Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking the fight to the US Senate

Today I visited the offices of US Senators who sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee to communicate my opposition to nomination of Major General Joseph Taluto to serve as Director of the Army National Guard. Below is the text of the letter I left with the Senators and their staff.

Re: Nomination of Major General Joseph Taluto to serve as Director of the Army National Guard

Dear Senator:

I wish to communicate to you and your colleagues serving on the Senate Armed Services committee my steadfast opposition to the appointment of Major General Joseph Taluto to serve as Director of the Army National Guard. Based upon his actions surrounding the murder of my husband, Captain Phillip Esposito in Iraq in 2005, I hold that General Taluto is utterly unsuited to hold this position of great trust and that the Senate should reject his appointment. My reasoning is as follows:

In 2005, General Taluto commanded the 42nd Infantry Division, a division defined by its lack of military discipline and disrespect for the rules, regulations and laws that govern the armed forces. Specifically, he oversaw a division in which a staff non-commissioned officer issued repeated threats of murder against his superior officer without any consequence or punishment. Additionally, court records reveal that he oversaw a division that lost nearly a million dollars of battle necessary gear—again with no consequence for those responsible.

When two officers under his command were murdered (to include my late husband), General Taluto oversaw an investigation that was so compromised that it subsequently resulted in the full acquittal of the accused perpetrator. These egregious errors denied justice to those who deserved it, ranging from the perpetrator (who deserved the full weight of the law borne upon him) to the families of the victims of this crime (who deserved the opportunity to live the rest of their lives knowing that proper justice had been served and the deaths of their loved ones had been avenged under the law).

When I approached General Taluto after the death of my husband, while initially supportive, he ultimately became evasive and defensive as it became clear that the larger negative culture of the division that he commanded led to the needless deaths of those in his charge. General Taluto refused to answer even basic questions concerning his responsibilities and the nature of his command over his men. General Taluto displayed a chronic lack of interest for the actions of his men--again, actions which led to the murder of two officers serving under his command. I maintain that even if General Taluto's duties prevented him from having direct knowledge of the actions of those under his command, he is still accountable for the overarching tone that animated his division and the professional actions of his subordinates.

Thus the horror of my life is that my husband's death was avoidable, if only a man like General Taluto had performed his job properly. General Taluto might not have set off the claymore mine that eviscerated my husband, left me a widow and left my daughter a half-orphan, but his inaction and bungling was an unforgivable catalyst for my husband's death and the acquittal of his killer. For this, Major General Joseph Taluto bears ultimate responsibility: the 42nd Infantry Division was his division and his division alone.

At root, I hold that General Taluto's actions reveal that he has nothing less than a callous disregard for the lives and fate of his own men. To somehow maintain that this general has displayed the integrity, trustworthiness and competence necessary to direct the affairs of the entire National Guard is to ignore his repeated and substantive failures. As such, I urge you and your colleagues in the Senate to reject General Taluto's nomination to serve as Director of the Army National Guard.


Mrs. Siobhan Esposito

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