May 24th, 2010
09:54 AM ET

Sources: U.S. soldiers focus of criminal investigation

WASHINGTON — At least 10 U.S. Army soldiers from an already-troubled unit of the 2nd Infantry Division in southern Afghanistan are now the focus of a criminal investigation into allegations they deliberately killed three Afghan civilians, used illegal drugs and conducted other illicit activities, several military sources told CNN.

The soldiers are part of the 5th Stryker Brigade of the 2ID, based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the military has not named those under investigation.

The military issued a brief statement last week saying a criminal probe was under way into the allegations of killing, illegal drug use, assault and conspiracy. One military official familiar with the details of the case told CNN the matter was brought to the attention of commanders by at least one other soldier. The killings of the three civilians did not take place in one single incident, the official said.

Those under investigation are members of the same company, the official said. All 10 remain in Afghanistan. One soldier is being held in detention known as "pre-trial confinement." The others have been "put in a position where they can do no harm," the official said. He would offer no other details.

Charges are expected to be filed in the coming days.

The U.S. military is bracing for public outcry in Afghanistan when details emerge, several officials said. Gen. Stanley McChrystal has made protection of Afghan civilians a top priority, the officials stressed this case appears to be one of deliberate murder, not civilian casualties as a result of combat.

The Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade, known as the "5-2," has been the subject of controversy for months inside Army circles. The unit has suffered some of the highest casualty rates of the war. Several senior U.S. Army officials have told CNN there has been a growing belief inside Army circles the brigade was not embracing McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy and was too heavily focused instead on combat operations.

In one of the most comprehensive analyses of the 5-2's troubled tour in southern Afghanistan, the Army Times reported in January that the brigade commander Col. Harry Tunnell replaced one of his company commanders whose group had suffered high casualties.

But the Army Times, a privately-published newspaper, quoted several soldiers who said that company commander was very popular with the troops, and that the unit's deep-set troubles and casualties resulted from a lack of training for the type of counter-insurgency warfare now being called for.

"What we're doing is not working, and we need to go on a different tack," the Army Times quoted one soldier as saying.

A senior U.S. Army official directly familiar with Stryker operations said the command of the 5-2 has been a concern to the Army for months.

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Cyrus Howell

    THERE ARE DRUG USERS, CRIMINALS AND BLACK MARKETEERS IN THE UNITED STATES MILITARY.
    THERE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.
    THE MORE UNJUSTIFIED THE WAR, THE MORE SOLDIERS TURN AGAINST COMMAND.

    July 13, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. daqueen

    I happen to know the one individual who is being held in "pre-trial confinement". He is a good man with severe battle fatigue. His drug test came back clean. The rest of the soldiers in the group decided to plead guilty to avoid the risk of severe dicipline after being told that if they'd plead guilty, they'd get a lesser sentence. The "one" chose to ask for a lawyer. He then spent 4 days with no blanket... no lawyer... no phone call... nothing but solitary confinement with a dirty mattress on the floor. I don't know if he's guilty of the other things they are saying.... not that any charges have been filed as of yet.

    Please don't judge him until all the facts come out. The assault has to do with one guy ratting on those who were doing drugs and then they beat the crap out of him.

    Please support our soldiers. They are supporting us.

    May 28, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 5-2 SUPPORTER

    The MEN in 5-2 have truely done their time for serving our country. Through the time they have been there they have seen things most of us will never encounter or can ever imagine. They had to do what they had to do. Life or death, I speak on behalf of my husband, whom has done nothing but day in and day out has been out on missions doing his best to do his job and get back home safely to his family. For those MEN OF 5-2 who have done nothing but fight to get back home safely, they do not deserve or let alone be talked about in these kind of ways. Shame on you who belittle the MEN of 5-2 who are doing their job and have nothing to do with this nonsense.

    WE ARE PRAYING FOR ALL OF YOU AND YOUR SAFE RETURN HOME MEN. YOU ARE ALMOST HOME (1month left).
    WE ARE TRUELY PROUD OF YOU ALL!

    May 28, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. M. S.

    I am one of those, back at the home-front, who have suffered from a loss of a great soldier who served in 5/2. I cannot possibly tolerate that this great man, give his life, just to allow ignorant people to mock the integrity of the U.S. Army. It makes me shake with anger thinking of those who have lost lives or are currently suffering and serving overseas, being trashed in the public eye. We have no idea what these men have been through during the duration of their deployment nor do we really know the details or certainty of what happened. In the meantime, I think all others who post comments contrary to the support of these troops need to keep their opinions to themselves.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kris

    Come home safely, 5/2. You are almost home

    May 27, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Amber

    Thanks to the 5/2 Stryker Brigade for their courage in fighting the war in Afghanistan against terrorism. I mourn with them for the heavy losses they've taken. A note to the commander-in-chief: Quit forcing our soldiers to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. Stop leveling the playing field. This is war.

