Showing posts with label Panjwai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Panjwai. Show all posts

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Report on Panjwai Massacre of March 2012

In March 2012, in a year where the insider attacks against ISAF Soldiers took its heaviest toll, SSG Robert Bales committed a gruesome crime against Afghan civilians. Bales was an infantry squad leader attached to a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha in a remote village in Panjwai district, Kandahar province. SSG Bales was using steroids and alcohol prior to killing Afghan civilians in southern Afghanistan in March 2012. The Panjwai district massacre occurred just outside of a Special Forces village stability platform (village) at VSP Belambai. Read more in "Report: Bales 'erratic' before 212 shooting rampage"Army Times, August 18, 2015. The 569 page official report can be read online. It was completed by the United States Forces - Afghanistan (USFOR-A) Staff Judge Advocate on June 22, 2012 and was originally classified SECRET. It has since been downgraded and approved for release.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Request by Newspaper for Command Climate Report Related to Panjwai Massacre Denied by Pentagon

A request for the release of the findings of a command climate report conducted by the Army on a Special Forces base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province where the convicted murderer SFC Bales was assigned will not be released by the Pentagon. Rumors of alcohol consumption during the time that SFC Bales killed the Afghan villagers have circulated but the Army is not providing much insight into the goings-on at the camp. The Panjwai massacre took place in March 2012. Bales was convicted of murder and sentenced to life for the killing of 17 unarmed Afghan villagers to include women and children. Read more in "Could Bales have been stopped? Answers please", The Bellingham Herald, February 9, 2014.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Justice and Injustice in Afghanistan

The concept of justice in Afghanistan held by the U.S. military and the Afghan population differ greatly. While the U.S. has a very formalized justice system the Afghans have a less formalized system. The Afghan formal justice system is still developing (and still very corrupt); however, the Afghans have an informal justice system that works on the local level. A writer, Morwari Zafar, examines the differences in a recent article in Foreign Policy entitled "U.S. (In)justice in Afghanistan" published on January 2, 2014. She cites the Panjwei district massacre as an example of how the U.S. and Afghan justice systems are at odds with each other.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Villagers in Panjwai District Form Uprising Against Taliban

Villagers in the district of Panjwai located in Kandahar province have staged a local uprising or revolt against the Taliban. This is a significant event as Panjwai is in the heartland of the Taliban movement and has long been a thorn in the side of ISAF. Brutal fighting has taken place in this district (and surrounding districts) over the past several years. The catalyst for the formation of the uprising was the resentment the local villagers had against the bullying and harassment by the Taliban. Scores of civilians have been killed by the Taliban either directly or as a result of the many mines and IEDs planted by the Taliban. Although there are other documented instances of local uprisings in Afghanistan this is the first time that an uprising of this magnitude has happened in Kandahar. The uprising coincides with several other factors to include a strong District Chief of Police (DCoP), more capable Afghan police and army units, and a diminished capacity of the Taliban to exert influence in the area due to shortages of recruits and money. Read more on the Panjwai uprising in "Villagers Take on Taliban in Their Heartland", The New York Times, March 20, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Afghan Special Forces at Work in Panjwai District

The Afghan Army Special Forces are deeply involved in the progress being made in Panjwai district, Kandahar province. Panjwai has recently been an area where local uprisings against the Taliban have occurred. The ANASF are ideally suited to capitalize on this event and are working many lines of effort to solidify the gains made - not only in security but also in development and governance. Read about some of the benefits the ANASF bring to the community in "Afghan National Army special forces, villagers complete well project", DVIDS, March 22, 2013.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Criminal Charges Preferred Against SSG Robert Bales (Panjwai Massacre, Afghanistan)

The Soldier alleged to have committed the killing of 17 civilians in Panjwai district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan has had criminal charges preferred against him by the military under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). SSG Robert Bales is currently being held in pretrial confinement at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The next step in the military justice process is for the special court-martial convening authority at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to decide whether to direct an investigation of the charges under the UCMJ's Article 32. Read more in "U.S. Forces Afghanistan Prefers Criminal Charges Against Bales", American Forces Press Service, March 23, 2012.

