Every war must produce a rogues gallery–rogue troops who dishonor and shame our country. Stories of these pitiful few, unfortunately, seem to take on a life of their own and almost define the war, like stories of My Lai and Lt. Calley during the Vietnam War. Abu Ghraib certainly got its fair share of publicity during the heat of the Iraq War. Now a few bad men seem to be tarnishing the work of all those brave men and women who have served in Afghanistan.

The front page of the Washington Post tells a horror story of rogue soldiers who killed Afghans for sport. The father of one of the men accused tried to alert the army after being told of atrocities by his son on the Internet. The father reported that he had been rebuffed and now his son stands accused along with others. The military has also been accused of ignoring warnings.



Basically, the Washington Post reported the following:

For weeks, according to Army charging documents, rogue members of a platoon from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, floated the idea. Then, one day last winter, a solitary Afghan man approached them in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. The “kill team” activated the plan.

One soldier created a ruse that they were under attack, tossing a fragmentary grenade on the ground. Then others opened fire.

According to charging documents, the unprovoked, fatal attack on Jan. 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree against Afghan civilians that resulted in some of the grisliest allegations against American soldiers since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones


Those charged are from Boise, Idaho, Las Vegas, Wasilla, Alaska and Billings, Montana. Additionally, a soldier from Coral Gables, Florida was charged. He is who alerted his father to the killings:

On Feb. 14, Christopher Winfield, a former Marine from Cape Coral, Fla., logged onto his Facebook account to chat with his son, Adam, a 3rd Platoon soldier who was up late in Afghanistan. Spec. Adam C. Winfield confided that he’d had a run-in with Gibbs, his squad leader. He also typed a mysterious note saying that some people get away with murder.

When his father pressed him to explain, Adam replied, “did you not understand what i just told you.” He then referred to the slaying of the Afghan villager the month before, adding that other platoon members had threatened him because he did not approve. In addition, he said, they were bragging about how they wanted to find another victim.

“I was just shocked,” Christopher Winfield said in a phone interview. “He was scared for his life at that point.”

Apparently the case was broken by MPs who were dogging after reports of hashish and alcohol abuse in this platoon. They discovered a lot more than hashish use. Additionally, one person, described as a squealer, was ‘taught a lesson:’

After word leaked that one soldier had spoken to military police, several platoon members retaliated, records show. They confronted the informant and beat him severely – punching, kicking and choking the soldier, then dragging him across the ground. As a last warning, the documents state, Gibbs menacingly waved finger bones he had collected from Afghan corpses

. Gibbs has been described as the ring leader.

This is a horrible story and one that will have no winners. Hopefully, the guilty will be punished, severely, and the innocent will be protected. Stories like this give America a black eye. I was tempted to leave it alone. To even print it draws negative attention to my country. However, to not print it seems worse.

Are there just bad apples? Or does warfare desensitize some people so much that this behavior is a natural occurrence during wartime?

Pictures have been compiled of those charged thus far by the WaPo.

8 Thoughts to “A Few BAD Men”

  1. If convicted, they should be punished. HARD.

  2. What makes people do things like that? Are they rotten to start with and find a niche where killing is sorta what you do for a living (under orders of course)? Or do they become desensitized because of what is going on around them?

    I know that troops in all wars have their own nicknames for ‘the enemy’ and often even the civilian populations. I always thought it helped make killing them a little less personal. But what do I know? Never been military.

  3. Wolverine

    I think it is war in general. This kind of thing has happened in armies throughout history. War can brutalize the human soul. The difference between us now and the past is that we have finally started to watch this thing more closely and act upon accusations using legal and constitutional means. We also now have watchdogs which are not subject to being silenced by either official or unofficial repression. Did any of you happen to catch the title now carried by Mo Davis? Executive Director of the War Crimes Project. You may not agree with all their conclusions, but the website makes for some mighty interesting and thoughtful reading. As a long-time “Africanist” their report on what happened recently in the Republic of Guinea made me mad as hops.

