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Category: Afghanistan

June
7th

Soldier from Olympia recovering at Walter Reed from critical wounds in Afghanistan

Sgt. Luke Cifka left for Afghanistan this past spring determined to return home to his wife and infant son.

He’s back in the states with family, but not in the way he wanted.

The 26-year-old soldier from Olympia suffered critical injuries during a patrol in Logar Province on May 31. He’s at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland at the beginning of what his wife describes as a “long road ahead” of rehabilitation.

“We’re very, super, super lucky that as serious as his injuries are, he’s still alive,” said his wife, Kait Cifka, 23. The family did not

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June
5th

Staff Sgt. Bales: “There’s not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did”

2:20 p.m. update: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will not face the death penalty when an Army jury decides his punishment for massacring 16 Afghan civilians, an Army judge said today.

Bales’ maximum penalty will be life without a chance for parole, Judge Col. Jeffery Nance said in court today when he accepted Bales’ guilty plea.

The agreement lays the groundwork for an Aug. 19 sentencing trial where Bales’ attorneys hope put the March 2012 massacre in the context of the soldier’s experiences over four combat tours. Factors including Bales’ reported post-traumatic stress and a past concussive head injury could help

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June
3rd

Rep. Denny Heck, JBLM’s new congressman, returns from first trip to Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s next 10 months could well determine the strength of the country’s government after U.S. forces complete their expected drawdown in 2014, said Rep. Denny Heck of Olympia who just returned from his first visit to the war zone as a U.S. Congressman.

He was one of five lawmakers who spent seven days traveling to U.S. military installations in Germany, Qatar and Afghanistan, as well as stopping in Kosovo for a meeting with leaders there.

Heck was elected in November to represent a district that includes some 46,000 military service members stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s been getting up

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June
3rd

Defense attorney for Army killer Sgt. John Russell argues troubled troops deserve better care

Nearly every time I write about the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province, I get calls from readers who argue the Army should drop its charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

They feel that Bales was a hero for serving with honor on three previous deployments to Iraq with Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. They believe his actions can be explained somewhat by the psychological toll those tours of duty took on the 39-year-old father of two. (They can find info about how to help Bales here.)

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May
29th

Former JBLM commander headed to South Korea as slots for generals change hands

The military’s summer shuffle of command assignments is shaking up a few of the top posts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Two deputy commanding generals for Lewis-McChord’s I Corps on Wednesday said goodbye to the base.

One, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, is moving on to command all Army installations in the Washington, D.C. area. The other, Canadian Brig. Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, is returning to a command assignment in Quebec.

Meanwhile, a recent I Corps commander is heading to South Korea.

Lt. Gen. Curtis “Mike” Scaparrotti, who only last June came home with Lewis-McChord’s headquarters from a yearlong assignment in

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May
29th

JBLM’s Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to plead guilty to killing Afghan civilians

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians last year plans to plead guilty to the killings next week, his attorney said today.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales hopes to avoid the death penalty if his plea is accepted, Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne told The Associated Press.

The News Tribune reached Browne as he was entering Lewis-McChord today and he could not talk.

The plea hearing is set for next Wednesday, an Army official told The News Tribune.

Bales must give a full account of the killings and persuade a judge that he

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May
3rd

Fallen soldier was a Green Beret in JBLM’s 1st Special Forces Group

The Defense Department today identified a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Green Beret who died Thursday at a military hospital Germany from wounds he sustained last week in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson, 30, leaves behind a wife and two sons ages 3 and 1.

The Army identified his hometown as San Antonio. His father, retired Special Forces Lt. Col. Michael W. Simpson, is the city manager in Olmos Park, Texas.

The elder Simpson has sent messages to Olmos Park residents about his son’s fatal injuries, and has received an outpouring of support from the town. The family announced the soldier’s

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May
2nd

Family reports death of JBLM soldier from wounds suffered in Afghanistan

A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier has died from wounds he suffered in Afghanistan, his family in Texas reported to local media this week.

Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson, 30, leaves behind a wife and two sons aged 3 and 1, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

His father, Michael W. Simpson, told the newspaper earlier this week that his son was wounded by a mine while driving on an ATV. The elder Simpson disclosed the injuries because he is the city manager of Olmos Park in Texas and he wanted thank residents for their support.

The

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