[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Man On a Mission: Soldier’s ‘Avoidable’ Death Spurs Gold Star Dad to Action | 12-07-2011
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
59°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
May 30
2013 - Powerhouse Fire breaks out in San Francisquito Canyon; will destroy 30 homes & 28 outbuildings [story]


Rudy Acosta was a Santa Clarita boy through and through. Born at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, he attended Santa Clarita Christian School and enlisted in the Army as a medic. He wanted to save lives and become a surgeon.

He shipped off to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010. When he came back home for a visit in January, he came back a man.

Two months later he was dead.

He didn’t step on a land mine. He didn’t get shot by a sniper. He didn’t fall in a firefight.

Rudy and his fellow soldiers were back at their base – safely, by all rights, inside the wire. They were preparing for a mission, cleaning their guns, when an Afghan insurgent masquerading as a protector opened fire on the troops he was hired to guard.

Rudy may have saved one last life as he fell. Reports suggest he may have stepped into a bullet intended for another solider – a woman who credits Rudy for the fact that she is alive today to raise her own family.

Dante Acosta is a man on a mission.

Santa Clarita’s newest Gold Star father has a message for military leaders:

Stop hiring independent contractors for U.S. force protection. Don’t entrust soldiers’ lives to private security firms that hire native residents in an active war zone. Don’t hand an AK-47 to someone who hasn’t been properly vetted.

As it turns out, the Afghan infiltrator had been hired just 10 days earlier and was a security team leader, Dante Acosta said.

Dante Acosta discusses his son's death on "SCV Newsmaker of the Week"

“This was totally avoidable,” Dante said in an “SCV Newsmaker of the Week” interview Tuesday on SCVTV.

While Dante’s message might sound simple and even sensible, his quest for action hasn’t been nearly so simple. Not during troop reductions. Not when the military is shaving $465 billion from its budget over the next 10 years. Not when a congressional supercommittee can’t come to terms and stave off further cuts that could render the U.S. incapable of operating simultaneously in two theaters.

Much has changed in the seven decades since Pearl Harbor. Even in Korea and Vietnam, Navy Seabees cleared most of the airstrips and the Army Corps of Engineers built the bridges and paved the highways. Today, more and more of the functions once performed exclusively by members of the U.S. armed forces are farmed out to private contractors.

Usually that’s because it is more cost-effective to hire contractors. In Afghanistan the situation is more complex. It’s a NATO command, and cost containment isn’t supposed to be the overriding factor in Afghanistan. Instead, U.S. and international forces are supposed to be training Afghans to take over more of the peacekeeping responsibilities.

For Rudy Acosta, the reason for farming out force protection didn’t matter.

Dante Acosta thinks it is worth neither the risk nor the cost.

“We’re penny wise and pound foolish,” he said, letting his experience as a senior financial advisor with UnionBanc Investment Services kick in. Pennies saved on force protection are outnumbered by the dollars lost with the death not only of two trained soldiers – Rudy, 19, and Cpl. Donald R. Mickler Jr., 29, of Ohio – but of two people who would have gone on to become productive, tax-paying members of society.

Dante has taken his message to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee – his own Santa Clarita congressman, Buck McKeon.

McKeon invited Dante to testify in Washington about native security forces in Afghanistan. Dante came away feeling unfulfilled. He said the discussion centered on the Afghan National Army and Afghan border police – “which are not the same thing. Those are actually Afghan governmental agencies.”

Rudy’s case involves “civilians hired by an Afghan subsidiary of a Canadian firm (that) hires local Afghans to guard our soldiers,” Dante said. “I haven’t been successful in having a hearing specifically about this issue.”

At the Sept. 22 hearing, McKeon formally submitted 10 questions on behalf of Dante and his wife, Carolyn Acosta, to Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy.

Answers were supposed to come in 60 days. The deadline passed two weeks ago. McKeon – and the Acosta family – still await a formal Defense Department reply to the questions, which appear below.