Legal Path Ahead for SSG Bales (Panjwai Massacre)

The legal journey for SSG Bales, the accused killer in the Panjwai massacre, will be a long journey under the military judicial system. Read more in "Accused Sergeant Heads Down a Long Legal Road", NPR, March 21, 2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

DoD Confirms Identity of Afghan Shooter - SSG Robert Bales

The Army has confirmed the identity of the Panjwai massacre shooter as SSG Robert Bales.  See the news release below:

Army Identifies Afghanistan Shooting Suspect

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service 
WASHINGTON, March 17, 2012 – The Army has identified the U.S. soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians in a March 11 rampage as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, according to a statement released here last night.

Bales, from Fort Jensen Beach, Fla., is accused of leaving his base in Kandahar province in the middle of the night and shooting Afghans in their homes nearby. Afghan officials say 17 were killed.

The infantryman, who Army officials say completed sniper training and held three good conduct medals, was flown from Afghanistan March 14 to a military detention facility in Kuwait, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed during an interview last night during an interview with Charlie Rose in New York.

From Kuwait, Bales was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and is being held in pre-trial confinement there at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, a state-of-the-art, medium/minimum custody facility, Army officials said.

That facility provides pre- and post-trial confinement for U.S. military inmates sentenced to up to five years of confinement. It has 464 beds but the number of inmates in pre-trial confinement at any given time typically is around 12, Army Col. James Hutton, chief of media relations, said.

Also at Fort Leavenworth is the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, which houses military inmates sentenced to more than five years of confinement. Bales is being held in special housing in his own cell. He will be able to go outside the cell “for hygiene and recreational purposes,” Hutton said, and will be allowed religious support if he asks for it.

According to the Army release, Bales enlisted two months after 9/11 on Nov. 8, 2001, and was with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

According to Bales’ service record, he had an associate’s degree from a 2-year college and his military training included warrior and advanced leaders courses, sniper training and combatives levels 1 and 2.

He was deployed three times to Iraq -- in 2003 for 12 months, in 2006 for 15 months and in 2009 for 10 months. He was deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 1.

Besides three good conduct medals, Bales’ awards and decorations include two Iraq Campaign Medal Campaign Stars, the National Defense Service Medal, combat and expert Infantry Badges, six Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, two Meritorious Unit Commendations and an Army Superior Unit Award.
Learn more about the Panjai shootings here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Soldier Who Allegedly Killed 16 Civilians in Panjwai, Afghanistan Massacre Identified as SSG Robert Bales

Fox News has released the name of the Soldier who allegedly committed the killings of 16 civilians in the Panjwai massacre earlier this month. His name is Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. Bales is being flown to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  See "Sources ID soldier suspected in Afghan massacre", Fox News, March 16, 2012. Learn more about the Panjwai massacre here.

Karzai Wants ISAF Out of Afghan Villages

In a reaction to the Panjwai massacre President Karzai wants all NATO troops to withdraw from Afghan villages to large bases. He has stated that Afghan security forces are now ready to take over all security responsibilities now. This will have an adverse effect on ISAF's plans for an orderly transition to Afghan security forces over the next few years. Part of that transition includes the use of special operations forces working in Afghan villages with the Afghan Local Police or ALP as part of the Village Stability Operations or VSO program. Read more in "Karzai Urges NATO Withdrawal From Afghan Villages", Voice of America, March 15, 2012.

Panjwai Killings Suspect Still Unnamed

The military still refuses to provide the name of the US Army Staff Sergeant who allegedly committed the Panjwai killings; although they are starting to run out of time based on previous statements. One possible reason is to protect the Soldier's family; the family has been relocated to a secure location. Read more in "Days after Afghanistan massacre, suspect unnamed", Seattle, March 15, 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Village Stability Operations Explanation

Carmen Gentile has wrote a piece about the Village Stability Operations program in Afghanistan. In this program, called VSO for short, special operations teams move into rural communities and establish Village Stability Platforms. These small organizations built around the special operations teams work with local community leaders to enhance governance and development at the same time trying to improve the security situation. They frequently work with the Afghan Local Police or ALP. The recent shooting of sixteen Panjwai civilians took place at one of these VSO locations.

