Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: 'Afghanistan' (132) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 132

June 1, 2012 at 11:42am

Army amends, adds charges against Bales

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Today the United States Army preferred amended and additional charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in March.   

The charges allege Staff Sgt. Bales violated the following provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

  • Article 118- sixteen specifications of premeditated murder
  • Article 80- six specifications of attempted premeditated murder
  • Article 128- seven specifications of assault
  • Article 112a- two specifications of wrongfully possessing and using a Schedule III controlled substance (steroids)
  • Article 92- one specification of wrongfully consuming alcohol while deployed

The amended charges, which include reducing the number of premeditated murder victims from 17 to 16, conform to developments in the ongoing investigation surrounding Staff Sgt. Bales' alleged crimes on March 11, 2012.

Bales is currently in pretrial confinement at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Filed under: Afghanistan, Crime, News To Us,

April 6, 2012 at 8:50am

Lancers set for deployment

Colonel Barry Huggins, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division commander, told Joint Base Lewis-McChord his "Lancer" Brigade will defend America far from her shores and return with honor in remarks at Watkins Field last week. His speech highlighted a morning colors-casing ceremony for approximately 4,000 Lancer Brigade Soldiers who will deploy to Afghanistan in upcoming weeks.

Troops from 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. will join approximately 4,000 fellow JBLM troops in Afghanistan, most from 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.

Fifth Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division redeployed from Afghanistan and reflagged as 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. in July 2010.

Last February, Huggins said the team expected to deploy for nine months to fight terrorist groups and support Afghan National Security Forces to relieve pressure on dedicated coalition training teams.

Huggins said in his speech March 30, regardless of the road ahead, the Lancers were thankful.

"Decades ago, my father served in Vietnam," he said. "When he came home he arrived alone and he was greeted with silence or worse. Today being a Soldier is very different. When we make our way through the airport it's impossible not to be stopped and thanked."

Huggins went on to thank service members, their families, and civilians throughout JBLM and the South Sound for supporting his brigade since their last return.

Soldiers from the brigade's six battalions and headquarters company, undeterred by recent international incidents, said high professionalism remains a standard across the "Lancer" ranks.

"We're definitely ready," Capt. Jeffery Wollenman, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment fire support officer, said. "I've been with the battalion for about a year. We're a professional organization with good leadership from the top, all the way down to the bottom."

Though the Lancers' colors will be new to the Afghan area of operations, many of the Soldiers who carry it are already battle tested. Almost 40 percent of those deploying with 2nd Bde. this spring have had Afghan mission experience and more than a third have deployed to Iraq.

Though Sgt. 1st Class Raul Cantu arrived five months ago at 2-1 Inf., the platoon sergeant is one of the battalion's seasoned leaders; this will be his fourth deployment and his second to Afghanistan. He said Afghanistan's lack of modern roads, streets and bridges one of its fundamental differences from Iraq.

"When people think of Iraq, they may not realize how developed it is. They have a lot more infrastructure and a lot of the things they have there, we have here," Cantu said. "Afghanistan is a lot less developed. It's very rural and rugged."

As a married Soldier with two children, Cantu said he recognized his wife, Mari, who will experience her first deployment this spring, and the other Lancer Families will have a lot on their shoulders in 2012.

"I told her she had the most important job of all," he said. "It's a difficult time for us as a Family, but we're strong - we'll get through it."

He also said most American people might be surprised to find they have more in common with most Iraqis and Afghans than they realize.

"Most of the people I've come across just want to work and provide for their families," he said. "The farmers go out to the fields, work hard to put food on the table, then come home to spend time with their families - much like us."

April 5, 2012 at 10:25am

Problems cited in care of wounded Marines from Camp Lejeune

From the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer: A recent U.S. Department of Defense review of a battalion for wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune suggests that the battalion is hampered by drug abuse, the perception of a poor command climate and other problems.

But the review - the third in a series to evaluate the military's policies and processes for wounded warriors - was not nearly as scathing as an earlier assessment of the Army's Wounded Transition Battalion at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Although Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion will not be part of the Defense Department's assessment process, the post began its own inspection in mid-February. A report of those findings has been completed and is expected to be released to the public within 14 days, Col. Kevin Arata, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, said Wednesday.

Commanders for Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center said previously that an outside inspection of the medical component of the battalion found "no red flags."

Read more here.

Filed under: Health, Veterans, Afghanistan,

April 3, 2012 at 10:08am

Company creates IED simulator

From Defense News: Failing a training exercise brings consequences: pressure from a commander, ridicule from peers, a sense of shame and, potentially, a few jolts of electricity to the thigh.

Ti Training, a small business in Golden, Colo., that creates simulators for firearms and other uses of force, has developed an IED trainer called the Lm - Land Mine Simulator. The device shocks troops when they detonate the system during training.

The small black mines, made of PVC, are pressure-activated and can be buried or hidden. When triggered, the mines emit a radio frequency (RF) signal that activates a shock on a thin paddle worn by troops on their belts. It's essentially a painful pager.

The shock is adjustable and ranges from 7 to 40 milliamps, meaning it can feel like a pinch or something far more unpleasant - though nowhere near the level of a taser.

"It changes the psychology of how you train," said Greg Otte, president of Ti Training. "If you go in knowing nothing is going to go wrong, you have a tendency not to be as focused."

For the complete story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Training,

April 2, 2012 at 12:39pm

U.S. troops get new protections in Afghanistan

This from Army Times: WASHINGTON - U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have assigned "guardian angels" - troops that watch over their comrades even as they sleep - and have ordered a series of other increased security measures to protect troops against possible attacks by rogue Afghans.

