Capt. Mathew L. Golsteyn was leading a Special Forces team in Afghanistan in 2010 when an 80-man mission he assembled to hunt insurgent snipers went awry. One of the unit’s five vehicles sank in mud, a gunshot incapacitated an Afghan soldier fighting alongside the Americans, and insurgents maneuvered on them to rake the soggy fields with machine-gun fire.
Golsteyn, already a decorated Green Beret officer, responded with calm resolve and braved enemy fire repeatedly that day, according to an Army summary of his actions. He received the Silver Star for valor for his actions during a 2011 ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C. Top Army officials later approved him for an upgrade to the prestigious Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor in recognizing combat heroism by U.S. soldiers.
In a rare reversal, however, Golsteyn, now a major, no longer has either award. The Special Forces officer and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was later investigated for an undisclosed violation of the military’s rules of engagement in combat for killing a known enemy fighter and bomb maker, according to officials familiar with the case. The investigation closed last year without Golsteyn’s being charged with a crime, but Army Secretary John M. McHugh decided not only to deny Golsteyn the Distinguished Service Cross, but also to revoke his Silver Star.
Well, something about this stinks. CPT Golsteyn performed well enough that he was awarded the Silver Star with an upgrade to the DSC recommended, and yet here he comes out with that award revoked.
For the record, I have no real issue with awards being revoked under certain circumstances.
The problem here is, the Secretary of the Army isn’t being clear what those circumstances are. CPT Golsteyn was investigated, and if not cleared, at least not prosecuted. Given the low bar for certain measures, such as a letter of reprimand, one is inclined to believe he was, in fact, cleared.
But we simply don’t know.
Another possibility is that SecArmy McHugh, in a case of fear of any possibility of negative publicity, has decided that merely being investigated means the Army must crush now MAJ Golsteyn’s career.