Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.
Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.
In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.
According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army’s criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to “toss a grenade at someone and kill them”.
What were they thinking?
With any organization as large as the military, you are going to have some bad eggs. As my drill sergeant was fond of saying when he stressed the importance of securing your wall locker, “There was a thief in your Sunday school class.” And I understand the extraordinary stress these soldiers are under, and don’t know if I would have been able to survive.
Having said that, what I don’t understand is how so many go along with it. We’re not talking about one bad egg here- we’re talking about a group of 12 that is accused of some horrible, heinous crimes. And again, the thing we need to keep in mind is that we are just learning about this, but the Afghan civilians have known about this for a while. Again, the secret war in Laos was not a secret to Lao.
And it goes without saying that even though it is the Army that is making these charges, the 101st Chairborne will spend the next few months claiming liberals are smearing the troops for talking about this.