Army Overturns Reprimands of Officers in Battle of Wanat

Among Those Reprimanded Is Captain Matthew Myer who Won Silver Star for Repelling the Attack

The Army has reversed a decision to issue letters of reprimand to three officers faulted for their role in the Taliban's deadly attack in July 2008 on an exposed combat outpost in Wanat, Afghanistan, that left nine American soldiers dead and 27 wounded.

The attack remains one of the deadliest battles in the nine-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. Charles Campbell's final investigative report into the incident "withdrew, cancelled and annulled" the administrative punishments he had decided to give the three officers in March of this year.

Letters of reprimand are seen as career-enders in the military because recipients are passed up for promotion.

Campbell originally had determined that the officers should receive the punishments for what he saw as dereliction of duty in failing to prepare adequate defenses at a base that that had been established only days prior to the attack.

But he reversed himself after the officers had an opportunity to appeal the decision and they presented their case.

Silver Star Winner Capt. Matthew Myer Gets Reprieve

Among the three officers no longer receiving the letters of reprimand is Capt. Matthew Myer, the company commander of the unit attacked at Wanat, who had been awarded the Silver Star for his brave actions in repelling the attack. The Silver Star is the military's third highest award for bravery under fire.

The senior officers at the time were battalion commander Lt. Col. William Ostlund and brigade commander Col. Chip Preysler.

Ostlund since has been promoted to colonel and is the deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

Preysler now works for the joint staff at the Pentagon.

Neither was present the day of the battle, but a review of the battle completed in January by U.S. Central Command recommended disciplinary action against them for decisions they had made in setting up the new outpost.

The Centcom review was initiated after families sought a new investigation after an Army historian's research raised questions about the chain of command's role in setting up the base's defenses.

The Army assigned Gen. Campbell to review the Centcom report to determine if punishments were appropriate for the three officers.

Gen. Charles Campbell: 'My Interpretation of the Decisions and Actions Evolved'

In his report today, Campbell said "you can say that my interpretation of the decisions and actions evolved" after he heard from the officers he had initially found deserving of punishment.

He explained that although U.S. casualties occurred at Wanat, "they did not occur as a result of deficient decisions, planning and actions of the chain of command. ... The U.S. casualties occurred because the enemy decided to attack the COP at Wanat and battle resulted. It is critical that we not mechanically equate U.S. casualties with professional error or misconduct."

The families of the nine soldiers killed in the attack received separate briefings today from both Gen. Campbell and Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, who headed the Centcom review, to present their findings.

In an interview with ABC News, David Brostrom, the father of platoon leader 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, who died in the attack, said he was "embarrassed" and "disappointed" by the Army's conclusions.

"It's sad," he said. "There's no closure."

He added, "We were expecting to get some closure and actually got it from Natonski's briefing and he left. And when the Army stood up it was like 'shoot me in the face.' It was totally unprofessional for the way this was handled by the Army."

Brostrom said family members first received Natonski's briefing and heard him outline his report's conclusions that the three officers were guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty. He said they then heard separately from Campbell and heard him explain "that the Army did not accept the majority of the recommendations" that had been made by Natonski's review.

"We were very upset, to say the least," says Brostrom.

He said after grilling Campbell about his decision for an hour and a half, the family members "got up and walked out."

Brostrom and other family members will continue to press Congress to hold hearings into what they see as mistakes made by the chain of command in the battle of Wanat, he said.

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