AFGHANISTAN

No Oversight for U.S. Soldiers Accused of Murder

A group of soldiers in a rogue U.S. Army platoon accused of murdering several Afghan civilians for fun claim they were unwatched by their superiors and smoked hashish regularly, reports The New York Times, leaving many to wonder what happened to the chain of command. In the summer of 2009, the platoon was sent to Forward Operating Base Ramrod, a military base 50 miles west of Kandahar, and became separated from its company. The soldiers then went virtually unwatched, which led to regular substance abuse, and murder, according to sworn testimony by Pfc. Justin A. Stoner. Urged on by their alleged ringleader, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, the men shot and killed three Afghan civilians to death, and attempted to cover up the murders. Gibbs referred to Afghans as “savages” and was motivated by “pure hatred,” according one of the men accused of murder. When Stoner reported the hashish use to Gibbs, several soldiers say Gibbs tossed two severed fingers from dead Afghans in front of Stoner, leading him to believe he would be killed if he spoke up. The soldiers are also accused of possessing a skull.