your safety. Though we had a designated area to train in, they were former homes.
I meant for man of the year. Or are you talking about Col. West?

Officer of Engineers
03 Jan 04,, 05:35
My apologies, I thought you were asking me what I thought of Col Hickey's actions vis-a-vi what happenned to Col West.

I'm not qualified to choose Man of the Year. I have not known all the situations and all who should qualified and who should not.

Three men stand out in my mind.

Gen Tommy Franks, CENTCOM

For a very impressive OIF with a flexibility and a very situational exploitation that was both bold and nerve wrecking.

Gen Eric Shinseki, CAS

For having the balls and the dignity to swallow his pride and worked behind the scenes to convince Rumsfeld to get back to the 200K man invasion force.

LCol Tim Collins, 1 RIR

His heart steeling speech and for standing up to the same kind of treatment Col West endured. LCol Collins also threatened an EPW with a weapon.

We go to liberate, not to conquer.
We will not fly our flags in their country
We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own.
Show respect for them.

There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly.
Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send.
As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.
Wipe them out if that is what they choose.
But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.

Iraq is steeped in history.
It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham.
Tread lightly there.

You will see things that no man could pay to see
-- and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.

Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.

If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day.
Allow them dignity in death.
Bury them properly and mark their graves.

It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive.
But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back.
There will be no time for sorrow.

The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction.
There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done.
As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.

It is a big step to take another human life.
It is not to be done lightly.
I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts.
I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.

If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.

If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer.
You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest -- for your deeds will follow you down through history.
We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.

(On Saddam's chemical and biological weapons.)

It is not a question of if, it's a question of when.
We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself.
If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.

As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.

Our business now is north.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins,
Battle Group Commanding Officer,
1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment,
16th Air Assault Brigade

03 Jan 04,, 05:39
What do you think of Hugh Shelton OOE? Not in man-of-the-year context, but just in general?

03 Jan 04,, 14:30
Originally posted by Officer of Engineers
LCol Tim Collins, 1 RIR

His heart steeling speech and for standing up to the same kind of treatment Col West endured. LCol Collins also threatened an EPW with a weapon.

I read that speech right after the war began. Your right it is a very good speech.

03 Jan 04,, 15:10
I personally like Time Magazine's person of the year:

The US Soldier.

Officer of Engineers
04 Jan 04,, 03:11
Originally posted by Ironman
What do you think of Hugh Shelton OOE? Not in man-of-the-year context, but just in general?

Clinton apologist though I don't think that it was his intent but it ended up that way.

He executed the dismantling of the US Cold War armies under Clinton's directive. He tried to shield Clinton's military downsizing by renaming the strategic doctrines.

During the Cold War, the US had a two and half war doctrine - to fight the Soviets in both Europe and the Far East while keeping down a 3rd minor war somewhere else, likely Middle East. The Kuwait War was considered a half war by Cold War standards.

Under Clinton, this became a two half war doctrine (ie fight both Iraq and North Korea at the same time) though it was renamed to a Two War doctrine.

However, the lost of combat power is apparent to anyone who ever stood guard at the Fulda Gap on both East and West.

The lost of combat power was most apparent in Task Force Hawk during the Kosovo War, a disaster with more military implications than Black Hawk Down. Even the Canadians outperformed the USArmy at the brigade level.

I don't think Gen Shelton had much choice in the matter but he wasn't the visionary that the DoD needed at the time. He did the best he could under a very poor CINC but he didn't make the hard choices the DoD needed.

04 Jan 04,, 03:28
Even the Canadians outperformed the USArmy at the brigade level.

What about present day?

Officer of Engineers
04 Jan 04,, 04:01
The USArmy recovered under Gen Shinseki. He made the hard choices that Gen Shelton didn't, namely the Stryker Bdes but also the entire infrastructure towards an expeditionary force. Whether you agree with the Stryker Bdes or not, the fact was that people started thinking force projection and how to deliver armies to their theatres faster.

During the Kosovo War, the Canadians were able to deliver a combat reay bde into theatre. TF Hawk was in theatre but not combat ready. That has now changed. Afghanistan is proof enough of that.

Also, the Canadians had to make tough choices of their own because of the lack of funds. Coalition warfare are the only wars we're prepared to fight at the bde lvl, meaning that we can provide a bde to support allied operations but it cannot stand alone. Stand alone ops are restricted to the battle group and combat team lvl.

04 Jan 04,, 04:12
What do you think about the whole Future Combat System?

Think it's the right way, or no?

Officer of Engineers
04 Jan 04,, 04:24
Originally posted by Praxus
What do you think about the whole Future Combat System?

Think it's the right way, or no?

The propagand......errrr, I mean the public relations are doing their job.

The main problem is that the technology ain't ready to deliver and it has become a financial black hole that sucks up needed monies elsewhere. The Crusader, the M1A3, and the Comanchee are the virgin sacrafices to this pie in the sky.

The immediate Objective Force is not being made up of robots and new arm'd vehicles. Instead, they're digitized Strykers/Bradleys/M9s/M1A2s. We're proceeding on the doctrine development on half-assed technological promises using simulated systems.

Then, there is this emphasis on information/intelligence. We need to double/tripple/quadripple the intelligence that we're now getting and processing. We have emphasized finding the enemy so much that we have essentially ignored how to kill the enemy. 3-7Cav is a prime example. They found the Medina - then what? Get surrounded?

04 Jan 04,, 05:03
They found the Medina - then what? Get surrounded?

We did end up destroying a great deal of the division. The Medina was an incompotent fighting force though.