Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Five Styker brigade soldiers charged with premeditated murder

The Army announced today that three more soldiers are being charged with murder in a series of civilian deaths in Afghanistan between January and March of this year, bringing the total number charged to five. Details are pretty sparse.

Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Holmes, Spc. Michael Wagnon and Spc. Adam Winfield were charged Tuesday evening with one count of murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to a news release issued today from the base. Each is accused in separate incidents.

The three men returned to Lewis-McChord on Monday and have been placed in pretrial confinement.

Five soldiers from the base are now accused in the deaths of Afghan civilians between January and May.

Spc. Jeremy Morlock was charged June 4 with three specifications of premeditated murder and one specification of assault. He’s being confined at the base.

Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 25, was charged in Kuwait on June 8 with three counts of premeditated murder and one specification of assault. The infantryman from Montana should be at Lewis-McChord within the next several days, the base reported. He was on his third deployment.

All five soldiers are assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. They deployed to Afghanistan last July.
Here's the Joint Base Lewis-McChord press release (pdf).

"Separate incidents" is a really, really foreboding detail. Let's hope this doesn't turn out like the tale of 3/101, told by Raffi Khatchadourian in "The Kill Company."

5/2 SBCT, you may remember, is commanded by COL Harry Tunnell and sustained heavy casualties (though mostly in 1-17 Infantry, a different battalion than the one these soldiers come from) last fall in the Arghandab Valley.


  1. Anyone who had watched the poor performance of the 5/2 SBCT while they went through their NTC rotation prior to Afghanistan---which was a continuation of the poor performance during their Leadership Training Program (LTP) prior to the NTC rotation could see the train wreck coming.
    Why the Senior Leadership/Senior Trainer of the Division did not redline the SBCT will remain just another strange event in the short history of their deployment.

  2. I don't think CTC rotations are all that useful predictors of anything. It's tough to take the "training" seriously, particularly with the emphasis on MILES, safety, and canned scenarios. NTC is particularly bad on the latter - JRTC gives a lot more free play. Not saying that I know how to create a good CTC experience, but just pointing out that it's far from adequate and far from being a useful means of evaluating current proficiency and/or predicting future success.

  3. Schmedlap---when your Division Senior Trainer and the Cmdr NTC sit down and explain your failures as a SBCT Cmdr and were on the verge of redlining the SBCT THEN you know you are in trouble.

    When you focus an entire SBCT on the concept of "counter-guerrilla" and you reject the latest COIN FM guidance and lessons learned you are doomed---the SBCT acted no different in Afghanistan in the initial six months than it did during the NTC rotation with the same BN having the same problems (the same problems in the NTC were the same ones seen in Afghanistan)---so yes one can in fact seem trends during a FSO rotation that will be telling if the BCT does not correct them prior to deployment---in this case the 5/2 SBCT did not like what they heard at the NTC and continued to act accordingly.

  4. Counter-guerrilla is the same thing as counter-insurgentcy. Can you be more specific?

  5. MikeF--

    Counter-guerrilla as defined by the 1968 and 74 FMs.

    At no time was the entire SBCT Staff including the BN Staffs willing to counter that drift even though a few of the officers would privately indicate they felt more attention should be paid to the new COIN FM.

    Again having a total of three Generals getting involved with the SBCT's ineffective FSO rotation was not a pretty thing to see---part of the problem gave from the fact that during their LTP phase there was rumit floating that the SBCT would be redirected from an Iraqi deployment for which they have trained over two years for and were heading instead to Afghanistan--in this case the rumint was accurate and the SBCT leadership simply was not mentally prepared for the sea change.

  6. Thanks for the reply. I imagine that wasn't a fun rotation. We'll have to wait and see how the whole thing plays out.