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DoD News Briefing with Secretary Geren and Gen. Cody from the Pentagon

Presenters: Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody
July 31, 2007 3:00 PM EDT

           BRIGADIER GENERAL ANTHONY CUCOLO (chief of Army, Public Affairs): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  I'm Tony Cucolo, chief of Army, Public Affairs.  Today's briefing will detail the steps taken by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren -- and the results were reviewed by the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, General William Wallace -- into the report supporting the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.  This includes the March 26th, 2007 DOD inspector general's report into matters related to the 2004 friendly fire death, as well as the related investigation by U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.  

 

The secretary of the Army, Mr. Pete Geren, and the Army vice chief of staff, General Richard Cody, each have a brief statement, and then we'll take their questions.  In addition, we also have with us a panel of experts should we need to refer to them for questions.  With us with have Special Agent Frederick Stonesifer of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command; Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Kuczero, Army Military Awards branch; Mr. Dennis Fringeli, who is from our Casualty and Mortuary Affairs branch; and Colonel Chuck Pede from the Judge Advocate General's.  And again, they're available should questions come up in their specialties.  

 

            And with that, ladies and gentlemen, our secretary of the Army, Mr. Geren, our vice chief of staff, General Cody.  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Thank you, General Cucolo.  Thank all of you for being here today.  

 

            On April 22nd, 2004 at 6:45 p.m., Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed in the outskirts of a tiny village of Magar, Afghanistan.  He was killed by his fellow Rangers whom he had risked his life to save. Today, three years and three months later, we present to you the results of the Wallace investigation into the tragic death of Corporal Pat Tillman, one of the multiple investigations that became necessary because of mistakes and misjudgments made by the Army in the days following his death and the follow-on reviews of those failings; errors and failures of leadership that confused and misinformed the American people and compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family.  

 

            The errors we made not only led to additional investigations, but also created in the mind of many a perception that the Army intended to deceive the public and the Tillman family about the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death.  Many have come to believe that the Army manipulated that tragedy to serve ends other than the pursuit of truth, deceiving a grieving family and violating our duty to a fallen comrade.  Considering the consolation of errors, this perception of deceit is understandable, but it is not supported by the facts found in the multiple investigations, including the DOD IG report and the recent review completed by General Wallace.    

 

            The Wallace investigation confirmed the results of the DOD IG report on this key point.  The soldiers who handled the investigation and family notification made many mistakes.  They did not follow Army regulations or DOD policy but they did so unknowingly with no intent to deceive.  They had evidence of fratricide and initiated a friendly fire investigation the day after Corporal Tillman's death, with the intention of finding the truth and releasing their results upon completion.  Mistakenly they conducted their work believing that they were to keep all information close-hold, including keeping it from the family until the investigations were complete and approved by higher authority.    

 

            The soldiers on the ground kept their chain of command fully informed.  Almost incredibly but true, this misunderstanding of Army regulations and policy about secrecy was shared up and down the chain of command, up to and including Lieutenant General Kensinger, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.  As a result, the truths ultimately uncovered by their investigations were kept from the Tillman family and the public for a month while misinformation went unchallenged and uncorrected.    

 

            They conducted the investigation with a plan to release the results upon conclusion, undermining any notion that there was a conspiracy on their part to deceive the public.  The misperception of deceit was compounded by questions surrounding the award of Corporal Tillman's Silver Star and erroneous information disseminated in the hours immediately following his death.  Sadly these lingering questions have obscured and detracted from Corporal Tillman's undisputed heroism -- which is, in itself, a tragedy.    

 

            Corporal Tillman died going to the aid of his fellow rangers, who were under enemy attack, and his actions saved the life of the man next to him and possibly others.  The Army did not make Pat Tillman a hero; his actions made Pat Tillman a hero.  An overused term, but there was a perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments, and a failure of leadership that brought us where we are today, with the Army's credibility in question about a matter that strikes at the very heart of Army core values -- our commitment to our fallen soldiers and their grieving families; soldiers' loyalty to fallen soldiers.    

