Sixteen Afghanistan Citizens Killed in ‘The Kandahar Massacre’; Army SSG Robert Bales Pleaded Guilty to Murder to Avoid the Death Penalty, Sentenced to Life (2012)

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SSG Robert Bales, US Army

According to early reports by media, Afghanistan citizens reported that on March 11, 2012 multiple US military members were involved in what is now referred to as The Kandahar Massacre. This was considered the worst war crime ever committed by a US soldier since Vietnam. First the media claimed that 17 then 16 Afghanistan civilians were murdered in their homes in the middle of the night. Shortly after military authorities learned of the murders, SSG Robert Bales was swiftly flown back to the United States despite protest by Afghanistan citizens who wanted him tried in Afghanistan. They wanted him to hang. The US Army transferred SSG Bales to Fort Leavenworth two days after arriving back in the US. They eventually charged SSG Bales with the murder of 16 Afghanistan civilians and announced that they were seeking the death penalty.

Prior to the courts martial, Bales lawyer negotiated with the prosecution and asked that they take the death penalty off the table in exchange for Bales pleading guilty to the crimes. It was accepted and Bales was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Since then the media has examined the court documents and deduced that the Army missed the warning signs. Bales was on his fourth deployment when this incident occurred. There were previous concerns about his mental health but no real follow up. Others noticed that his behavior was erratic. And Afghanistan officials were concerned that the Army was not monitoring their personnel and equipment. And after examining all the media accounts, one can’t help wonder if SSG Bales was a lone gunman or a scapegoat. In response to this case, the Army announced in 2015 they came up with a new plan to help soldiers with PTSD.

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