Captain Khan's former commander: Attack on gold star family 'un-American'

Captain Khan’s former commander, retired Major General Dana Pittard, has written a piece for the Washington Post in which he praises Khan and defends his family:

I am a former soldier who served our nation in uniform for more than 34 years. I was also Capt. Humayun Khan’s combat brigade commander in Diyala province, Iraq, in 2004. I came to know Humayun after taking command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in Germany in 2002. The motto of our unit was “No mission too difficult. No sacrifice too great. Duty First!” Humayun was a wonderful person, liked and respected by all who knew him. I used to joke with him about the tank platoon he once led, which I had led 20 years earlier. I often told him that we were kindred spirits. I remember clearly the day he died.

Pittard explains that in 2004 he was working at a forward operating base called Camp Warhorse. He says the base had over 1,000 Iraqis working there which meant people coming and going during the day. On two occasions, taxi drivers who failed to stop when ordered had been shot by guards. The drivers were not militants and the negative reaction to these shootings was hurting the U.S. effort to win over people in the area. So when a taxi came rolling slowly through the barriers on June 8, 2004, Captain Khan moved toward it:

Humayun probably moved toward the suspicious vehicle to avoid killing the driver unnecessarily, but at some point, he concluded that something was wrong and ordered his men to hit the dirt. The driver detonated his car bomb, killing Humayun and two Iraqi citizens. Humayun died trying to save the lives of innocent Iraqis. His brave effort to approach the vehicle probably saved American lives as well.

Pittard notes that the Battalion headquarters building at Camp Warhorse was named in Khan’s honor. He also offers a dig at Donald Trump saying fallen soldiers in Iraq, “represented sacrifice, service, duty and the essence of what makes our country great. And, yes, it is a great country right now. Despite our flaws, the United States remains a beacon of hope around the world.”

Pittard concludes by expressing support for Khan’s gold star family and condemning any attacks on them as “un-American”:

I join all those who stand in support of the Khan family. This family is our family, and any attack on this wonderful American Gold Star family is an attack on all patriotic and loyal Americans who have sacrificed to make our country great. Any politically or racially motivated attack on the Khans is despicable and un-American.

That’s pretty strong language and will undoubtedly raise questions about what motivated Pittard to say something at this moment. Perhaps suspecting these questions will come, Pittard writes that his family has been Republican since the 1920 and that he is a Republican as well, though he admits to voting for both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

Not mentioned in the story is that Pittard apparently once served as a military adviser to President Bill Clinton. Perhaps Pittard has no personal feelings for the Clintons, who were not known for being especially cozy with the military. Still, the fact that he once worked for the Democratic nominee’s husband (and not just in the general sense that all soldiers serve the President) seems worth mentioning given the political import of what Pittard is writing here.

Ed Morrissey Jan 28, 2022 8:31 AM ET