    The other thing which I think we have going against us is that of longer and repeated deployments into war zones. We may have a voluntary military machine at our disposal and we may have many guys and gals who are gung ho about patriotism and military duty, but these people are not manufactured in factories. They still have feelings and emotions as fragile as those of Johnny Reb and Union Johnny, who went through battle after battle soaked in the blood of friend and foe alike — if they survived long enough. That has got to have an impact. Vietnam was tough as Hell for our troops. So tough that, even to this day, many refuse even to talk about it. But, if you were able to survive 12 months on the ground in Vietnam, you were not forced to go back unless you were gung ho or career-oriented enough militarily to volunteer for additional tours. Big difference there.

    And it was not only the constant killing which can throw you off kilter. The Navy got out of the 12-month deal by homeporting many of its capital ships outside the war zone. This included the LST’s, many of which often spent more time in Vietnam than anywhere else. Until I was sent home on a medevac flight, there were times when I thought I might be in that war zone for twice the 12-month limit and maybe longer. In fact, at one point when the Navy decided I had recovered sufficiently to go back to full-time duty, the orders I received (later cancelled by direction of the Navy medicos) were right back to Vietnam, to another LST. Damn if that wasn’t a shock for a guy who had just fallen in love with his Navy Nurse!! I remember checking out and walking down the passageway gear in hand for the last time, angry as Hell at the world, when a Navy doc came running after me, crying that my orders had been cancelled and back to the ward.

    It reminded me of a dark night in some South Vietnamese port where, while making late night security rounds, I thought I heard someone actually weeping. I found a sailor sitting in one of the gun tubs with tears rolling down his cheeks. When I asked what the matter was, he handed up a piece of paper. It was a letter from his wife telling him that she no longer wanted to be married and was going to divorce him and marry someone else. Deployment to a war zone can be Hell in other ways than just the killing.

    I may have told this story before, but here goes. As WWII start to draw to a close, an American army unit swept into Bavaria. At a railroad yard they discovered boxcars full of the bodies of emaciated and dead Jews. The troops followed one of the rail lines until it ended at a concentration camp, where they discovered even greater horrors. They also discovered some German SS people who had failed to make their escape. Some of our troopers went berserk. They lined the SS people up against a wall and summarily executed them, paying no heed whatsoever to the Geneva conventions or any other laws of warfare. The carnage only stopped when senior officers arrived on the scene. Years later there was some efforts to sort out this incident legally and pinpoint those responsible for losing their cool and violating the rules of warfare. I cannot remember the outcome of that legal case or even if there was a definitive outcome; but the point is that war and the horrors of war can sure make any human lose it completely, no matter how grounded they may have been before.

  4. I’m not so sure that the troops that shot the SS could be considered as “losing it.” I think that it was the right and proper thing to do.

  5. Middle ground on this one…maybe not right and proper but it sure is understandable. We do have to abide by the Geneva conventions if we want them to apply to us. Maybe those SS were trying to escape. bam bam.

  6. Wolverine

    Nope. THe SS people were not trying to escape. They had waited too long to leave the camp, were surprised by the quick arrival of American troops, and gave up immediately. The angry American troopers lined these people up against a wall and executed them with machine gun fire. An understandable reaction on the part of the troopers? Maybe. But I do seem to recall that, when an investigation was actually conducted after the war had ended, there was an awfully lot of diverse opinion as to whether there ought to be a punishment of our own people for such unlawful retribution. One of the arguments in favor of punishment, as I recall, was what Moon said in her second para in #5.

  7. Wolverine

    Oops — “second sentence in #5”

  8. It isn’t our job to be judge, jury and executioner. But I doubt if we would have ever found a jury to convict any of them

    These rogue soldiers seemed to just be killing for sport, however, and that is totally unacceptable. We all heard stories of soldiers, marines, etc who were strange and who went out of their way to kill non combatants in grizzly ways…and then would sit down to a can of C rations.

    Thanks for bringing that up though Wolverine. It is certainly an area to think about and good for discussion. And it is one thing to put on my 21st century hat and talk about Geneva conventions, etc. It is quite another thing to walk up on box cars full of corpses and know that the monsters right in front of you caused this to fellow human beings. Their rage, at least to me, was very understandable. How many battle weary soldiers would have the self control to not just finish off the enemy. I am sure they had been through enough by the time they got that far inland just to finish off the job and call it a day.

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