 

            Following the release of the IG report, I directed General Scott Wallace, a veteran battlefield commander and four-star general, to review all the findings of the IG report and consider issues of accountability.  He reviewed all of the previous investigations in the  accompanying evidence and testimony and passed judgment on the officers identified by the DOD IG and one additional officer.  He reviewed the conduct of 10 officers, took action against seven, including four general officers.    

 

            Let me briefly discuss the actions concerning Brigadier General Nixon and Colonel Bailey, then Colonel Nixon and Lieutenant Colonel Bailey, who were named in the DOD IG report and figured prominently in the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.    

 

            Each receives written counseling from General Wallace in the form of a memorandum of concern.  Brigadier General Nixon, the regimental commander, made errors, although unknowingly, by keeping the fratricide investigation close-hold and not informing his own staff. Brigadier General Nixon did, however, timely notify General Kensinger -- he's the SOC commander -- and Major General Stanley McChrystal, JTF commander, of Corporal Tillman's death and his initiation of the friendly fire investigation.  

 

            Wallace determined that Colonel Bailey, the battalion commander who received a memorandum of concern -- he received it because of his handling of punishment against the Rangers involved in the shooting of Corporal Pat Tillman; it had nothing to do with the investigation of Tillman's circumstances of his death, other than the conduct of the Rangers in firing upon Tillman's position.  

 

            Both of these officers were forthcoming in the reviews of their actions and were found innocent of any attempt to cover up the truth in the Tillman matter.  Both were in the war zone in Afghanistan and kept their leaders back home regarding Pat Tillman's death in the friendly fire investigation fully informed.  

 

            Additionally, Brigadier General Farrisee, U.S. Army director of Military Personnel Management, was not among the nine officers identified in the DOD-IG report, but she was included by General Wallace in his investigation.  

 

            General Wallace learned of the telephone call between General Farrisee and the armed forces medical examiner regarding inconsistencies in preliminary reports on the death of Corporal Tillman.  General Wallace concluded that General Farrisee failed to follow up and ensure that the armed forces medical examiner concerns were properly resolved.  While not directly a part of the issues raised by the DOD-IG report or other investigations, General Wallace provided written counseling to General Farrisee through a memorandum of concern.  

 

            General Wallace did find a senior official, Lieutenant General Kensinger, a senior leader in the administrative chain of command for the 75th Ranger Regiment -- found him guilty of deception, not in the handling of the friendly fire investigations or in the reporting of Corporal Tillman's death but in later investigations, one which was seven months later after Corporal Tillman's death, and the second time was in the DOD-IG investigation two years later.  

 

            General Wallace concluded that Lieutenant General Kensinger deceived investigators about what he knew and when he knew it.  He made false official statements, but that his deception played no role in the key events and the misunderstandings and misinformation immediately following Corporal Tillman's death.  

 

            Wallace found further that Kensinger failed in his duty to inform the family about the friendly fire incident in a timely manner as required by Army regulations.  He failed to appointed a required safety board to investigate the tragedy as required by Army regulations, and he failed to inform the acting secretary of the Army of the investigation into friendly fire.  

 

            For the other officers consistent with the DOD-IG report, Wallace found mistakes, unknowing violations of regulations, poor judgment, but found no intentional deception, and rendered his decision on each officer.  

 

            General Wallace filed an official reprimand against Lieutenant General Kensinger for his deception and for the other failings in the discharge of his duties as the senior leader in the administrative chain of command for Tillman's 75th Ranger Regiment.    

 

            After my review of Lieutenant General Kensinger's conduct and performance of his duties, I concluded further that General Kensinger comprised his duty to the acting secretary of the Army by providing a report including information he knew to be false, which was his own sworn testimony, undermining the principle of civilian control of the Army.  Further, I concluded that he failed to provide proper leadership to the soldiers under his administrative control in the 75th Ranger Regiment.  He let his soldiers down.  

 

            I censured him for his conduct and referred him to an Army Grade Determination Review Board to determine the question of the highest grade in which he served satisfactorily, for purposes of his retirement.    

 

            To sum up my conclusion regarding Lieutenant General Kensinger, let me mix my service metaphors.  For casualty notification, safety investigation and administrative control of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, General Kensinger was the captain of that ship, and his ship ran aground.  It ran aground because he failed to do his duty.    