    May 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Land of the Free

    Jack Murtha, God rest his crooked soul, tried and convicted the Haditha Marines in the court of public opinion. All have been freed and cleared of charges save one whose case has not been heard. It completely ruined their lives during the interim. Let's not do that to these young men. Thanks to all of those fighting the war on terrorism who keep us free. May God bless our troops, and may this quickly come to an end in their favor.

    May 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. FreedomFighter

    God bless our young warriors. They are asked to fight an enemy that wears no unitorm and plays by no rules of engagement. Meanwhile, our troops all too often can't even get the backup they need to stay alive when they are being overrun by the enemy. Of course, CNN always chooses to believe the very worst about our troops. Hey, obama, either get in it to win it, or get the hell out.

    God bless our troops!

    May 27, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. F. T. Arghandab

    where's my troll spray?

    most of you don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about and should probably STFU.

    May 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ex 5/2

    Guess what guys; the military is made up of NORMAL PEOPLE! There are good people and there are bad people, just like in the general population. These guys allegedly did horrible things, and the Army is prosecuting them for it. But 6 guys out of a BRIGADE of like 3,000 guys does not represent the entire Army or US Military. Get over yourselves.

    May 27, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. maureen molina

    My take on this mess is "what happens in Afghanistan stays in Afghanistan". If they did do what they are accused of then they should be tried in the Afghan courts. We bring Middle Eastern prisoners to this country and try them in our courts regardless of what country their crime was committed in. Turn about is fair play when the solution becomes the problem.

    May 27, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. Belle

    I am married to a soldier in 5/2 and the group of men that stand alongside him are men of honor. As those left standing behind our troops on the homefront, we say "IF YOU DONT STAND BEHIND OUR TROOPS, FEEL FREE TO STAND IN FRONT OF THEM!" See you boys soon!

    May 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jesus

    A married woman shouldn't have acces to internet, should be cleaning her house, cooking for the family, and keep silence

    May 26, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    I watched a program on PBS last week and every guy in this one unit was screwed up on prescription meds 24hrs. a day (in Iraq). They were obviously not acting normal and then they went on to say that they had a contest between them all where whomever killed the most innocent Iraqi civilians in a week would win. I suppose the US military will sweep this under the rug along with everything else. I wonder how many US soldiers would get killed if there weren't any in Iraq. Is it not time to end that false war that sidetracked the US military from achieving its prime objective after 911? and focus on Osama Bin Laden?

    May 25, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Malofeo

    There are bad apples in every walk of life, it's just unfortunate when they show up during time of war. No, Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman enjoys having their reputation tarnished by said individuals. Military service can be hard enough without being looked upon in an unfavorable light. To all my brother's and sister's in uniform who are continuing to fight the good fight, I salute you and pray you come home safely.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Bill 4

    Why is this surprising. Did we not learn anything from Vietnam. Some of our military personnel are not immune from the lure of drug profits, weapons theft, and yes assassinations solely for profit. Our Commander in Chief has the solution,
    repeal don't ask don't tell.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Hans Berken

    JenniPoohBear...You sound simple

    May 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Markle Salisbury

    Just like Viet Nam. We end up with a bunch of rejects and psychos getting high shooting everybody who moves. God Bless America.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  19. HazMat

    Hmm, this sounds like it has some backing to it, unlike the case where they were trying men for "roughing up" a prisoner during capture and transfer (I mean really, did they expect the guys to throw rose petals on the ground and serenade the prisoner?). "Onesmallvoice" and "Billy": You two are the epitome of mentally-stunted. Pending investigation, crimes in the military never go unpunished; in fact, military criminals are punished worse than civilian criminals. Yes, if this case is grounded, it'll ruin public relations; however, their own populace commits crimes fifty times more terrible. Does that make it better? No, but America never swore it was perfect, and military men and women surely aren't. I know so many who have come back from time spent in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, who are disturbed by what they see when it comes to what the people over there have the mental capacity to do to eachother. What has happened to me here in the states is horrible and almost unthinkable; to know that it happens there daily is a disturbing thought in its own right. That said, while I may not always be supportive of what our politicians do regarding the military, I have faith in the men and women of our armed forces. A few bad apples must never be allowed to spoil the whole bunch in view of the public eye.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  20. Jennie

    JenniPoohBear: Not very bright

    May 25, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  21. JenniPoohBear

    I support our troops on almost every front, but what I do not support is the murdering of innocent civilians. This article wasn't exactly very clear on the matter of why these civilians were killed, though it alludes to drugs and other possible bad things. IF these men are guilty, then they deserve to be put on trial and sent to prison, soldiers or not. NOTHING gives us the right to kill people in other countries we have occupied for any reason other than troop protection and the protection of the civilians in the country.

