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Archives: Nov. 2010

Nov.
30th

First Stryker court-martial set for Wednesday

The first general court-martial involving one of 12 Stryker soldiers accused of wrongdoing in southern Afghanistan is scheduled to begin Wednesday, the Army announced this morning.

Staff Sgt. Robert G. Stevens will face a military judge during proceedings scheduled to start at Joint Base Lewis-McChord at 9 a.m. Stevens waived his rights to a pretrial hearing, the Army said in a release Tuesday. The soldier could have used that hearing to collect evidence for his defense.

Stevens is one of seven soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division facing charges of serious misconduct while deployed. Five other men from

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Nov.
29th

4th Brigade Strykers get new command team

In another sign that the three Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigades are turning the page on their recently ended Mideast deployments and looking ahead to whatever comes next, two key leadership positions will change hands Tuesday in the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Col. John Norris will relinquish command of the brigade to Col. Michael Getchell at a 10 a.m. ceremony on the Watkins Parade Field. At the same time, Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Huggins will turn over senior non-commissioned officer responsibility of the 4,000-soldier brigade to Command Sgt. Maj. Paul D. Balmforth.

Both Norris and Huggins have been with

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Nov.
26th

Witnesses to Afghan killings describe alleged mastermind as a solid leader

The Army’s investigation into a group of Stryker soldiers who allegedly killed Afghan civilians paints Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs as the ringleader, but soldiers who served with him have been contradicting that picture at recent hearings.

Several witnesses who were stationed with Gibbs at Forward Operating Base Ramrod earlier this year say he was a solid leader.  In contrast, they say they didn’t trust Spc. Jeremy Morlock, who with Gibbs is accused of three murders. Morlock told investigators in May that Gibbs made up scenarios to kill civilians and they carried them out during patrols.

Here’s how Sgt. Eric Skinner

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Nov.
24th

McClatchy Iraqi correspondent putting down roots in the U.S.

Here’s something I’m thankful for heading into tomorrow’s holiday.

Jinan Hussein, an Iraqi reporter and interpreter who worked for McClatchy’s Baghdad bureau over the past few years, is getting settled in the states. She’s a journalist just behind the byline of many stories out of our Baghdad shop that have appeared in The News Tribune.

I met Jinan in late 2008 on my first assignment in the bureau, which at the time occupied the third floor of a Baghdad hotel. I was fortunate to work with a half a dozen Iraqi reporters assembled through the war by former bureau chiefs

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Nov.
24th

Trophy bone came from camel, not human, Stryker soldier testifies

News Tribune military writer Adam Ashton reports from a Joint Base Lewis-McChord courtroom:

Spc. Michael Wagnon’s former roommate testified this morning that a bone the soldier kept during their recent deployment to Afghanistan came from a camel that stepped on a roadside bomb intended for their Stryker platoon.

Wagnon, 30, is accused of murdering an Afghan civilian and keeping a piece of human skull from another shooting.

The charge pertaining to the bone is among the most troubling in an Army investigation that has netted 11 other soldiers from Wagnon’s platoon in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

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Nov.
23rd

Attorney for Stryker soldier drops out of murder case

News Tribune military staff writer Adam Ashton reports:

An experienced military lawyer representing a Stryker soldier accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan is quitting the case, his co-counsel said.

Former Army lawyer Michael Waddington is leaving Spc. Jeremy Morlock’s defense team. Civilian attorney Geoffrey Nathan and Army Capt. Mark Opachan are staying on the case, Nathan said.

Nathan declined to say why Waddington is leaving.

Morlock is one of five soldiers in the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division accused of murdering civilians during the brigade’s recent deployment to southern Afghanistan. Morlock faces a life sentence if

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Nov.
23rd

Non-mission critical personnel can arrive late at Lewis-McChord today

From a news release this morning from Joint Base Lewis-McChord:

Due to inclement weather and projected road conditions, Joint Base Lewis-McChord military and civilian personnel who are not designated as mission essential (Level Bravo for Air Force personnel) or critical (Level Alpha for Air Force personnel) are authorized to report for work up to 2 hours later than usual, but no later than 10 a.m., on Tuesday, November 23.

Officials urge employees who are unsure what time they should report to check with their supervisors for instructions. In addition, unit commanders will specify the report times for service members assigned

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Nov.
22nd

Army reviewing commanders who oversaw alleged “kill team”

An Army investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Stryker soldiers in Afghanistan has grown in scope to include their commanding officers in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty is charged with investigating the brigade to gauge whether officers should have known sooner about the alleged crimes. He’s starting with the training the brigade received before it deployed, and he is expected to look into what happened during the year it spent fighting in southern Afghanistan.

Five soldiers stand accused of murdering civilians in combat-like scenarios they allegedly staged. Seven more are accused of

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