 

            There were casualties with the credibility of the United States Army on a matter of almost sacred importance to Army and soldiers, a soldier's duty to a fallen comrade, and compounding of the unspeakable grief for the Tillman loved ones.   

 

            Brigadier General Nixon and Colonel Bailey made mistakes, but they kept Lieutenant General Kensinger informed of the key facts regarding Corporal Tillman's death and the investigation.  Nixon and Bailey were in Afghanistan, conducting secret missions against a ruthless enemy.  They were in the fight 24/7.  They had every reason to expect that if they kept their leaders in their administrative chain of command informed, their leaders would do their duty, which included proper family notification and timely safety reviews.  

 

            Lieutenant General Kensinger failed in his duty to his soldiers, and the results were a calamity for the Army that we continue to suffer from today.  Had Lieutenant General Kensinger done his job, fulfilled his multiple duties as a senior leader in the administrative  chain of command, we would not be here today, three years later, attempting to correct the record and restore the credibility of the Army on this critical matter.  

 

            For the nine other officers reviewed by General Wallace, I accepted his decisions with no further action.  The press release provides further detail on Wallace's decisions.  

 

            Let me summarize the matters that have been addressed and decided by the now seven investigations.  

 

            One, Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire in a tragic accident, not by criminal misconduct.  

 

            Two, there was no attempt by the Army or soldiers to cover up the manner of his death.  In fact, the soldiers of his regiment initiated a friendly fire investigation the day after he was killed.  

 

            Three, from the outset, the soldiers conducting the investigation intended to release the results to the family and to the public upon their completion of the investigation.   

 

            And four, Pat Tillman fully deserved his Silver Star for his courageous actions on the day he died.  

 

            In conclusion, let me speak for the Army and again offer our heartfelt condolences to the Tillman family.  Our Army grieves the loss of every soldier.  Pat Tillman is one of over 3,000 soldiers who volunteered to defend our nation in this time of war and who gave their lives for our country.  

 

            And his family -- his mother, father, brothers and wife -- will forever grieve his loss, grief that was compounded by the failing of his Army.  

 

            We have a duty to all families of our fallen soldiers:  give them the truth, the best we know it, as fast as we can.  We failed in that. For that, his Army and his comrades in arms are deeply sorry.  

 

            Thank you.  

 

            General Cody.  

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary --  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  I'd like to, if I could, withhold questions until General Cody finishes his remarks.  Thanks.  

 

            GEN. CODY:  We'll get to the questions right after I have my statement.  

 

            Mr. Secretary, thank you.    

 

            I don't have much to add to what Secretary Geren has just outlined for you, except to reinforce that your Army holds itself accountable when mistakes are made.  Our Army is a learning institution that constantly improves though lessons learned, and absolutely cares for and has no greater priority than our soldiers and their families.  

 

            This weekend I visited the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where our troops are going through very tough training as they prepare to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.  

 

            While there, our troops were interviewed by some of your colleagues. A young private first class from the Kentucky Army National Guard was asked what he most feared and most worried about, what weighed on him as he prepared to go to his first deployment into combat.  The PFC looked around at the faces of his squad and answered what he worried about most was that one of his buddies wouldn't come home; that he would let someone down and lose a friend, a brother soldier.    

 

            What that PFC voiced is what every soldier who has been through the crucible of combat knows.  To lose a friend in a fight is a gut- wrenching experience that changes you forever.  To cause the death of another soldier is simply an unthinkable horror that you may never come to terms with.  Corporal Pat Tillman's death, like the death of the thousands of his brothers and sisters in arms, is a personal and national loss.  To lose a soldier, regardless of the circumstances, is a difficult consequence of this war that we must cope with as a soldier, as a nation and as an Army.    

 

            At a time when we're asking so much of our soldiers and of their families, essentially for our soldiers to be the shield between this nation and the terrorists who would see the United States defeated, we as an Army must rely even more on our values, our integrity, our warrior ethos to remain strong for this nation.  

