The U.S. soldier who is suspected of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan has now been named. He is Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales of the 3rd Stryker Brigade.
RT reports that Bales, 38, was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2011 and was with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. This division is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, just south of Seattle.
Military officials at the base (who remain anonymous) said that during his tenure with the Armed Forces, Bales was trained as a sniper and had several tours abroad.
Fox reported that neighbours called Bales a "family man" who often played with his two children in the yard of his house and greeted neighbors warmly. However they say he was guarded when talking about his time spent away at war.
"I can't believe it was him," said one of his neighbors. "There were no signs. It's really sad. I don't want to believe that he did it."
Interviews with his fellow soldiers revealed that Bales "exulted in the role". When in battle in Iraq, in an interview with a base newspaper in 2009, Bales said that he and his comrades proved "the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy."
Earlier this month, when Washington confirmed that a U.S. soldier had opened fire on civilians, it was necessary to keep the name anonymous.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said that revealing the suspect’s name before charges are filed was “inappropriate”.
John Henry Browne, attorney for Bales, told Fox News that it was necessary to keep Bales' identity anonymous to protect his family. Browne told Reuters that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, would likely be part of the defense.
Following the incident, Bales was held in military custody in Kuwait but on Friday it was reported that he is on the way to a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Not listed on the Army web site
Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle
RT reports that around the same time last year another soldier of the Stryker Brigade, Jeremy Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in prison after killing 3 Afghans. Morlock and 5 fellow soldiers were charged for the killings of civilians during the period January to May 2010.
The soldiers were charged by a military tribunal for killing "civilians for fun". The charges included dismembering the bodies, taking photos of them and also keeping human bones as wartime souvenirs.
The Stryker Brigade Combat Team, or SBCT, has been viewed as an experimental unit and a possible model for the future of the U.S. army.
It is a mechanized infantry force, using the Stryker, which is an 8-wheeled variant of the General Dynamics LAV III (a U.S. army armored vehicle). This vehicle was built for the post-Cold War era, and the SBCT unit was the first to use it in action.