Alcohol, Adultery and Recklessness Found in Investigation of Green Beret Truck Shooting in Afghanistan
A video posted online in late 2017 of a U.S. green beret who fired into the driver side window of a passenger truck in Afghanistan sparked an internal Army investigation which found a toxic environment during a deployment where soldiers drank alcohol, had extramarital affairs and used video of the shooting to promote a clothing company.
The report, originally obtained by Stars and Stripes, found no wrongdoing or probable cause to believe there was a killing or violation of rules of engagement. Officials determined the soldier fired a nonlethal round into the window. According to Stars and Stripes, the captain assessed the driver as “fine” after the shooting and said if the driver had died, locals would have complained on social media about coalition forces “conducting vile acts (with) no repercussions.”
However, the team’s operations sergeant and senior NCO described a reckless atmosphere created by fellow NCO’s who subverted his authority and allowed alcohol consumption and extramarital affairs, both of which violate army policy.
“Throughout the deployment, I had to deal with toxic individuals who undermined my authority because they were being protected by the ODA officers,” he said. “This behavior spilled over into our operations, with poor decision-making by these individuals and those on the ODA negatively influenced by them.”
He also described shooting into the driver’s window as “horribly poor judgment.”
“Even if the civilian vehicle was trying to disrupt or enter into part of our convoy, ignored pen flares as warnings, a shot to the metal door could achieve the same message without putting the civilian driver at risk of injury,” he said.
In the shooting incident which happened in early 2017 near Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the truck driver was allegedly weaving in and out of a convoy of U.S. and Afghan vehicles. According to Stars and Stripes, soldiers said in sworn statements that the driver “had ignored verbal and hand signals, blaring horns, pen flares, flash-bang grenades, and attempts to run him off the road.”
“If placed in the same situation, I would have taken the same actions: pen flare, flash-bangs, less lethal, lethal,” said one of the soldiers. “These steps are used to mitigate collateral damage to the locals and to protect the lives of American soldiers and their partner forces.”
The investigation was sparked when the shooting was spotted in a two-second clip of a longer montage of combat footage entitled Happy Few Ordnance Symphony. It is believed the video was recorded by one of the team members who frequently wore a GoPro camera. Some of the other clips in the video are believed to have come from the same deployment. The investigation reported the soldier who likely recorded the footage had started a clothing company and used the video to promote their clothing company online.
Also detailed in the report were the actions of one soldier who allowed an Afghan to take a vehicle loaded with electronic surveillance systems to a local repair shop where it was left for 30 days. The soldier then lied to cover it up. The report said the action risked exposing Special Forces techniques and “practices used worldwide.”
The operations sergeant said in his sworn statement the carelessness was due to poor leadership and irreverence for quality.
“The ODA will perpetually have discipline issues and violate security clearance regulations because people are no longer held accountable when others only care about numbers over quality of individuals,” the master sergeant said in his sworn statement.