March 12th, 2012
11:12 AM ET

Afghanistan shooting suspect moved

The soldier at the center of the Afghanistan shootings has been moved from the outpost where he served to detention in a larger U.S. base in Afghanistan, a military official tells Barbara Starr.

More details are emerging about the soldier, an Army staff sergeant, who acted alone and turned himself in after opening fire on civilians, according to officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.  He is in U.S. custody as investigators try to establish what motivated him.

He is in his mid-30s and has served several tours in Iraq, but he is on his first deployment to Afghanistan, said a U.S. military official, who asked not to be named talking about an ongoing investigation.

He arrived in Afghanistan in January and was supporting the Green Berets, the source said.

The suspect is from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, a military official said, adding the soldier is assigned to a Special Forces unit.

The probe is now being led by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command.

One of the villages where the shooting occured was a model village established by the Canadian forces in Kandahar, a demonstration of effective NATO interactions with an Afghan community, reports The Montreal Gazette's Matthew Fisher.

"If it happened there, this will be shocking to the people of Belanday, as you can imagine, but I think that they can recover. One bad actor cannot spoil the reputation of the whole. I believe that to be true," said Maj.-Gen. Jon Vance, whose idea it was three years ago to create model villages where troops interacted closely with the locals.

The community was chosen as a model village by Vance in the fall of 2009 as part of a project that had begun nearby in April 2009. It was copied across southern Afghanistan after NATO's top Afghan generals, Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus saw firsthand what Canada had achieved there.

The attacker's mental stability and medical history are among "the things the investigators are looking at," said Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the NATO-led force, in an interview Sunday night on CNN.

"This was a soldier who had been in the Army some time, had deployed before." Kirby said. "This wasn't his first deployment. But with respect to specific motives, we just can't say right now."

Over at Time's Batteland blog, Mark Thompson talks with an Army psychiatrist about war stress being a potential factor. The psychiatrist notes that the very fact the soldier left the confines of the post on his own in the middle of the night is "crazy" act on its own.

“There’s a lot of death,” says the Army psychiatrist, “and all the Americans there are under a lot of stress. The whole region – it’s the birthplace of the Taliban – is a very dangerous area,” he adds. “If the soldier was going out on patrol, he probably was attacked pretty much every day. If he stayed on the FOB [Forward Operating Base], he was probably being shelled regularly.” The increased killing of U.S. troops by their purported Afghan allies in recent months – and the recent spike in such killings after U.S. troops allegedly mistakenly burned Korans – had already blurred one line of war: you don’t kill your comrades in arms. Sunday’s horrific attack obliterated another: innocent civilians are not war trophies.

Attention is also being focused on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, though little is known about how long the accused soldier spent there. But the base has seen its share of problems and controversy.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Army • Gen. Allen • ISAF • Military
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. travel insurance

    wow, nice article. really

    July 10, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  2. Skorpio

    It would've been better to kill 16 "MUSLIM CLERICS" instead of innocent people. I bet this soldier would've been a hero not just in America but also in Afghanistan, especially to the Afghan women.

    March 13, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
  3. azmat zaman

    My take of What will happen? The soldier will walk away free, the doctors will come to his aid,war stress and war fatique are the words we will hear.And justice will ( as always ) be served, as was in the case of Soldiers pissing on dead bodies. talking of war fatique , we talk of only of US soldiers but the afghans have 30 year fatique, but why care for the children of a lesser God. well trained soldier,well done, for shooting down 16 women and children, next we will hear the the babies had guns pointed at him. Well done soldier. well done USA.

    March 13, 2012 at 1:19 am | Reply
  4. Skorpio

    The US should ban the Koran in all military bases due to the following:
    1) Muslim clerics use the Koran as a weapon to incite and instigate the masses to provoke violence, hatred and terrorist attacks against Americans. 2) In comparison to Hitler's book "Mein Kampf", the Koran is more violent, discriminatory and ant-Semitic. 3) The same way Saudi Arabia confiscates bibles because they are perceived as subversives, the US should confiscate Korans. 4) The Koran provokes violence, hatred, resentment, terrorism, vengeance and discrimination. 5) The Koran's content is extremely offensive to Non-Muslims, humiliates, denigrates non-Muslims especially Jews.

    March 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
    • ab

      Wow! you did a lot of research on Quran, please share us one example from Quran which justify your comments here.

      March 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  5. Clinton

    Though i find what this soldier did Abhorrent, i also know the kind of stress he was under, being a former servicemen i know what the strain of deployment can do to you. It doesn't turn everyone into a psycho, as many would like to say... but it can do that to some folks... killing becomes routine, violence is as normal as a birthday party... this guy does need help but the time to help him was before he went on this spree... The American people on the other hand need to get real, do you not realize you've had these guys fighting in wars for over 10 years now... for most of these guys they've spent more time in war than away from it over the past few years... This is what that does to some people... It's just not a good situation... Occupying Afghanistan should have never been the policy... attack, weaken and destroy as much of the Taliban and Al Quaida that we can in Afghanistan then leave, that should have been the policy all along... bring these guys home... let afghanistan figure it out on their own how to govern themselves, if a threat arises out of that country... then you hit them again... but don't leave our guys there to rot in the desert... for craps sake bring em home.... they're soldiers not policemen.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • mipolitic

      well bill , the statement about the time to help this mad man was before the speer is spot on.

      and i agree with most of your comment except for the fact that there is no room for even a hint of an excuse for what this terrorist did to women and children.

      March 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
      • Clinton

        Mipolitic – My name is actually Clinton, i'm not referring to the former president at all...

        I agree there's no excuse... again i just think people need to understand that incidents like this will rise as they did in Vietnam... prolonged exposure to War and violence can change some people... some people can't handle it... it turns them into this... which is horrible but again, this is what we have to look forward to if we don't get our guys out of there... there's not much of a mission left there anyways... Al Quaida was our target and we pushed them mostly into Pakistan so why hang out and fight the Taliban who are fighting us for different reasons?

        March 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Gonzalez

      I appreciate your comment Clinton. Thank you. Those who have never served will never understand the commitment our military men and women provide for our country.

      March 13, 2012 at 11:11 am | Reply
  6. tron

    He was just a little confused and misunderstood.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  7. Meyer C. Dhoates

    Give this guy to the villagers to exact their own punishment. He deserves it and it would appease the lunatic Taliban.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Gonzalez

      He is a son of the United States of America, my country. I would never suggest that any other government but ours judge this warrior. We don't know the circumstances that prompted this soldiers actions? Although I feel for the families affected, the soldier is my first concern, his well being, and the judgement he is facing.

      March 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
  8. mipolitic

    the afghan people are going to demand that this terrorist is turned over to them , the usa will say no way and the nato countries will start to withdraw because of the civil unrest and the usa will shortly follow.

    every walking breathing afghan and pakistan hates the west right now and sadly it is not going to change any time soon.
    i hope all measures are taking to keep our guys and gals save along with the contractors.

    March 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply

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