Also awaited are the results of an investigation McKeon requested March 28, 2011, nine days after Rudy’s death.

McKeon wrote to then-NATO ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus seeking his “personal assurances that your command will spare no effort to determine the root causes for this and other similar attacks by Afghans employed by the U.S. directly or hired by U.S. funded contractors.”

Also March 28, McKeon wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh, asking him to assess whether U.S. troops were adequately prepared to “detect and possibly prevent attacks by host nation personnel hired by the U.S. Army in support of counterinsurgency operations.”

And in a same-day letter to then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, McKeon requested “a review to ensure that the Department of Defense and all the combatant commands have in place processes and procedures to assess the reliability of host nation personnel … who are contracted, utilized or employed by U.S. military forces.”

Army Spc. Rudy Acosta

“As Dante and Rudy Acosta’s representative,” McKeon told SCVTV in a statement, “it is my duty to make sure that the issues and concerns of my constituents are echoed in Washington.

“As Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, there is no matter I take more seriously than the safety of our service men and women.  There is no greater loss than the loss of a soldier, and as a father I can only imagine the grief that their loved ones bear.

“I share Mr. Acosta’s concerns to ensure the safety of our nation’s sons and daughters who bravely and selflessly answer their country’s call to duty.  I look forward to Mr. Acosta’s continued partnership in our pursuit to best serve the troops who serve our great country.”

Dante Acosta knows it takes time and tenacity to effect change, and he’s determined to commit both to his cause.

“I don’t know that I can rest knowing that we have soldiers over there still in theater (who are) not allowed to protect themselves,” he said. “They’re asked to stand by while there are 90 or so Afghans with AK-47s on our posts, on our bases, and they’re tasked with guarding our troops – to sometimes tragic results.”

“When we had bad body armor going over there, that got changed because the public demanded it,” Dante said. “When the public demands no more foreign nationals guarding our troops as they sleep and eat on their bases, then it will change.”

 

Dante Acota’s “SCV Newsmaker of the Week” appearance will be televised Thursday, Dec. 8, at 9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 8:30 a.m. on SCVTV (Time Warner Cable Channel 20, AT&T U-verse Channel 99, SCVTV.com live stream, with an archived copy on demand at SCVNewsmaker.com).

———-

Questions submitted Sept. 22, 2011, by U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon on behalf of Dante and Carolyn Acosta to Michele Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy:

1. Why do we trust non Americans to guard our troops in a war zone?

2. What are the other options to having contractors like Tundra Security assigned to protecting our troops in wartime and in foreign lands?

3. Who is directly responsible for approving these contracts and implementing this policy?

4. What ties to any US government or foreign governments does Tundra have?

5. What criteria must be met by a contractor to be awarded a contract such as this?

6. Now or in the past have former employees ever worked for any agency of the US Government?

7. Why are these guards allowed on base with loaded weapons?

8. Where is the threat to them or the convoys they escort on the base?

9. What kind of supervision are these guards under?

10. How are the guards trained and who trains them?

 

