The Army's review of a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade's deployment to Afghanistan is complete but has not been widely circulated.
The Army in October launched a review of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division following allegations that members of a troubled platoon used drugs during their deployment, murdered Afghan civilians and posed for pictures with Afghan casualties. A dozen enlisted soldiers in the platoon face or have faced misconduct charges, with five accused of murder.
The review, carried out by Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty, was intended to look at overall conditions for the brigade, including its pre-deployment training under the commander who led it in Afghanistan, Col. Harry Tunnell.
The News Tribune and other news organizations have submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for Twitty’s review.
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The document is being released to defense attorneys with a protective order that prohibits them from disclosing the document to others, said Army spokeswoman Maj. Kathleen Turner. The order is intended to let defense attorneys review information to help their clients but keep them from influencing other cases.
“It is inappropriate to discuss the investigation’s findings before the judicial process has run its course in each case, as such discussion could prejudice or otherwise improperly affect the outcome of the cases. It is imperative that we carefully follow the judicial process to provide those accused a fair and impartial hearing while serving the needs of justice for all involved,” the Army said in a written statement.
Some have argued that the misconduct in the platoon reflected poor leadership in the brigade and at Forward Operating Base Ramrod. Soldiers in the platoon allegedly had easy access to hashish and assaulted a private who raised concerns about drug use in the unit.
None of the soldiers accused of misconduct is an officer. The lieutenant who led the platoon during a period that spanned two of three alleged murders was promoted to captain when he came home.
The Army has held tight to certain documents and information in the case, such as plea agreements some of the defendants have signed. It argues that the war crimes investigation is not finished until all 12 accused soldiers have their courts-martial and a full appeals process.
So far, five soldiers have been convicted of misdeeds. The five facing murder charges are awaiting their courts-martial, as are two noncommissioned officers whose charges center on assaulting a fellow soldier.