    So, I am hoping that this isn't what I think it is, but am also dreading that it is.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
  22. Larz92Y

    This absolutely sucks but you know what. I personally know alot of guys from this unit and I am actually from this unit. Let me tell you something. The support is great but when you have "internet" rebels, or those who belittle other nations and their military (coming from someone who has probably never had the chance to serve a great country) are only causing more harm to themselves. It's this continious hate that fuels every single reason we are at war to begin with. So to you HAMES i say read a book, or maybe some history. You might like what you find. Right now i am picturing you as a Marxist Gorilla. Not a fighter but one who sticks their finger in their ass and falls out of tree after smelling it. Please keep your comments to yourself. Go 5-2!, Bring um home safe and keep fighting the "good" fight. Love you fellas......Peace Larz92y out

    May 24, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • somebody89

      5-2 do yall thing.. we had the gay deployment here in iraq.. 3-2 should have been over there not a new brigade.. a bridage thats bada$$ 3-2

      May 25, 2010 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
  23. beto

    ignorance makes people stupid... all you that don't support our nation or our troops are ignorant, and when you comment on something you don't know about, it makes you sound like you have an IQ of a pigeon... like its been posted before... put on a uniform and see what you are really made of.... maybe then, your comments will be justified.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Lisa

    In a war, people get killed. Sometimes they're our troops; other times they are not. Hamed, perhaps if some people did not send their sisters into the street with bombs strapped on them...."civilians" would not get killed. Just speculating on this one. Our troops have to fight a war in which innocent women and children are being used by terrorists. If you want to stop the killing of "civilians," stop sending them out there. Grow a set, put on a uniform, and fight the way our troops do.

    Support the troops, y'all!

    May 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  25. PAUL SMITH

    I have served 15months in Afganistan. Ive spent 7 and half years in active duty and am still serving in the Army as a member of the reserve. Ive lost friends, seen all parts of Afganistan and have seen the sacrifices of some of the Afgan people we are not alone in this war. To Hamed YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE. CNN should track his internetbroad cast and at least get a location on this guy.

    May 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JenniPoohBear

      Paul, thank you so much for your selfless and kind service. I can not extend to you enough how much you are deeply appreciated. I hope and pray that you will make it home safely along with all of your friends. Until that day, may God watch over and protect you.

      May 25, 2010 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  26. stormvet13

    Billy, BITE ME... from ALL OF U.S.!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  27. the dude

    Support our troops. Obvious some people making posts have no clue what war is like. I have several friends who are soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines and they are all upstanding people. Believe it or not, they're protecting everyones freedoms, especially the freedom of speech. Final thought, take any group of people and there are always going to be some bad ones. Not that some of the people on this message board would know anything about that.

    May 24, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Cheyne

    Billy,

    The men and women who bravely serve our country, putting their lives on the line on a daily basis make it possible for you to use your right to free speech, however far removed from reality it may be.

    May 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  29. ARMY WIFE

    billy,
    How can you judge thousands of men/women in the military that are doing there job and making it a safe place for them to live, solely of the base of a few bad ones in the army...? Also if your not part of the solution, your the problem!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Army Mom

    Thanks, Mac, for your comment and service.

    Billy: How irresponsible of you to lump the whole Army in with a few bad apples. My 19-year-old son is over there serving his country so your dumb-ass can sit on your computer and pass judgement. Get a life or join the military and do something about it!

    May 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  31. us marine

    billy,dont pass judgement unless you were there and have all the facts.

    May 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  32. billy

    these soliders go over and jepordize everything that we are trying to do over there by killing civilians. now the people are going to get mad and thats bad PR for the us forces in any country. PULL THE ARMY OUT AND DISBAND THEM. Keep real war fighters in there. not the army

    May 24, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • mac

      Hey Billy, were you in the military cause it doesn't sound like it? Do you know what it's like to be in a war zone? If not than keep that comment to yourself. I served over 8 years in the Army and am proud I did so

      May 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose Perez

      billy
      You should go to your local recruiting office and volunteer then you have knowledge to comment. I served in the army and I am proud.

      May 25, 2010 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Billy,

      I am betting you are a kid from the way that you speak. When you grow up and actually see or do something in life you might have the right to comment on big adult stuff. Until then you might want to stick to your video games.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna G

      Billy, I suppose those "real war fighters" would be lead by you from your safe home sitting on your safe couch. You haven't got a clue what these men and women go through over there. ANY large organization will have a small percentage of people that don't live up to the standards of conduct expected of them. Having said that, try to remember that all persons accused of a crime have a right to a presumption of innocence until a jury of their peers finds them guilty of a crime. Go down to your recruiting office and join the military, put yourself in harms way, then and only them will be able to speak intelligently about this subject. Proud to have served in the Army for 8 years.

