Congressman Pushes Army On Why It Revoked Green Beret's Silver Star

February 5, 2015

The Army, citing an investigation but little else, has revoked a Green Beret's Silver Star and rescinded a previous decision to upgrade his award to the Distinguished Service Cross. The service also stripped the officer's Special Forces tab.

While the Army has remained mum on details of the allegation against Maj. Matt Golsteyn, Rep. Duncan Hunter claims the Army could not find one piece of corroborating evidence after a year-and-a-half-long investigation. He also said, in an article published by The Daily Beast, that Golsteyn's men have been threatened and repeatedly promised immunity in order to get them to incriminate the officer, to no avail.

In Februrary 2010, Forward Operating Base McQueary in Marjah, Afghanistan, came under attack. Then-Capt. Golsteyn ran alone through an open field and enemy gunfire as dozens of coalition soldiers were pinned down, according to the Army's account, as relayed by the Washington Post.

After receiving a Silver Star for his actions in 2011, he was later nominated for an upgrade to a DSC.

Golsteyn was subsequently investigated in the unrelated death of an Afghan bomb-maker, according to Hunter's editorial.

"The allegation was presented through informal channels to the Army, which went to extraordinary lengths to investigate Golsteyn. The Army tried to turn up anything it could, but was unable to find one piece of evidence to corroborate the allegation," Hunter wrote.

The Army has not cited what particular rules of engagement Golsteyn broke, or even publicly confirmed the accusation. No charges have been filed against Golsteyn. Golsteyn's attorney Phil Stackhouse told Army Times Golsteyn is not available for an interview.

An August letter from Hunter to Army Secretary John McHugh shared with Army Times notes that Hunter has consistently inquired about the holdup regarding the DSC, approved by McHugh. Hunter's spokesman Joe Kasper said the California congressman, a former Marine officer, has been following the case for about a year, and figured once the investigation failed to reveal evidence of wrongdoing, the DSC would finally be presented.

Instead, on Nov. 17, Hunter's office and Golsteyn learned the officer had been stripped of the honor already presented.

McHugh, in a Nov. 17 letter, said that according to law and Defense Department policy a "medal will not be awarded to anyone whose entire service during or after the time of the distinguished act, achievement or meritorious service has not been honorable." He also cites Army regulations that allow him to revoke the previously-awarded Silver Star on those grounds.

"I firmly believe that had [the USFOR-A Commander] known about the derogatory information that was found by the aforementioned investigation, he would not have awarded Major Golsteyn the Silver Star," McHugh wrote.

Hunter's office, citing anonymous sources, says it was a separate U.S. intelligence agency, not the Army, that initiated the investigation. The Army's investigation found no support for the allegations against Golsteyn, despite interviewing 20 soldiers and offering immunity to Golsteyn's team, according to Kasper. He said he and the congressman have read the soldiers' statements.

Army Criminal Investigations Command conducted an investigation regarding allegations against Golsteyn, confirmed CID spokesman Chris Grey. He said the findings had been "turned over to the appropriate commander and legal authority for action deemed appropriate," and declined to elaborate further.

Kasper said getting information from the Army has been difficult.

"We've been pushing the Army, tell us you have a case against him, tell us what you've got," Kasper told Army Times. "Tell us we're wrong, give us what we got."

Kasper said soldiers have responded to support , including a highly-decorated officer who brought the case to Hunter's attention. That officer, Kasper said, called Golsteyn "the best operator" he knew in the Army.

In his Daily Beast article, Hunter accuses the Army's generals of "acting like politicians," and notes that "only 27 percent of the military felt senior leaders looked out for their best interests," citing a Military Times poll. In an Aug. 11 letter to McHugh, Hunter said finally granting the DSC to Golsteyn would "go a very long way to restoring integrity to the investigations process."

Golsteyn, whose decorations still include a Bronze Star with V device and Army Commendation Medal with V, publicly criticized the strategy in Afghanistan in the 2011 book "The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan."

In the book, author Bing West quotes Golsteyn as saying: "We're the insurgents here and we're selling a poor product called the Kabul government. The district governor has been Taliban for years. The people believe Kabul's the enemy."

The major later wrote a paper at Fayetteville State, available online, about bottom-up nation-building using lessons learned in Afghanistan, describing some successes there and the keys to them.