The added protections are part of a directive issued in recent weeks by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to guard against insider threats, according to a senior military official. And they come in the wake of a spike in attacks on U.S. and coalition forces by Afghans, including the point-blank shooting deaths of two U.S. advisers in Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior.

Some of the changes have been subtle, others not so much.

In several Afghan ministries, Americans are now allowed to carry weapons. And they have been instructed to rearrange their office desks there to face the door, so they can see who is coming in, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal directive.

To read the rest of the story, click here

Filed under: Afghanistan, Army News, Deployment,

April 20, 2011 at 1:44pm

Photojournalist Tim Hetherington, the co-director of Oscar-nominated war documentary "Restrepo," killed

(Reuters) - Photojournalist Tim Hetherington, the co-director of Oscar-nominated war documentary "Restrepo," died in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata on Wednesday, doctors said.

Getty photographer Chris Hondros was in critical condition in intensive care, doctors at the hospital where he was being treated said. He had suffered brain injuries.

The photographers were among a group caught by mortar fire on Tripoli Street, the main thoroughfare leading into the center of Misrata, the only major rebel-held town in western Libya and besieged by Muammar Gaddafi's forces for more than seven weeks.


Filed under: Afghanistan,

April 6, 2011 at 5:12pm

U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffer more catastrophic injuries

This from the Los Angeles Times: Reporting from Landstuhl, Germany, and Helmand- Grim combat statistics that one military doctor called "unbelievable" show U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered an unprecedented number of catastrophic injuries last year, including a tripling of amputations of more than one limb.

A study by doctors at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most wounded troops are sent before returning to the U.S., confirmed their fears: The battlefield has become increasingly brutal.

In 2009, 75 service members brought to Landstuhl had limbs amputated. Of those, 21 had lost more than one limb.

But in 2010, 171, 11% of all the casualties brought to Landstuhl, had undergone amputations, a much higher proportion than in past wars. Of the 171, 65 had lost more than one limb.

Injuries to the genital area were also on the increase. In 2009, 52 casualties were brought to Landstuhl with battlefield injuries to their genitals or urinary tract. In 2010, that number was 142.

Dr. John Holcomb, a retired Army colonel with extensive combat-medicine experience, said he and other doctors involved in the study were shocked by the findings, which he labeled as "unbelievable."  

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: Deployment, Afghanistan, Health,

February 1, 2011 at 10:18am

Army to prosecute JBLM soldier for Afghan murder

This from The News Tribune: The Army announced today that it will prosecute the fifth and final member of a group of Stryker soldiers who allegedly murdered Afghan civilians during patrols last year despite a review that cited weaknesses in the case against the soldier.

The announcement is a setback to Spc. Michael Wagnon, 30, whose family had hoped that the Army would dismiss charges against him after an investigating officer reviewed the case in November and reported that there was little evidence against him.

That report went to Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the senior general at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, who determined the Army has evidence to proceed with a court-martial against Wagnon.

Wagnon will face a court-martial on charges that he murdered an Afghan civilian during a February patrol, shot at unarmed Afghans in March and participated in conspiracies to harm Afghans. He could be sentenced to life in prison if he's convicted.

The Army dismissed two charges from Wagnon's case. One alleged that he kept a piece of skull from an Afghan corpse; the other accused him of trying to obstruct the Army's investigation into his platoon's misconduct by destroying images of Afghan casualties on his computer.

His attorney debunked both of those charges at an Article 32 hearing in November. Wagnon's platoon mates said the skull fragment he kept came from a camel, not a person.

For more on the story, click here.

January 28, 2011 at 12:32pm

Military ‘Bravest Families’ join First Lady on Oprah Show

WASHINGTON - Two military families shared their stories - one of perseverance through deployment, one of recovering from a life-changing war injury - with the nation Thursday.

The families, and the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, appeared along with First Lady Michelle Obama and journalists Tom Brokaw and Bob Woodward on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The episode, "The Bravest Families In America," aired Thursday.

The first family to appear, former Army Sgt. Corey Brest, his wife, Jenny, and their two children, live in the small town of Yankton, S.D.

Brest was serving in Iraq with his National Guard unit when a roadside bomb wounded him in 2005. The injury left him nearly blind and unable to move or speak as he once did.

Jenny said she has gone from being wife to caregiver, and though she accompanies and encourages the man she calls "the love of my life" to job training sessions and speech and physical therapy appointments, their lives will never be the same.

"Our biggest sacrifice is time," she said. "When we picked up the pieces at the hospital, we lost time there because I left home and I missed our son's first steps, his first words. We both missed it. Even here without [Corey's] sight, he feels like he's missing out. Yes, he's living every moment with us, but he's not getting to see his kids grow up."

Brokaw comes from the same small town as the couple, and helped to arrange their appearance on the show. Author of the World War II book "The Greatest Generation," he has in recent years striven through his writing and speeches to bring America's attention to today's veterans and how their lives, and their families' lives, have been changed by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

To read more, click here.

January 6, 2011 at 10:55am

Stryker soldier discharged for misconduct

This from The News Tribune: Spc. Emmitt Quintal, 22, was given a bad-conduct discharge at a court-martial Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

He also must do hard labor for 90 days and take a demotion to private for frequently using drugs during his combat deployment, joining an assault on a comrade and keeping digital photos of Afghan casualties.

He pleaded guilty to those three offenses, as well as a conspiracy charge related to the assault.

"I have put discredit not only on myself and my family, but also on the uniform I wear every day," Quintal said in the courtroom.

It could have been worse for the soldier from Weston, Ore. He negotiated a pre-trial agreement that capped his punishment and required him to testify at hearings for his codefendants in an Army war crimes investigation.

To read the complete story, click here.

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