Army Spc. Rudy Acosta in Afghanistan

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
Loading...
Related Content
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, May 29, 2017
June 1: Knight Town Hall Meeting to be Held at Canyon H.S.
Congressman Steve Knight will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on June 1 at Canyon High School.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Suspected Arson Fire Burns House, Barn in Agua Dulce
Multiple structures and surrounding grass in Agua Dulce burned early Monday morning in what investigators believe to be an arson incident.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Saugus High Seniors Win First Rod Bennett Scholarships
Saugus High School graduating seniors James Klipfel and Diego Rumer received the first two Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund awards at the school's 2017 senior honors ceremony on Tuesday night, May 16.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2013 - Powerhouse Fire breaks out in San Francisquito Canyon; will destroy 30 homes & 28 outbuildings [story]
Skip Spiro's 10-piece Jazz/Blues Project will play a special concert in tribute to Dirk Fischer, the legendary College of the Canyons music department chief and jazz composer-arranger, at Vincenzo's in Newhall on Wednesday, July 26 starting at 7 p.m.
July 26: Skip Spiro Jazz-Blues Big Band Honors Dirk Fischer
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a suspected arson fire left a house and barn in Agua Dulce burned on Monday morning. Plus, veterans were honored at the annual Memorial Day Celebration at Eternal Valley Memorial Park and Mortuary. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, May 29, 2017
After five months of communication in a program designed to encourage elementary-age school children to read and write, a group of students and their Los Angeles Sheriff's Department correspondents finally met in person at George Washington Carver Elementary School on Friday, May 26.
Read on! Elementary Students Meet Their LASD e-Pals
Congressman Steve Knight will be holding a Town Hall Meeting on June 1 at Canyon High School.
June 1: Knight Town Hall Meeting to be Held at Canyon H.S.
Entertainment and attractions continue to be added to the 2017 Touch-A-Truck event benefiting the SCV Senior Center, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at Central Park in Santa Clarita.
June 17: Activities, Entertainment Added to Touch-a-Truck Event
The Master’s University baseball team finally met a team that could outscore it and when No. 2 seed Faulkner broke out the bats in a 13-5 victory, the Mustangs watched the end of a 10-game winning streak and fell into the losers’ bracket at the 2017 Avista-NAIA World Series.
Eagles Take Flight 13-5 Over TMU Mustangs
Multiple structures and surrounding grass in Agua Dulce burned early Monday morning in what investigators believe to be an arson incident.
Suspected Arson Fire Burns House, Barn in Agua Dulce
Carousel Ranch held its 9th annual “How the West Was Won” Shoot Friday, May 19 at Moore N’ Moore Sporting Clays to benefit the kids at Carousel Ranch, raising more than $30,000.
‘How the West Was Won’ Carousel Ranch Event Raises $32K
Upcoming arts and cultural events in the Santa Clarita Valley for the week of May 29-June 1.
May 29-June 1: Santa Clarita Arts Upcoming Events
The Lancaster JetHawks scored three runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to come from behind and knock off the Inland Empire 66ers, 7-6, on Sunday afternoon at The Hangar.
JetHawks Win Sunday in Wild Walk-off Rally
Saugus High School graduating seniors James Klipfel and Diego Rumer received the first two Rod Bennett Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund awards at the school's 2017 senior honors ceremony on Tuesday night, May 16.
Saugus High Seniors Win First Rod Bennett Scholarships
1987 - Director John Landis acquitted of charges in deaths of Vic Morrow and two child actors on Valencia set of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
1888 - Olympian Jim Thorpe, "America's greatest athlete," born in Indian Territory (probably near Prague, Okla.); later in life, appeared in many B-Westerns shot in Placerita Canyon [story]
Brendan Rodgers blasted two home runs and the JetHawks used a six-run sixth inning to pull away from the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, 8-1, on Friday night at The Hangar.
Rodgers Powers JetHawks Over 66ers 8-1 Friday Night
Hamlet Marte hit two of Lancaster’s four home runs to help the JetHawks knock off the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, 9-5, on Saturday night at The Hangar.
Marte Hits 2 Homers, JetHawks Beat 66ers Again
1971 - Community preview night (pre-grand opening), Magic Mountain [story]
West Ranch High School dedicated their new Wall of Honor on Friday, which was produced by four West Ranch High School ASB students.
West Ranch High School Unveils Wall of Honor
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the SCV Senior Center honored those who gave their life in service. Plus, SCVi students are building a "tiny house" for a homeless veteran. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, May 26, 2017