 

            Because of these values and this warrior ethos, we all bear the weight of the mistakes and failures in leadership by those who wear this uniform.  Such is the case in the aftermath of Corporal Tillman's loss; the untimely and inaccurate notification of his family, and the mishandled investigations that followed.  

 

            I cannot emphasize enough how disappointing it is, both professionally and as a father of two soldiers personally, that those who knew chose not to inform the Tillman family immediately that friendly fire was suspected and that we had ongoing investigations.    

 

            We can never do with any investigation, report or offer apology that will ease the additional pain the Tillman family has had to bear because of our Army's failures.  As an Army, we have held ourselves accountable, we've taken corrective action, we've instituted important changes.  Through it all, we have drawn the strength from the sacrifices by those soldiers we have lost and the families that they have left behind.  Our soldiers have continued with the mission and taken the fight to the enemy, as their fallen comrades would have wanted them to.  

 

            I spent this weekend with our great troops, talented young leaders, incredible noncommissioned officers, many of whom are preparing for their third combat tour, which will last for 15 months. I listened to their concerns, their determination, their incredible faith in one another, their faith in this Army and their faith in the American people.  I came away assured that we are still the finest Army in the world, made up of the strongest generation that this nation has ever seen, a generation and an Army that includes Corporal Pat Tillman, who on April 22nd, 2004, while shielding this country, made the ultimate sacrifice.    

 

            To his fellow soldiers who continue to serve today, I say just as we share in what goes wrong, we should, with great pride, share in the incredible discipline, determination, strength and accomplishment of those who wear this uniform and continue to fight so hard with such incredible courage and strength (to remain ?) an unyielding shield to this great nation.  

 

            With that, the secretary and I will take your questions.  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  (Off mike.)  

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, can you give us an idea of the range of punishment that you considered for General Kensinger?  In other words, how did you settle on this?  Was there something more severe, less severe, in the middle?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  The decision I made was to censure him and to refer him to the grade determination board to determine which grade he served honorably in for purposes of his retirement.  That board will make a recommendation to me on whether or not he is able to keep his third star.    

 

            I did consider a range of punishments.  I had under my consideration extremes that went from court martial, on one end, to a memorandum of concern on the other end, as did General Wallace. General Wallace had the full range of punishments at his disposal. Additionally, he had an Article 15 possibility; I did not have that.  

 

            I considered the possibility of a court martial.  I considered it long and hard, and for various reasons decided that it was not the best approach to address these circumstances.  I decided a letter of censure was the way to address his shortcomings and set up the grade determination board to  judge how he served in his service as lieutenant general.  

 

            Q     Was part of your decision the realization that a court martial would just take this whole affair around again?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  I looked at many factors.  There are evidentiary issues.  As a court marital convening authority, you have to consider this from the perspective of judge and jury, and many different factors entered into my consideration, and certainly that was one. But my goal is to find the truth and to find accountability, and would have chosen that course of action had I felt that that would be the best way to serve justice.  

 

            Q     Do you expect this to be the end of the Tillman affair?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  We have now had seven investigations.  The facts that have been in dispute through the course of this investigation, the key facts, I believe now have been addressed and have been settled.  I know there will be continuing interest in this issue, but I believe that the facts that are key to this matter have been  resolved and consensus has been found on those by all seven investigations, so I don't know what else could be added.  

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary?  

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, could you explain -- we understand that Lieutenant General Stan McChrystal, who was singled out in the DOD IG report for inaccurate awards information -- can you explain why he will not receive any punishment?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  General Wallace considered General McChrystal's conduct, as did I.  Two matters of importance.  One is, General McChrystal, when notified of the friendly fire incident, he alerted, through his P-4, General Abizaid, General Brown and General Kensinger. So he did notify his chain of command.  As regulations would require, it was not exactly how regulations would require that he did it, but he accomplished the intent of the regulation.  

 

            As far as approving the Silver Star award, General McChrystal said that he was aware of the circumstances of his death, that it was friendly fire, when he approved the Silver Star award.  

 

            And General Wallace concluded and I agree that he reasonably based his conclusions on the recommendations that came from the field and had no reasonable basis to call into question the recommendation that came up endorsed by the commanders in the field who were there and had first- hand knowledge of the circumstances of his death and his heroic actions.  

