Private Stoner and the Drugged-Out GI Death Squad in Afghanistan

US Army in AfghanistanThis is an appalling story of soldiers gone amok, yet the fact that a Private Stoner is the lead character in this New York Times report is unintentionally hilarious. Sample quote: “Private Stoner told investigators, the hash-smoking in his room was ‘to the point where the smoke was lingering in the air and the smell was impossible to get rid of.’ And “In an interview, Private Stoner was described by Specialist Winfield’s lawyer, Eric Montalvo, as the platoon’s effective drug dealer. Private Stoner told investigators that he had never used illegal substances himself, a claim investigators discarded.”

Soldiers in an American Army platoon accused of murdering Afghan civilians for sport say they took orders from a ringleader who collected body parts as war trophies, were threatened with death if they spoke up and smoked hashish on their base almost daily.

Now family members and the military are asking a central question: How could their commanders not know what was going on?

“I just don’t understand how this went so far,” said Christopher Winfield, the father of Specialist Adam C. Winfield, one of the platoon members charged with murder. “I’ve been in management for 20 years; you know what your people are doing.”

But interviews in recent days and hundreds of pages of documents in the case offer a portrait of an isolated, out-of-control unit that operated in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan with limited supervision and little oversight from senior commanders.

There are indications of missed warnings among Army officers who saw trouble with some platoon leaders but did not dig deeper — let alone suspect the extent of the problem — until investigators began asking questions in early May, nearly four months after prosecutors say the first of three murders of Afghan civilians occurred…

[continues in the New York Times]

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28 Responses to Private Stoner and the Drugged-Out GI Death Squad in Afghanistan

  1. Hadrian999 October 16, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    every time you hear one of these stories you can trace it to leadership,
    i served in combat in the infantry and and we didn’t do anything without our chain of command knowing,
    because they made a point of knowing what we were doing. every time something like this happens they need to hold leadership as well as the perpetrators accountable.

    • oman28 October 17, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      These kind of stories make me wonder to what extent this behaviour goes to. Would you consider this to be on the ‘isolated incident’ or ‘ common occurrence’ end of the scale?

      • Hadrian999 October 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

        they are a result of bad leadership, when command is doing it’s job setting the standard and enforcing discipline they may happen as isolated incidents. when command encourages dishonorable and the toughguy fratboy mentality it can become systemic. in the climate my unit set during the early days of the war this would strike me as unthinkable but if you get a commander with a holy war mentality i could see it easily becoming a major problems. It’s easy to lose yourself in war due to the things you see and the seeming removal of boundaries of normal society and the tendency to dehumanize enemies, that is why integrity, discipline and honor are of paramount importance, when those things fail there is very little to anchor you. any slip in discipline is infectious, say some soldiers cross the line but it is swept under the rug, that becomes the new line. recently I have found out 2 people I served with in Iraq in my company have since then killed themselves because they were unable to cope with the things they did to prisoners, many incidents of prisoner abuse don’t happen because of malice, they happen because people who aren’t trained for the duty are given it with no real rules or proper supervision, making it easy for a few sick or angry people to influence their comrades. it damages our own soldiers and prevents us from achieving the goals we are told we are trying to achieve in these wars.

  2. Hadrian999 October 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    every time you hear one of these stories you can trace it to leadership,
    i served in combat in the infantry and and we didn’t do anything without our chain of command knowing,
    because they made a point of knowing what we were doing. every time something like this happens they need to hold leadership as well as the perpetrators accountable.

  3. gemmarama October 16, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    jeez, if this is the level of violence being perpetrated by the stoned troops, just imagine what the rest of them get up to…

  4. gemmarama October 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    jeez, if this is the level of violence being perpetrated by the stoned troops, just imagine what the rest of them get up to…

  5. Tchoutoye October 16, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Why would you need drug dealers in Afghanistan? That’s like selling water at Lake Superior.

    • Alarmar1 October 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

      Exactly. This story is a dubious news story at best.

      • chonus November 13, 2010 at 12:34 am #

        If you would have said doobious I would have agreed with you. Sorry I’m late.

    • chonus October 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

      Everyone needs a connect.

  6. Anonymous October 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Why would you need drug dealers in Afghanistan? That’s like selling water at Lake Superior.

  7. Alarmar1 October 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Uhhhhhh… I have had 5 children in the military and they all were subject to random drug testing. This story has zero creditability from me until I hear it from more then just one media source.

