Thursday, June 19, 2003

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN LEADERS fail to do their duty and pass their problem soldiers along.

Testimony on SGT Akbar. And it isn't good.
Evangalista, a platoon leader, testified that he had reason to suspect that something was wrong with the sergeant, who Evangalista said had a lengthy history of foul-ups and strange behavior.

''He would pace back and forth, staring at the ground, talking to himself like he was in another world,'' Evangalista said. ''It would give everybody an uneasy feeling.''

Evangalista said he often had to repeat orders to Akbar several times. ''He was looking at me, but when I was done I'd say 'Sgt. Akbar, have you got that?' I'd have to explain it all over again,'' he said.

Testimony from 10 witnesses presented yesterday added to an unflattering portrait of the accused noncommissioned officer.

• Staff Sgt. Billy George Rogers testified that Akbar had called him before deployment to ask if American soldiers would ''rape and plunder'' Iraqi women and children. ''We won't be raping anybody or anything like that,'' the staff sergeant testified he told the soldier.

• Akbar's performance was labeled ''substandard.'' First Sgt. Daniel E. Bates said Akbar was a soldier who needed ''a lot of teaching, coaching and mentoring.''

• His poor leadership skills led some to question whether Akbar should be left at Fort Campbell with the unit's rear detachment when the engineer unit deployed.

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Kumm testified that he recommended that Akbar be left at home.

''I did not want him to deploy. If there had been a job at Fort Campbell, that's where I'd want him to be,'' Kumm said.

Kumm said his request to leave Akbar behind had been denied.

He said superiors replied: ''You will take him. We need the numbers. We need to be at full strength going into Iraq.''

Kumm said he had reason to want to leave Akbar behind.

''Mine was the fourth platoon to get him,'' Kumm testified.

Overall, Kumm said, Akbar was a poor performer in the unit.

''I didn't want him to go because of his inability to lead soldiers and his incompetence as a NCO (noncommissioned officer),'' Kumm said.

Read the rest on this loser here.

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