 

            Q     You said there was no intentional deception here with all these officers involved, but do you have a better understanding today about why this happened?  Was this an embarrassing episode that people were grappling how to deal with?  How do you explain it?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Let me speak to that, but I'd also like General Cody to talk to it as well.  

 

            This was a tragedy.  This was a tragedy that befell soldiers of the world's greatest light infantry.  They don't make many mistakes. This was an accident.  The CID reviewed the matter and determined it was an accident, and it explained how it happened under those circumstances.  The Army Rangers took disciplinary action against the Rangers in response to what happened here.  

 

            From the very beginning, the Rangers were very transparent and open about how they handled this matter, and as I review all the matters that were considered by the investigations of conduct of all the officers until such time as we had that investigation seven months later, there was never any effort to mislead or to hide or try to avoid embarrassing information coming public.  They -- when the investigation into the friendly fire was going on, the soldiers mistakenly believed that they were supposed to keep that close-hold until they finished the investigation.  

 

            General Cody, if you could speak to the Ranger issue.  

 

            GEN. CODY:  Well, I think the secretary has given you a good lay down of what happened.  Each one of the investigations, as we looked at it and plus the review that the secretary and I did, determined that the delay in notifying the family was just as the secretary said, at every level from the Ranger company to the Ranger battalion to the Ranger regiment then back to USASOC, United States Army Special Operations Command.  Because the mission that they were on in Afghanistan was a classified mission working for Joint Special Operations Command, every part of their actions were treated as secret.  

 

            However, at a point at regimental headquarters for casualty reporting and up through USASOC it should have been administrative, and that's where this thing broke down, quite frankly, in my review of it.  The fact that the reporting was close-hold, very few people at the battalion staff knew about it, very few people at the regimental headquarters knew about it, very few people at the USASOC three-star headquarters knew about it, and so the mechanisms that we have in place in other units that don't keep those things close-hold -- the lawyers, the personnel, people that process casualty notification that are very familiar with the fact that if you have a suspected fratricide, you have to correct the report and send it up immediately; the fact that you require a safety investigation -- all of those things did not kick in because of the close-hold nature of waiting for the final -- in their mind, the final investigation, which was done by a lieutenant colonel.  

 

            And then they thought they couldn't say anything until it was finally approved and then signed, and that's what caused this thing to break down.  And we have since put changes in place to make sure our leaders know how to handle these.  

 

            Q     But if McChrystal is sending a message to Abizaid saying it's highly possible it was friendly fire, why couldn't McChrystal just have called the family?  

 

            GEN. CODY:  Because in the casualty reporting business, those forces that -- under Joint Special Operations Command are chopped to him in an operational control status or attached, as you know.  The administrative control in processing for casualty reporting, we do not encumber the JSOC commander with all of that; that's done by the regiment and done by the Army through the United States Army Special Operations Command.  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  So it was General Kensinger's responsibility.  What McChrystal was charged to do, that is, alert his chain of command -- which he did -- and that's -- in addition to General Abizaid, he also notified Doug Brown and Kensinger, who had already been notified.  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  (Go ahead ?).  

 

            Q     Yeah, Secretary, General, to both of you, as you well know, the Tillman family doesn't accept really any of this.  They believe there was an intentional cover-up.  They believe that these punishments are not really punishments and are inadequate.  What do you say to the Tillman family?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Well, I can understand, considering how the Army mishandled this matter from very early on, how they would reach the conclusion that I'm afraid many Americans have reached, that there was a cover-up.  The facts just don't support that conclusion.  The facts show clearly -- and I've walked through them in the course of my remarks -- that there was no cover-up.  There was misinformed action on the part of multiple soldiers, and you had a perfect storm of mistakes by many soldiers.  Until you reach the point where there was an investigation seven months later, there was no finding of any deception.  

 

            The Tillman family lost a loved one.  It's a pain that I cannot imagine as a parent.  I offer my condolences to them, not only for the loss, but my apologies to them for how the Army mishandled this and  how we compounded the grief that they had suffered over the last three years.  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  (Off mike.)  

