[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
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
49°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 6
1864 - Actor William S. Hart born in Newburgh, New York [Hart Index]


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, Dec 5, 2016
Construction Worker OK After Falling onto Stake
A construction worker who fell off a four-foot wall at Six Flags Magic Mountain around 4:30 p.m. Monday sustained minor injuries after colliding with a short stake, officials said.
Monday, Dec 5, 2016
DA Jackie Lacey Announces Goals at Oath of Office Ceremony
District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that she plans to focus more attention on protecting children from abuse and neglect and addressing the growing opioid abuse epidemic. She also said she plans to mandate elimination of bias training for all prosecutors.
Monday, Dec 5, 2016
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft in Castaic, Val Verde
Castaic/ Val Verde Crime Report for the week of November 21, 2016 - November 27, 2016
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1864 - Actor William S. Hart born in Newburgh, New York [Hart Index]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Kathryn Barger was sworn in as L.A. County Supervisor for the Fifth District. Plus, the audience at COC's PAC was dazzled by an electrifying performance on Sunday. Check out these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, December 5, 2016
A construction worker who fell off a four-foot wall at Six Flags Magic Mountain around 4:30 p.m. Monday sustained minor injuries after colliding with a short stake, officials said.
Construction Worker OK After Falling onto Stake
District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that she plans to focus more attention on protecting children from abuse and neglect and addressing the growing opioid abuse epidemic. She also said she plans to mandate elimination of bias training for all prosecutors.
DA Jackie Lacey Announces Goals at Oath of Office Ceremony
The California Department of Transportation will close portions of the I-5 between the SR-170 and the Kern County line as part of a sign replacement project.
Dec. 5-9: Caltrans Lane Closures on I-5
The Wings for Life World Run has announced its return to the city of Santa Clarita for the fourth consecutive year, as participants everywhere unite to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Wings for Life World Run Set to Return to Santa Clarita on May 7, 2017
See what's coming from the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Upcoming SCV Chamber of Commerce Events
TV shows, commercials and a student project are currently being filmed in Santa Clarita this week.
Currently Filming in SCV: Germany’s Next Top Model, Fan Slam, Magic Camp
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a $1,945,000.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries.
LASD Receives Grant for Special Traffic Enforcement, Crash Prevention
University of Antelope Valley Men’s (2-5, 1-0 Cal Pac) and Women’s Basketball (5-2, 1-0 Cal Pac) successfully opened up Cal Pac Conference play at La Sierra University in Riverside, CA with two huge wins in two high scoring match-ups.
UAV Basketball Dominates in Cal Pac Opener
Jean Dobre and Wendy Yamada will have the Grand Opening of their new Arthur Murray Valencia Dance Studio, Friday Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 24165 Magic Mountain Parkway.
Dec. 9-10: Arthur Murray Valencia Dance Studio to Host Grand Opening
In a musical holiday extravaganza, the award-winning Hart High School Show Choir will perform “Nightmare Before Christmas” in a whole new way. Rather than bringing the performance to the stage, attendees will be led through a sequence of scenes each telling a piece of this fun holiday story. Groups of 20 will be escorted on their adventure every 20 minutes from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 and between 2 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11 at Hart High School.
Dec. 10-11: Hart Choir to Perform “Nightmare Before Christmas”
Castaic/ Val Verde Crime Report for the week of November 21, 2016 - November 27, 2016
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft in Castaic, Val Verde
1938 - Supervisors award construction contract for jail at Wayside Farms in Castaic (later called Pitchess Detention Center). [story]
1962- Actress and future Soledad Canyon big-cat rescuer Tippi Hedren, "Hitchcock's New Grace Kelly," makes cover of Look magazine for upcoming thriller, "The Birds" [story]
1887 - Prohibitionist Henry Needham purchases land in Newhall, attempts to establish "dry" colony [story]
The Latino Business Alliance will be hosting a "Posada Breakfast" on December 6, which will be an opportunity to network with others in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Dec. 6: Network with Fellow Business Owners at the Posada Breakfast
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Los Angeles, or CASA/LA, a non-profit organization that drastically improves the lives of abused and neglected foster children in LA County through trained volunteer advocates, will be hosting its first CASA Book Fair in collaboration with Barnes & Noble of Valencia December 8.
Dec. 8: CASA/LA Book Fair Fundraiser to be Held at Barnes & Noble in Valencia
The County Interim Health Officer is issuing a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures.
Cold Weather Alert for Antelope Valley, L.A. County Mountain Areas
Just as people plan for retirement, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) urges them to plan for changing needs and abilities in their driving as they age.
CHP Recommends Planning for Senior Drivers
Here it is the end of the year and the culmination of a lot of programs, services and projects for us at the city
Message from the City Manager
Santa Clarita Valley firefighters handled a pair of brush fires Friday, officials said, leaving none injured and no structures threatened.
LACoFD Battle 2 Brush Fires, Both Now Under Control
Stevenson Ranch Crime Report: November 21, 2016 - November 27, 2016
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Petty Theft in Stevenson Ranch
1972 - Five wounded in Vagos biker gang shooting at Curtis & JoAnne Darcy's Acton '49er Saloon [story]
A 23-year-old woman was arrested after she attempted to flee the scene of a hit-and-run crash that left one man in the hospital with major injuries.
Motorcyclist Sustains Major Injuries in Hit-and-Run Crash
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Princess Cruises has agreed to plead guilty to seven charges stemming from its deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up. Plus, retiring L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich shares some inspiring words about achieving your dreams and moving forward. See these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, December 1, 2016
Pocock Brewing Co. will host their 1st Anniversary Beer Festival benefiting the Castaic and SCV Education Foundations this month.
Pocock Brewing to Host Fundraiser for Castaic, SCV Education Foundations
The Valley Industry Association will review and close the 2016 year, and formally install the 2017 Valley Industry Association Board of Directors at their upcoming meeting.
Dec. 20: VIA to Install New Board of Directors
The ALDI grocery store chain is coming to Santa Clarita this month.
Dec. 15: ALDI Grocery Store to Open in Santa Clarita
The Santa Clarita Public Libraries are providing families with plenty of occasions to embrace the spirit of the holidays through the month of December.
Santa Clarita Libraries Embrace Holiday Spirit with Family-friendly Events
The Transportation Research Board announced Thursday that Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty will become chair of its Executive Committee, effective January 12, 2017.
Caltrans Appoints Chair of Executive Committee
An artist named "Six" is hosting an opening reception for the installation piece "Ghost Band."
‘Ghost Band’ Art Installation Comes to ARTree
The 16 Santa Clarita Valley LDS congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are inviting the public to attend their annual Community Christmas Concert.
SCV Latter-day Saints Congregations Host ‘When Love Was Born’ Performance
The Southern California Football Association has announced its 2016 All-League Teams and seven players from College of the Canyons are included among the honorees from the National Division, Northern League.
SCFA Honors Seven COC Football Players
A Valencia man got the chance to participate in as a featured “Trader” in an attempt to avoid “Zonks” and win a sensational selection of prizes on the game show "Lets Make A Deal".
Valencia Man to Appear on ‘Lets Make A Deal’
Bakkavor Foods USA, Inc. is voluntarily recalling Trader Joe’s Mediterranean Hummus and Trader Joe’s White Bean & Basil Hummus with “USE BY” date codes up through and including "12/15/2016," because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Recall: Two Types of Trader Joe’s Hummus Potentially Contaminated by Listeria