See the article by Carmen Gentile entitled "Afghanistan massacre casts pall over village operations", USA Today, March 15, 2012.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Village Stability Operations (VSO) Program Under Scrutiny

One of the unfortunate (among many) effects of the Panjwai massacre is the high-lighting of the Village Stability Operations or VSO program. The SSG who committed the killings was a conventional Soldier attached to a special operations team conducting VSO at a small compound called Belandai Base (named for a nearby village) in Panjwai district, Kandahar province.  As the correspondents and commentators filter through the news reports they are learning more about the VSO program. Many will make the leap that the VSO program is somehow at fault - which would be a huge mistake. For instance, see "Massacre by U.S. Soldier clouds NATO's Afghan strategy", AlertNet, March 14, 2012. Learn more about the Village Stability Operations program.

US Army SSG Who Committed Panjwai Massacre Flown Out of Afghanistan

The Pentagon has confirmed that the Soldier who allegedly committed the murder of 16 Afghan villagers in Panjwai district, Kandahar province has been flown out of Afghanistan. He departed on Wednesday evening - 13 March.  His destination is unknown but he may likely end up in the prison at Fort Leavenworth. Learn more about the Panjwai massacre here.  See a news article about the departure of the Soldier from Afghanistan - "Accused US soldier flown out of Afghanistan", Stars and Stripes, March 14, 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pentagon Officials Say Panjwai Gunman Acted Alone

Pentagon spokesmen have released a statement saying that the US Soldier who committed the killings of civilians in Panjwai district in Afghanistan acted alone.  See "Officials Believe Gunman Acted Alone, Press Secretary Says", American Forces Press Service, March 12, 2012.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Statement by SecDef Panetta on Panjwei Killing Spree

Statement by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta
on the Tragic Incident in Kandahar Province
(March 11, 2012)

“Today I spoke to President Karzai to offer my deepest condolences and profound regret for the tragic incident in Kandahar province that resulted in the loss of life and injuries to innocent Afghan civilians, including women and children.

“A full investigation is already underway. A suspect is in custody, and I gave President Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice. We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law.

“I condemn such violence and am shocked and saddened that a U.S. service member is alleged to be involved, clearly acting outside his chain of command. I told President Karzai that the American people share the outrage felt by President Karzai and his fellow citizens. This tragic incident does not reflect the commitment of the U.S. military to protect the Afghan people and help build a strong and stable Afghanistan.

“As we mourn today with the Afghan people, we are steadfast in our resolve to work hand in hand with our Afghan partners to accomplish the missions and goals on which we have been working together for so long. This terrible incident does not reflect our shared values or the progress we have made together. As I told President Karzai, I am fully committed to ensuring that our cooperation continues. It is essential to forging a more peaceful future for the citizens of both our nations.”
View the news release here.  Learn more about the Panjwei civilian killings by US Soldier.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ISAF Press Release on Civilian Casualties of Shooting Spree in Panjwai District, Kandahar Province

The ISAF Deputy Commander has released a statement on the Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan civilian casualties caused by a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant. The text is below:

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Deputy Commander, International Security Assistance Force, Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw, released the following statement today:

“In my role as in-theatre commander of ISAF in Gen. Allen’s temporary absence on duty, I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province. One of our soldiers is reported to have killed and injured a number of civilians in villages adjacent to his base. I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity. An investigation is already underway and every effort will be made to establish the facts and hold anyone responsible to account. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in this tragedy. I wish once again, on behalf of Gen. Allen and all members of ISAF, to convey our deep regrets and sorrow at this appalling incident.
Learn more about this incident at Panjwai Civilian Shooting Spree by US Army Soldier.

Read the ISAF news release online here:

US Soldier Kills Afghan Civilians in Panjwai District, Kandahar Province

A US Soldier has reportedly killed at least 16 Afghan civilians in the early morning hours of March 11, 2012 in the Panjwai district, Kandahar province. The deaths include women and children. The Soldier had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks.  Read news accounts and learn more about the killing of Afghan civilians in Panjwai district.