President Obama presents former Army Capt. Will Swenson with the Medal of Honor at the White House on Oct. 15. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s inspector general’s office said the U.S. command in Afghanistan has not adequately tracked nominations for medals and awards.
The inspector general’s office announced the finding in a letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who had raised concerns about delays in awarding former Army Capt. William Swenson the Medal of Honor.
Swenson was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration for valor, for heroism during a battle in 2009 in Afghanistan. He received the medal at the White House last month.
It’s not clear whether the problems in the awards process still exist.
Hunter has raised broad concerns about the awards process becoming politicized. He has said the military intentionally slow-rolled Swenson’s nomination, possibly because Swenson expressed strong disatisfaction that repeated calls for close air support were denied during an investigation into the 2009 battle in the Ganjgal valley.
The Army later acknowledged that close air support was improperly denied.
In a letter to Hunter, the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office said it found no evidence any senior officer mishandled Swenson’s nomination.
But the letter said the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan did not forward the nomination to Central Command, the next step in the chain of command.
“The USFOR-A awards section frequently lost awards, had unreliable processes, and employed inadequate tracking systems,” according to the letter, which was signed by Larry Turner, the IG’s congressional liaison.