U.S. official: The suspect in killing of Afghan civilians has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Associated Press reports.
Of course, the village of Jaher Dar Lab-e is not located in Afghanistan, but in the Mojave desert of California.
NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, Calif. – It looked like a scene from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” short of a ball of hay, tumbling across the street. Replacing Clint Eastwood, Capt. Matthew Woods, Blackhorse Company commander, led his soldiers into the village of Jahel Dar Lab-e, isolated in the Mojave Desert at the National Training Center, Aug. 23.
It was around 4 p.m. when they stepped off from their combat outpost: their self-sustaining home-away-from-home, located on the outskirts of the village. The commander attended a meeting with the village leaders to further the mission of establishing legitimacy of the Afghan government and security forces.
The Stryker armored fighting vehicle is nearly 20 tons of machinery, including eight wheels and automatic fire power, all at the disposal of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Transporting these rolling giants of destruction from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to the National Training Center required the unification of commanders, non-commissioned officers, and junior enlisted soldiers to successfully complete the mission.
“The junior enlisted guys are the ones making this push happen,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Schaffner, a squad leader from Blackhawk Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 SBCT and native of Canby, Oregon. “They’re pretty much the heart of it. They’re physically fit, they’re mentally fit, and they’re ready for the challenge.”
(ABC News) – Bales, 38, a husband and father of two, was serving on his fourth combat deployment in 10 years, the first three in Iraq. He was on his first tour in Afghanistan, where he’d been since December.
The combat veteran is accused of leaving his remote base Camp Belambay in the middle of the night Sunday and walking about a mile to an Afghan village where he broke into homes and killed 16 civilians, mostly women and children.
The slaughter has enraged Afghans and Bales is reportedly on his way to the U.S. where he is expected to be charged with 16 counts of murder. He could face the death penalty. Bales’ alleged murderous rage is in stark contrast to what he said after a fierce battle in Zarqa, Iraq, in 2007.
According to his lawyer, a buddy of Bales had lost both legs the day before his rampage and killing 16 civilians. I have searched the Internet and could not find any mention of a wounded soldier. Most likely the incident happened on hei previous tour of dutry in Iraq where the Stryker brigade was involved in heavy battles with many casualties. In a cached article, Robert Bales fought in the Battle of Zarga near Najaf.