Report: Warnings about Army unit ignored

Oct. 14, 2010 at 10:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Commanders had warning a Stryker Brigade unit that allegedly killed Afghan civilians for sport was out of control, The Washington Post reports.

The 5th Stryker Brigade, with 3,800 members, suffered high casualties deployed in Afghanistan. Thirty-five soldiers were killed in combat and six in accidents, while 239 were wounded and five now face charges of killing Afghan civilians.

The Post said interviews and records show brigade command ignored signs of trouble in 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. The brigade commander, Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV, pushed a strategy that emphasized killing insurgents over a counterinsurgency strategy of protecting the civilian population, the report said.

Reports show a lieutenant and sergeant in the 3rd Platoon were disciplined because soldiers under their command had shot dogs but no action was taken when four Afghan men, allegedly unarmed civilians, were killed. In another case, Capt. Matthew Quiggle was described as "furious" about the shooting of an unarmed man but dealt with it by ordering soldiers to find a way to justify the killing.

The father of a soldier in the unit says he called Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, the brigade's home base, in February to report his son had told him Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs had boasted of getting away with killings and said he would carry out more of them. The Army has confirmed the call and says it is investigating why there was no follow-up.

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