(U.S. Army photo) Col. Harry D. Tunnell
The investigation into those responsible for the Afghanistan “kill team” tactics led to “a letter of admonition” of Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV, reports the Military Times on Tuesday. According to MT: (bolding is mine)
Was a brigade commander an instigator or just asleep at the switch while the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, “kill team” was allegedly murdering civilians?
An Army investigation finds no “causal relationship” between Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV’s aggressive leadership and the killings, but it criticizes Tunnell for neglectfulness that created a climate ripe for misconduct.
The investigation, first reported by Der Spiegel on Monday, ended in a letter of admonition for Tunnell, per I Corps Commander Lt. Gen Curtis “Mike” Scaparotti.
Tunnell’s superiors in Afghanistan lost confidence in him after he threw out the playbook and butted heads with commanders, derisively rejecting capacity-building counterinsurgency doctrine in favor of a “counter-guerilla” strategy that concentrated in engaging and destroying the enemy.
Der Spiegel found statements in the Army report saying that Tunnell was out for revenge “on a personal crusade” as a result of being shot in the leg in Iraq. MT quotes a soldier who described Tunnell:
“One soldier said of a talk by Tunnell, “If I were to paraphrase the speech and my impressions about the speech in a single sentence, the phrase would be: ‘Let’s kill those motherfuckers.’”
The Washington Times Water Cooler found that lawmakers on the hill claim to either not know the story or refuse to comment on the alleged actions of the Afghanistan “kill team.” In a Washington Times piece, Joe Curl describes the media blackout of the story entirely even after Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty in March for his part in murdering unarmed Afghanistan civilians.
The incident has brought comparisons to the 11 army guards at Abu Ghraib in 2004 who were tried and convicted on a number of counts for what was called detainee abuse and torture. No Abu Ghraib prisoners, however, were killed, however, as a result of the crimes. Mr. Curl writes:
The two scandals have some similarities. At Abu Ghraib, photos of prisoner abuse streamed out. Der Spiegel, the German magazine that broke the new story (again, paging the New York Times), claims to have 4,000 photos and videos of atrocities against civilians.
But the similarities end there. The “kill team” is accused of targeting civilians — including a 15-year-old boy — and then trying to cover up the murders by making it appear as if they were attacked. Only 19 photos have surfaced; one shows a smiling U.S. soldier holding a dead civilian’s head up off the ground by his hair.
Donald Rumsfeld,former Defense Secretary for President George W. Bush, told The Washington Times last week of the Afghanistan “kill team” photos: “The situation, of course, is much worse if someone dies, but it’s a sad thing. It’s unfortunate. The overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform are professional. They handle themselves well.”