Fourth and fifth graders at Santa Clarita Valley International School are asking for the community’s assistance over Memorial Day weekend with fundraising for a “tiny house” they are building for a homeless veteran.
SCVi Students Raising Funds for Tiny House for Homeless Vet
Plambeck's objective, plain and simple, has always been about stopping development by any means possible. Her strategy involves multiple delay tactics, the worst being groundless litigation.
Chicken Little, Part 2 | Commentary by Dan Masnada
The city of Santa Clarita’s Thursdays@Newhall series, presented by Galpin Subaru, roars into June with a unique lineup of events including a classic Volkswagen car show, James Bond-themed SENSES Block Party and monthly variety show. Old Town Newhall is the hot spot on Thursday nights so grab your friends and family and come down for some fun.
Thursdays@Newhall June Lineup: Classic Volkswagen, James Bond, more
A feeling of delightful gratification for a mentor typically comes about when seeing a mentee develop and realize success. Their reward is in victories the students achieve, which are often seen as a measure of the instructor’s own success, positive influence and guidance. Such is the story of Dr. Luis S. Garcia and the Education Based Incarceration program.
Inmate Earns Doctoral Degree While in L.A. County Jail System
On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging leadership convened at the future location of the new Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and announced that only $2.3 million additional fundraising dollars needed to be raised before construction could begin on the Center.
New SCV Senior Center Waits on $2.3 Mil.
Peter Lambert tossed eight strong innings, but the San Jose Giants came from behind to knock off the JetHawks, 4-2, in the rubber game of the series on Thursday night at The Hangar.
San Jose Giants Beat JetHawks 4-2 Thursday
Ninety percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. It takes 10 minutes or less to learn how to keep a cardiac arrest victim alive until paramedics arrive. The County of Los Angeles Emergency Medical Services Agency, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the American Heart Association are once again coordinating free hands-only CPR training on Sidewalk CPR Day, June 1, at over 50 sites across Los Angeles County to help improve cardiac survivability.
June 1: L.A. County Coordinates Sidewalk CPR Day
When Jeanny Olivares, 22, crosses the stage on Friday, June 2, for College of the Canyons’ Commencement, she will be receiving two associate degrees in marketing and accounting, which she earned in a year-and-a-half’s time.
COC Grad Earns Two Degrees While Facing Adversity
1907 - John Wayne born in Iowa; got start in movies filmed in Placerita Canyon [watch one]
The CLWA-NCWD merger is not a takeover, as Plambeck repeatedly insists. It is the product of months of discussion between two willing parties, which could be terminated at any time by either party or both parties.
Chicken Little, Part 1 | Commentary by Dan Masnada
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, deputies and volunteers trained for an active shooter situation at The Masters University Thursday morning. Plus, a girl is fighting for her life, leaving her family asking the community for blood donations to help her survive. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, May 25, 2017
Dr. Steven J. Golightly, Director of the Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department (CSSD), was recognized on May 22 for his Department’s innovative efforts to improve child support services for L.A. County residents and his zeal for developing future leaders for government service to the public.
County Child Support Services Director Receives Excellence in Government Award
Motown in Town is back on Sunday, June 25 from 5:00 to 10:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.
June 25: Motown in Town 2 at the Hyatt
Hot on the heels of the original Silicon Valley and the more recently named Silicon Beach, the current buzz is all about the Silicon Suburb or Santa Clarita Valley.
Business Incubator Tenant Selected for Festival of Creativity in Cannes
Senator Scott Wilk, R- Antelope Valley, announces that Senate Bill (SB 792), a measure to establish an oversight commission for Los Angeles County Measure B trauma funding has cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and is headed to the Senate floor for a vote.
Oversight of LA County Trauma Care Dollars Given Green Light
Princess Cruises has debuted its 2018-2019 Exotics program which will take guests to culturally rich and iconic cruise destinations around the globe.
Princess Cruises Debuts 2018-2019 Exotics Sailings
Senator Scott Wilk, R- Antelope Valley, announces that Senate Bills 634 (SB 634), a measure which would create a new water district in the Santa Clarita Valley, cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and is headed to the Senate floor for consideration.
SCV Water Agency Merger Bill Clears Senate Panel