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.