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German news agency obtains secret 5th Stryker Brigade report

Ted S. Warren
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, exits a Stryker combat vehicle, in 2008, during a visit to Fort Lewis, Wash. Col. Harry Tunnell, left, commander of the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Div., showed Gates various Styrker vehicles.

A German news publication says it’s obtained a copy of a secret Army investigation into leadership problems within the 5th Stryker Brigade. One soldier from this Joint Base Lewis-McChord based unit has pleaded guilty. Four others are charged with war crimes including the murder of innocent Afghan civilians. 

According to Der Spiegel, the 500-page report paints a picture of failed leadership, starting at the top with the colonel in charge of the 5th Stryker Brigade, Harry Tunnell.

The German publication quotes the report as saying:

“Tunnell’s inattentiveness to administrative matters … may have helped create an environment in which misconduct could occur.”

Der Spiegel reports Tunnell’s approach in Afghanistan ran counter to the U.S. strategy of working to win the hearts and minds of the local populations. Instead, according to the magazine’s account, Tunnell embraced a “search and destroy” strategy.

The report was authored by General Stephen Twitty and is based on 80 interviews. Gen. Twitty concludes that if Col. Tunnell were still in command of the 5th Stryker Brigade, which he is not, he should “be relieved of his responsibilities.”

The report has been kept under wraps while court cases proceed. It’s unclear who leaked a copy to the German news weekly.


Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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