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Army leadership subject of 5th stryker brigade inquiry

Army Court.jpg
Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
The military court building at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. An Article 32 hearing, similar to a grand jury investigation, is being held inside the building.

Was there a breakdown of leadership in the 5th Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord? That question is central to a month-old Army review that’s just now coming to light. It’s the latest development in the case against a dozen soldiers recently back from Afghanistan – including five who’ve been charged with murder.

So far, all of the soldiers facing criminal charges are enlisted men. Some of the defense attorneys and families have been asking: where was the adult supervision in Afghanistan?

There are allegations of rampant drug use, not to mention the very serious charge that a rogue group of soldiers killed unarmed Afghan civilians. It turns out, about a month ago, the top Army commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord assigned a Brigadier General to conduct a much broader administrative review of the Stryker Brigade.

According to an Army spokeswoman, the one-star general is looking into whether soldiers in a leadership position should be held to account. Yale military law professor Eugene Fidell said there are any number of possible outcomes.

“It might not lead to any kind of disciplinary action, it might lead to non-judicial punishment or it might lead into the military justice process. You never know,” Fidell said.

He noted the fact that a one-star general is leading the investigation suggests the inquiry has the potential to reach all the way to the brigade’s commander in Afghanistan, Colonel Harry Tunnell.

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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