    • Hadrian999 October 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

      i had random drug testing in garrison but on deployment there was none,some of the things that go on in the field would shock you, 2 i remember was a whole platoon getting locked down after a entire squad was found drunk when they crashed a Bradley into a gate .the 2nd was a sgt major being picked up by a roving checkpoint driving drunk in a a humvee wearing only his pt uniform. you can get pretty much anything in Iraq and i doubt Afghanistan is any different

    • dumbsaint October 17, 2010 at 3:57 am #

      This has been all over the news for a while now

      http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&pz=1&cf=all&ned=au&hl=en&q=afghanistan+drugs+murder+lewis-mcchord

  8. Alarmar1 October 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Uhhhhhh… I have had 5 children in the military and they all were subject to random drug testing. This story has zero creditability from me until I hear it from more then just one media source.

  9. Alarmar1 October 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Exactly. This story is a dubious news story at best.

  10. Hadrian999 October 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    i had random drug testing in garrison but on deployment there was none,some of the things that go on in the field would shock you, 2 i remember was a whole platoon getting locked down after a entire squad was found drunk when they crashed a Bradley into a gate .the 2nd was a sgt major being picked up by a roving checkpoint driving drunk in a a humvee wearing only his pt uniform. you can get pretty much anything in Iraq and i doubt Afghanistan is any different

  11. Beatnix64 October 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Afghan gold…heavy shit..russians had the same problem when they were there. .

  12. Beatnix64 October 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Afghan gold…heavy shit..russians had the same problem when they were there. .

  13. VoxMagi October 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Hadrian gets it…these things always happen in close circumstances where a leader has compromised the integrity of the operation by encouraging, tolerating and covering up extreme misconduct. Some people, usually the armchair quarterbacks with a two bit political agenda, refuse to acknowledge that these things even happen…and thats what the persons committing the crime depend on…the misplaced goodwill and confidence of others.

    Keeping this stuff from happening takes an uncompromising attitude and an unbending approach to the truth. It leaves no room for PR salvage efforts…it takes swift and total retribution on the guilty, to the fullest extent of the UCMJ…not the slapdash coverups we usually get.

  14. VoxMagi October 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    Hadrian gets it…these things always happen in close circumstances where a leader has compromised the integrity of the operation by encouraging, tolerating and covering up extreme misconduct. Some people, usually the armchair quarterbacks with a two bit political agenda, refuse to acknowledge that these things even happen…and thats what the persons committing the crime depend on…the misplaced goodwill and confidence of others.

    Keeping this stuff from happening takes an uncompromising attitude and an unbending approach to the truth. It leaves no room for PR salvage efforts…it takes swift and total retribution on the guilty, to the fullest extent of the UCMJ…not the slapdash coverups we usually get.

  15. Dshep369 October 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    Collecting body parts? I bet the images in the childrens minds were that they were characters in Inglorious Bastards. i didn’t finish the movie myself, but was certain that some moron would emulate it and make freedom of speech look bad.

  16. Dshep369 October 17, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    Collecting body parts? I bet the images in the childrens minds were that they were characters in Inglorious Bastards. i didn’t finish the movie myself, but was certain that some moron would emulate it and make freedom of speech look bad.

  17. Anonymous October 17, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    This has been all over the news for a while now

    http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f&pz=1&cf=all&ned=au&hl=en&q=afghanistan+drugs+murder+lewis-mcchord

  18. Anonymous October 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    These kind of stories make me wonder to what extent this behaviour goes to. Would you consider this to be on the ‘isolated incident’ or ‘ common occurrence’ end of the scale?

  19. Hadrian999 October 17, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    they are a result of bad leadership, when command is doing it’s job setting the standard and enforcing discipline they may happen as isolated incidents. when command encourages dishonorable and the toughguy fratboy mentality it can become systemic. in the climate my unit set during the early days of the war this would strike me as unthinkable but if you get a commander with a holy war mentality i could see it easily becoming a major problems. It’s easy to lose yourself in war due to the things you see and the seeming removal of boundaries of normal society and the tendency to dehumanize enemies, that is why integrity, discipline and honor are of paramount importance, when those things fail there is very little to anchor you. any slip in discipline is infectious, say some soldiers cross the line but it is swept under the rug, that becomes the new line. recently I have found out 2 people I served with in Iraq in my company have since then killed themselves because they were unable to cope with the things they did to prisoners, many incidents of prisoner abuse don’t happen because of malice, they happen because people who aren’t trained for the duty are given it with no real rules or proper supervision, making it easy for a few sick or angry people to influence their comrades. it damages our own soldiers and prevents us from achieving the goals we are told we are trying to achieve in these wars.

  20. Anonymous October 18, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    Everyone needs a connect.

  21. Anonymous November 13, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    If you would have said doobious I would have agreed with you. Sorry I’m late.

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