American Military “Death Squad” Charged With Murder

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SPC Adam Winfield: Courtesy of the Winfield Family: AP

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The leader of the kill team Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was given life in prison for 15 convictions including three of premeditated murder. He is eligible for parole in 9 years even after he admittied to cutting off fingers and other body parts to keep as trophies of his kills. The three other defendants have pleaded guilty and several accepted plea agreements in turn for lighter sentences. Two testified against Gibbs and all but two have been convicted. In addition to the five soldiers that have been charged with murder seven others were charged with lesser offences that included covering up the crime and intimidating other solders to keep quiet. Most are now serving out their time in military prison.

Source: BBC News

The highest U.S. military court has denied a last-ditch bid to halt prosecution of one of the five U.S. soldiers in Washington state facing court-martial on charges of murdering unarmed Afghan civilians. More at Reuters Army Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the alleged ringleader in the murders, was ordered Friday to face a trial by court martial. Gibbs faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without parole for charges that include of premeditated murder in the deaths of three unarmed Afghan civilians, including a cleric, in the Afghanistan villages of La Muhammad Kalay in January 2010, of Khari Kleyl in February 2010 and at Qualaday in May 2010, according to court documents. Source: Reuters

Five American soldiers have been charged with murder for acts that they committed while deployed to Afghanistan. The soldiers engaged in a five month killing spree where they targeted random innocent Afghani civilians. The soldiers in some cases staged insurgent attacks so that they could justify shooting anyone who was near them. In one case a soldier threw a hand grenade to simulate an attack and the squad opened fired on an elderly man. The soldiers, who all deny the allegations, even dismembered the bodies of their victims and kept trophies as well as photographs. The original investigation was to determine if the soldiers were smoking hashish until a soldier informed his superiors of the killings.

The soldiers are,

  • Staff Sergeant Calvin R. Gibbs
  • Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock
  • Specalist Michael Wagnon
  • Specalist Adam Winfield
  • Private First Class Andrew Holmes

The soldiers are accused of killing a total of three civilians in unjustified shootings. The soldiers are facing a court-martial in their home base of Washington state. They’re all from the same unit; 5th Stryker Combat Brigade 2nd Infantry Division out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. Seven other members of the unit are facing charges of attempting to impede an investigation and for beating up a Private who blew the whistle on the units’ actions.

The first of the killings took place January 15th while the platoon was guarding a meeting of tribal elders in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. An Afghani, Gul Mudin, was approaching the soldiers when one of them tossed a grenade to simulate an “attack” and several of the soldiers opened fire; killing Mudin. Further murders followed in February and May. The killings came at a time when the unit was suffering heavy casualties with 35 killed in combat and 239 were wounded.

Court documents obtained by the Washington Post say that the “death squad” started discussing killing when SSG Calvin Gibbs arrived to the platoon. He boasted about how easy it was to get away with “stuff” when he had been deployed on a previous tour to Iraq. SSG Gibbs is also accused of illegally collecting AK-47s, RPGs, and other weaponry used by the Iraqi Army as well as insurgents so that he could place them around the bodies of those killed. He was trying to justify the shootings by saying they were simply returning fire.

The relatives of one of the accused has said that the Army failed to prevent some of the killings because he called the unit after his son discussed some of their activities and was told to report it once the unit was home. Mr. Winfield said that his son told him he was being threatened by members of his unit and that he feared for his life. The conversation reportedly took place on Facebook and the Army will be investigating that as well to determine if SPC Winfield was forced to commit murder. The unit returned from their deployment in June and all 5 were reportedly arrested as soon as they stepped off the plane.

These are some of the worst alleged crimes committed by soldiers in the 21st century. The acts are not that of the Army nor its soldiers but a rather rouge element of men who need some serious help after a lot of jail time. Simulating attacks to take out the stresses of war on the innocents is incredibly disgusting and these men shouldn’t have been in the Army to begin with. It will be yet another disgusting incident to add to the long list of combat atrocities committed by soldiers at war. I hope that the Army does not sweep this under the rug as they have so many times before forgetting that history repeats itself.

Sources: Telegraph UK , Washington Post, NY Times

Author: James

I am the owner and main author of My Bloggity Blog. I started this blog on a whim and it grew faster than I ever imagined. I seriously enjoy debating politics and foreign policy as I'm sure you've noticed but I also enjoy a wide array of other things that I try to include here.

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  • Cora

    Great article on a news story I would never have known about if not for this blog. The Private who was beaten up for telling about these murders should be promoted to aid in the training of new soldiers.

    My great hope would be for the military to recognize the numerous crimes they could prevent by proper psych tests and regularly searching for those men and women with sadistic personality disorder. The military provides the perfect smoke screen for these people and a bias by police when crimes are committed outside of the military in addition to skills from training.

    Though the number of sadistic people would be very small compared to the general military population. It would be a greater percentage compared to sadistic people in the civilian population. And each sadistic person harms many people.

    For those readers who think sadistic people would not be more likely to join the military, my argument is six words: Catholic priests and Boy Scout leaders.

    The Wikipedia definition of "sadisit personality disorder" was used for this comment because it did mention that the Manual for Mental Disorders "no longer considered (it) a valid diagnostic category" and I concur since "evil" is not a mental disorder. Though the listed criteria is worth the quick read.

    I apologize for the lengthly comment perhaps I should get a life (or a movie).

    • http://www.mybloggityblog.com/wordpress Owner

      Thanks for the great comment and while it was long your point was delivered perfectly. For the military to start doing the screening for psychos the military would have to admit that some soldiers have problems and we know how that will go. It is like their pre PTSD screening after deployments that just ask soldiers if they feel depressed, like they want to kill someone/themselves and so on and most soldiers have the ego of Donald Trump so they answer all the questions as no. I\’m sure it has been spread around as well that if you answer yes to enough of those questions that you will get a medical discharge so if you want to keep your paycheck/career then keep your mouth shut. Its the same thing they do to enlistees who have pre-existing medical conditions and psych disorders; NO means GO and YES means Your Enlistment Stops.