 

            Q     Three years, three months later, and numerous investigations into it, have you all determined an overall cost of looking into this matter?  And have you also, in looking into it, found other cases similar to this -- the Corporal Tillman case?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  We have not calculated the cost.  Our commitment is to find the truth, and whatever that takes and whatever the cost -- I have not stopped to tally the cost either in dollars or in personnel hours.  We have -- many soldiers have stepped up to seek the truth in this, and the information we share with you today is a result of those efforts.  

 

            I have not found a situation comparable.  And in fact in my review of General Kensinger specifically, his conduct, I did seek to review precedent, to try to find precedent that was -- bore on this decision and really found nothing that came very close.    

 

            Yes, sir.    

 

            Q     Gentlemen, I'd just like to unwrap the two aspects of it on the, as General Cody said, the basic answer why you believe there was no deception at the local level was a mistaken belief throughout, that it should be close-held until the investigation was complete.  The family was notified five weeks later.  Was that when the investigation was complete?    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  It was when the investigation was complete, and they did understand that the 15-6 investigation had to be signed off on by Central Command.  So General Sattler, the J-5, acting on behalf of General Abizaid, signed off, and it was after that that the --   

 

            Q     That was the five-week -- (off mike).    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Yes.    

 

            Q     Time frame.    

 

            Going up to General -- Lieutenant -- now Major -- or soon to be perhaps Major General Kensinger, sorry.    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Kensinger.    

 

            Q     You've answered -- you've come up with an answer of why you think people on the ground mistakenly believed they should close-hold that information.  In disputing the cover-up idea, what is the answer as to why General Kensinger deceived the investigators?  And in fact when you say there was no cover-up, is, in fact, he charged with not the initial mistake but covering up?  That is, lying to investigators?   

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Your first question:  How do we explain how he handled the matter in the aftermath of the tragedy?  He believed, as did all the soldiers in his command, that you kept this information close-hold, including not tell the family, until such time as the investigation was complete.  Contravention of Army regulations and DOD policy, but that is what he believed.  It --   

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- it took place after the five-week period, I'm sorry.    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  (Off mike.)    

 

            Q     The offense that he's charged with took place after the --   

 

            GEN. CODY:  Seven months later.    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Seven months later.    

 

            Q     Much later than the five-week period.    

 

            GEN. CODY:  Yeah.    

 

            SEC. GEREN:  Right, and in that case, he was asked about when he knew about the friendly fire investigation, and he provided false official statements to the investigator and later to the DOD IG.  He had said earlier that had he known what he was supposed to do, he would have done it.  He didn't know either.  But what General Wallace found, and I agree with this conclusion, is that General Kensinger, when faced with questions about what he knew, when he knew it, chose to provide false official statements.    

 

            Q     So whatever deception he may have engaged in as was found was not to cover up anything that happened on the ground.  It was to cover up his own role and behavior afterwards.    

 

            GEN. CODY:  I think that's the great thing that we need to fully understand.  Throughout every investigation, the seven investigations, at the company command level -- well, first off, right at the platoon level, within 24 hours, an after-action review was done, and all the soldiers were asked and they went through what happened in that valley.    

 

            And then you had the investigation by Captain Scott, and then you had a follow-on investigation directed by the regimental commander. Then -- that was the one that was waiting to be signed.  

 

            Through all of that, up and down the chain, all the investigations found that everybody that was dealing -- was trying to seek the truth and be 100 percent sure that this was a fratricide, not an enemy, or vice versa.  They wanted to be 100 percent sure, so that when they told the family, they got it right this time.  

 

            And so as the investigators looked at it and verified by the DOD IG, as well as General Scott Wallace, from General Kensinger all the way down to the company level, everybody was seeking the truth to make sure that they got it right.  And that is why General Wallace came to those conclusions.  

 

            The second part of it, after -- once the large investigation was directed by then-acting Secretary Les Brownlee, seven months later, that is when who knew what when came into play.  And it had nothing to do with suppressing or anything else.  It's "when did you know about the friendly fire," and it goes to the timely notification of the family.  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  And you'll see it in the information in the reprimand from General Wallace, as well as in my censure -- General Wallace concluded that General Kensinger provided false official statements in order to protect himself from criticism.  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  Then we go to Courtney.   

