A 'Kill Team' Of American Soldiers In Afghanistan

This article is more than 7 years old.

This weekend a soldier allegedly killed 16 Afghan villagers. He is from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is the same base of a number of soldiers who allegedly murdered innocent civilians in Afghanistan earlier on.

The Americans were allegedly part of a so-called "kill team" that targeted unarmed Afghan civilians.

Mark Boal, author of "The Kill Team: How U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Murdered Innocent Civilians" in Rolling Stone in March 2011 described how some of the soldiers in the Army's 5th Styker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based in southern Afghanistan, formed a "kill team." We spoke with Boal after Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty to the murders of three Afghan civilians. (Boal also won an Academy Award for his screenplay, “The Hurt Locker.")

You're dealing with a group of soldiers who were angry and bored they had been in A for quite some time — for 6 months when they started doing this. The brigade they were in had taken a number of casualties and at the same time, they felt very frustrated with their mission and their ability to actually find the enemy. The Taliban specializes in ambush style tactics which makes it difficult for U.S. troops to actually engage them directly unless you're talking about special forces, soldiers that go out on these very focused missions, and so for the average soldier, that is, somebody who grew up hoping to be deployed in a combat situation and trained specifically for combat it can be very frustrating environment when you're driving around every day and looking for the enemy and the enemy never appears, except to hit you, attack you remotely with IEDs. So these guys were angry about that, and I think at the same time there was clearly a very high level of racism within that unit. And the soldiers talked about how they didn't really regard the Afghan people as worth protecting, certainly not worth dying for or worth getting injured for. Which I think also contributes to this sort of dehumanizing way that they looked at the Afghans.

You sort of combine the frustration with the racism in that unit and add in the fact that they weren't really that well supervised...There's really clear failures of supervision here. And they were able to plant weapons on Afghans, shoot Afghans, you know, at close range, and concoct fabulous stories about how whoever they just shot was really a Taliban attacker and put all that together. And at the same time they were working under a commander who was incredibly aggressive - I shouldn't say incredibly - just aggressive, and so there may have been a false sense on their part that the command environment would look the other way.

This program aired on March 12, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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