      May 25, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Iraq Paramedic

    GOD bless & keep all those soldiers over there, lay your healing hand on them & wrap your protection around them if it be thei will, in JESUS name I pray, AMEN.
    May GOD bless & keep us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • armymom

      Thanking God for YOU Iraq Paramedic.

      May 28, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  34. billy

    of course the army would do something like this. they are a group of un diciplined, disgusting, pieces of grabage that have to reason to even be an organization.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • david

      ok its spelled "garbage" not :grabage and i dont know where your getting your views on the unitied states army or your grammer lessons but neither are accurate

      May 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • steve

        GRAMMAR you dummy

        May 25, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I think your bile should be directed at the leaders who lied and continue to lie to both us and them. These poor soldiers are simply pawns in a greater game and deserve our prayers.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • cb

      Billy, I have seen people that are completly out of reality but you are number one...... Don't mix politics with the great job our soldiers are doing all over the world. Those soldiers actually represent us and like in every organization they do have some bad apples. The worst of all is that some of them had to die for people that think just like you, you do not have an idea of what is to be out there, keep hidding in your home and keep your garbage thoughts for yourself. Leave our kids and daughters do their job.....

      May 25, 2010 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
      • Cyrus Howell

        Sorry about your brain political washing cb.
        I was a US infantryman in the 4th infantry and I have a nephew who came to visit who has already served two tours in Iraq as a US marine.
        I also have a friend who served 3 tours of Vietnam with 7th Special Forces, and was a Sargaent Major at 29 1/2 years old. Bet you don't even know what that means.
        You don't know what you're talking about.
        I served i a unit with men(post war) who took 90% casualties in the Korean War against the Chinese and North Koreans.
        It was and all Black unit. Many of them did not live to see the civil rights movement or a Black president of the United States. America called and they went. They didn't say no. Six of my uncles fought the Nazis in Europe.
        Most of your heroes joined for a pay check.
        My sympathies go out to all those who lost limbs or received crippling brain and spinal injuries from IEDs in Iraq.

        July 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Onesmallvoice

      Well put,billy.These people will most likely get off as usual as they always manage to whitewash these incidents.

      May 25, 2010 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
      • SSG Hall, US Army

        These incidents are ALWAYS prosecuted in the Army and the Commander's are always replaced. Don't replace fact with half-witted ignorance.
        We do a job that most men dare not think of. Big t.v. talking heads and the living-room politicians can rest safe with their assumptions and that's ok, it's your right – and you're welcome for my providing you with the right to respond however you want.

        May 25, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
      • cb

        Your name said it all, "One small Voice" forgot to said of ignorance. I do not know what people like you and bill are thinking about.... if you think at all

        May 25, 2010 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
      • Retired Marine

        Isn't "One Small Voice" the name of the news column written by the villain in Ayn Rand's Fountainhead?That's an appropriate name for you then, making subversive comments that chip away at the integrity of a very strong system of justice and at the people who protect not only those in our nation, but people around the world. Our military is made up of exceptional men and women who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Every once in a while, someone does something wrong, and they are held accountable for it in a very open and transparent manner.

        May 27, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
      • Lynn

        Thank God for brave men willing to protect this country from terrorism. It allows small people to live safe lives without fear.

        May 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Cyrus Howell

        SSG HALL
        RIGHT, AND THE MEN WHO JOINED UP FOR THE ADVENTURE ARE THE VERY ONES YOU NEED TO KEEP YOUR EYE ON.
        MAYBE WHEN YOU GET TO SFC YOU WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT VIEW AND FURTHER RESPONSIBILITY.
        AS FOR YOU HEROS, I SERVED WITH MEN WHO WERE VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II AND KOREA AND VIETNAM.
        THE WEIGHT OF THEIR MEDALS AND CAMPAIGN RIBBONS PULLED THEIR CLASS A UNIFORM BLOUSES DOWN AROUND THEIR BELT BUCKLES.
        THEY FOUGHT THREE WAR AND THEY MADE A HECK OF A LOT LESS MONEY THAN YOU DO.

        July 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
      • Cyrus Howell

        What's up retired marine?
        Are you angry with people who won't polish your medals for you?
        I don't know about you, but I fought for the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
        Most of the ex-marines I know are Chicago policemen and tac squad and narcotics officers.
        They didn't just retire as lifers. Can we we be of any assistance in waving your flag for you?

        July 13, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lynn

      Silly, silly, simple-minded coward.

      May 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • M. S.

      Billy, It is my assumption that you have no face to attach to the Army. For if you had that connection your thoughts about the Army, and military in general, would be quite different.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |