Staff Sgt. Robert Bales: $1 Million in Debt, No Memory of Killings

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was $1 million in debt and has no memory of the killings. He and his wife had just listed their home for $50k less than they paid. He was on his fourth deployment.

How could his superiors not notice something askew? Was he evaluated or taking medication for depression? Taking the wrong combo of meds? He was recently passed over for promotion -- surely his record contains some concerns.

His background does not match the rosy description portrayed by those he grew up with: [More...]

In 2002, he was accused of assaulting a girlfriend and was required to undergo anger management. In 2008, he was cited for a hit and run accident. But his financial problems were much bigger than his legal issues. Before he enlisted in the Army, he worked as a financial advisor. He was accused of stealing money from clients.

Arbitrators found he'd engaged in fraud, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments. He was ordered repay more than $1 million. He never did.

It seems like he joined the army to escape the fraud allegations and order to repay.

He was in the army when he got charged with assault. The case wasn't dismissed for factual innocence, but because he agreed to take anger management classes. The police reports of his 2008 hit and run include allegations it was alcohol related:

A police report describes a 2008 hit-and-run accident. Bales admits he rolled his car after colliding with a signpost, but says he fell asleep. Witnesses saw a man running away, bloody and smelling of alcohol. Charges were dismissed after Bales paid a fine.

16 unarmed civilians were massacred in Afghanistan. I'm not buying that Bales is simply a victim of battle-fatigue. Should his mental state not relieve him of complete responsibility, he should be held accountable (Although of course I don't think he should get the death penalty.)

But there should also be an investigation into whether his superiors or doctors disregarded or failed to notice warning signs something was seriously amiss with him. Surely they were aware that he had twice been charged with a crime while in military service. Was there no discipline, no follow-up?

In addition, there should be a big investigation into the Stryker Brigade and its leadership. Bales was in the 3rd Stryker Brigade. It's housed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, as are some other Stryker units.

Several soldiers from the 5th Strkyer Brigade were responsible for past "thrill kill" murders of innocent civilitans in Afghanistan. One of them, Jeremy Morlock, was accused of murdering civilians months apart:

He is accused of killing Afghan civilian Gul Mudin in January with a grenade and rifle; killing civilian Mullah Adahdad in May in a similar manner; and shooting to death Marach Agha in February.

There were warning signs of disfunctionality in the 5th Stryker Brigade. (The 5th Stryker Brigade later become the 2nd Stryker Brigade and then in July, 2010 was inactivated and its members became part of the Brigade's Special Troops Battalion.) More on the 5th Strkyer's deployment to Afhanistan in 2009 here.

Whatever happens to Bales, it seems like the Stryker Brigades should be disbanded.

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  • Display: Sort:
    why was this man in the army at all? (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by cpinva on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 11:56:12 PM EST
    with his criminal background, he should never have been allowed to enlist. with the additional violent crimes he committed while on active duty, he should have been discharged, not let loose in a war zone, weapons in hand. he was a violent crime looking for a place to happen. whoever let him in, and whoever allowed him to stay in, are as guilty as he is, and should themselves be subject to criminal charges.

    the "Stryker" brigades seem to have developed a history of problems. i don't know if it's the situations they're placed in, or the personel who comprise them. whatever the cause, they're very clearly a problem, and should be done away with.

    Wow what a black eyeing (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 03:28:51 AM EST
    What is someone who was running away from stealing a huge amount of money doing with the highest security clearances in the land?  And what is someone passed over doing being sent out with SEALs?  They had just informed him he was not the best of the best, and then broken spirited they send him out to preform an extremely complex and destructive stress mission?  The Army must be facing being manpower broken again.  I have never heard of such a thing until now.  Not since the Iraq surge.  I guess the part where they trained him to be a sniper in 2008 I understand because he was willing and able and the Army was broken.  The part I really don't understand is where you tell someone who has at war for his country for ten years  that he is no longer good enough and will not be retained, and then you force him into the most difficult mission out there.  They had just devastated his morale.  And if he isn't good enough for promotion then how could he be good enough for the mission they sent him on?

    We must be broken again in the infantry.  I've never heard of such a thing.

    You forgot to mention, Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kmblue on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 06:24:12 AM EST
    That apparently the military was aware of his problems but did not want to treat him because it would be too expensive (NY Times).  

    And then to redeploy him? (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:29:08 AM EST
    After they refused him promotion?  We are drawing down and reducing the force number.  It was made clear to him when they did that that he was no longer a career soldier.  He would be pushed aside as soon as this deployment was finished.  If we are short handed you can't send mentally broken people who know they are washed out and ultimately unwanted in uniform on the mission they sent him on.  Well not true, you can, but you are nuts.

    Oh yeah (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 09:20:40 AM EST
    And Stryker brigades are a Rumsfeld invention.  I'm sure it wasn't his idea but he liked it and implemented it.  I remember my husband doing a study of their initial vehicle they designed for them to use.  They probably aren't in use anymore because they offered precious little protection.  It was a great vehicle for suicide missions.

    Let it Go... (none / 0) (#8)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 11:21:34 AM EST
    ...we get it, someone is to blame every time someone in the military does something horrific, but really Rumsfeld.  You are going to hang this on Rumsfeld.  He left office over 5 years ago.

    At some point it's beyond bad past leadership.  Let it go, that axe has been ground to a nubbin.


    Not at all (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:34:01 PM EST
    But if you would care to follow the links defining what Stryker Brigades are that Jeralyn links to, and understand what they were designed to do you may come to the same conclusion that Jeralyn did.  Or not, but maybe Stryker Brigades shouldn't exist.  Maybe they never should have.  The creation of them caused a big ruckus in the begining and it is hard to see how by design and attitude that they fit into a COIN strategy.  They are from the era of shock and awe and are a creation of Bush Administration and their strategies.

    And sadly the reason why their initial (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:38:23 PM EST
    Vehicles were so flimsy was so they could be fast and they were supposed to shoot and kill whatever was in their way.

    I Think... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:37:20 AM EST
    ... my point was more that current leadership has as much control as the past.  And if these should have been shut down, then they should have been shut down.  

    Rumsfeld has a lot to answer for, but not this.  At what point does the new leadership start taking fault in your mind ?


    Also, when I saw the initial report on (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 03:04:42 PM EST
    This this morning it from the White House correspondant for that network.  I know they are attempting to put distance between him and otber soldiers.  But if they knew all this about him and they still sent him on this mission, the only thing they have done IMO is openly admit they have stopped caring about what sort of person they arm and send to Afghanistan.  Leadership IS responsible for sending him (he did not want to go), and they are responsible for the powers and weapons he had access to.  Why didn't the guard stop him?  Because he didn't have the authority, and I don't care how the Pentagon spins this, there is no way they are granting Afghans authority over their soldiers.  It was more than "a cultural thing", it's a who is really in charge thing.  The leadership is just as responsible as this soldier was in my mind.

    No memory of killings? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 06:06:31 AM EST
    Does he remember turning himself in for the killings he has no memory of committing?

    Does he remember if he was part of a team doing the killings, as many Afghans are suggesting?

    Why the Lack of Memory ? (none / 0) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 11:08:53 AM EST
    Brain damage or was he really drunk and just blacked out ?

    Not that it matters, he will never see daylight.  Right now they are just fighting to keep him from be executed.


    "I don't recall..." (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 11:41:45 AM EST
    Definetly Brain Damaged (none / 0) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:01:42 PM EST
    That could be, I don't know (none / 0) (#12)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:08:17 PM EST
    But I do get the impression that he doesn't recall on purpose. And maybe he's even following orders to not recall?

    don't medicalize everything (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 01:07:07 PM EST
    "Was he evaluated or taking medication for depression? Taking the wrong combo of meds?"

    He spent years as a financial swindler with anger issues who chose at times to abuse alcohol.  If he hadn't been in the armed forces then he would have been doing twenty years to life in a prison.  Now he will.
    Criminals, policemen, and elite soldiers often have similar antisocial personality profiles on personality testing.  It makes them good at what they do.  However, that's why many elite soldiers don't fit into civilian life--except maybe as cops.  People only say that they need "antidepressant medication" when things don't go their way.

    Oh my (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by sj on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:11:25 AM EST
    You start to sound somewhat sane and thoughtful regardless of whether or not I agree with you.  Then you start going sideways, and by the end you have totally diogenes-ized the comment by ending with:

    People only say that they need "antidepressant medication" when things don't go their way.

    oy.  Double oy.

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#20)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Aug 18, 2015 at 08:16:01 AM EST
    Hitting many threads