 

            Q     Two quick questions.  Would you know when the board will convene, and how -- will that information will be released publicly?   

 

            And then second, Mr. Secretary, the Tillman family has spoken to the media several times, and they've been unhappy with these first seven investigations.  What will you do, what will you say to them if they're unhappy again with these findings and they want to pursue this further?  Will you continue to investigate again, or --  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  As far as the Grade Determination Board, I have directed the assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs to convene the board.  And because Lieutenant Kensinger was a three-star, the board will be made up of four-star generals.  He will convene it as quickly as possible.  I can't give you any time a certain for when they will complete their work.    

 

            They will conduct a review, they will give General Kensinger an opportunity to respond, and then they will make a recommendation to me.  It's a non-binding recommendation, but they'll make a recommendation to me.  

 

            As far as what we do to meet the very understandable needs of the Tillman family, I understand how they have grown to believe that they do not trust the credibility of the Army handling this matter.  We have made mistakes over and over and over, an incredible number of mistakes in handling this.  

 

            And we destroyed our credibility in their eyes as well as in the eyes of many others as well.  And what we have done here is do our best to determine what the truth is and do our best to explain to them and to the country what we have found.  And I don't know more that we can do.  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  Any last questions?  Last question.  

 

            Q     You've described a litany of errors and mistakes going more than three years involving a lot of people, yet all the blame falls on General Kensinger.  I'm just trying to make some sense of that.  He happens to be retired.  Is there a coincidence there?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  The fact that he --  

 

            Q     Lots of people did lots of things wrong it seems, but he's the only one who's really being singled out with the harshest punishment.  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  When you look at all of the events that have led to where we are today, the misinformation, the misunderstanding, and you look at what General Kensinger's role was, and had he performed his job properly, had he performed his duty, we wouldn't be standing here today.  He should have upon notification that it was friendly fire should have convened a safety board.  That safety board would have been an outside group of eyes, would have gone into theater and would have immediately commenced an investigation and would have had an outside-of-the-chain-of-command review of this situation as well as recommendations on how we make sure it doesn't happen again.  

 

            He, as the administrative chain of command senior leader, he also had the casualty notification responsibility.  When he became aware that there was friendly fire suspected, under Army regulations he is supposed to notify the family that the cause of death is under investigation.  He knew that as early as, I believe, the 25th, but certainly no later than the 29th before the May 3rd memorial, before this matter had gotten very far along.  And had he done his duty then and notified the family, we wouldn't be standing here today.  Had he notified the secretary of the Army, Les Brownlee, as he should have done, we also would have had an opportunity to ensure that the family notification was done properly, the safety board was done properly, and also would have given an opportunity to make sure that the 15-6 was done properly.  

 

            So I believe the buck stops with General Kensinger.  He was the senior leader in the chain of command for administrative control for the 75th Ranger Regiment.  Had he done his job, all these other errors, these innocent errors but serious errors, they would have been harmless errors had he done his job.  

 

            Q     Are there any officers that you didn't mention that received letters of concern, letters of reprimand; or are the only people that you've mentioned today the ones who've gotten any type of punishment?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  There are other officers who received punished as well as members of the Ranger platoon that were punished.  The Army long-standing DOD policy is not discuss any type of sanctions for officers below general officer grade.  So everybody else that was reviewed by General Wallace or was sanctioned as a member of the Ranger team, they were below general officer grade, and we don't discuss those sanctions publicly.  

 

            Q     Can I get one more in before we go?  

 

            GEN. CUCOLO:  It's up to the secretary.  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  (Inaudible.)  

 

            Q     Just one more?  The family has spoken a lot about Secretary Rumsfeld, and the congressional committee tomorrow has invited Secretary Rumsfeld to schedule -- to testify.  Is there anything in any of this that indicates that Secretary Rumsfeld had knowledge of this, knowledge of the likelihood of friendly fire before it was publicly known and before the Tillman family knew about it?  

 

            SEC. GEREN:  I have no knowledge of any evidence to that end.  

 

            Thank you.  Thanks a lot.

 

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