Lewis-McChord, Most Troubled Base in the Military?
Since it became known that the soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, in the March 11 rampage in Afghanistan, was based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord the question that has been asked most frequently is: “Is there something wrong with Joint Base Lewis-McChord?”
One of our contributors noted: “There will be trials within trials going on. In addition to Sgt. Bales Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be on trial.”
True. The alleged shooter, 38-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, has been stationed at Lewis-McChord for the last ten years — when not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Some connected the massacre to other problems at the base south of Tacoma, Wash.: a record number of suicides, several investigations into the treatment of soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a “kill team” convicted of murdering civilians for sport in Afghanistan and a string of other crimes involving present and past soldiers.
But, is Lewis-McChord really the “most troubled base in the military?”
A couple of reporters for the Tacoma, Wash., News Tribune — Christian Hill and Adam Ashton — have looked into this issue and answer some “of the most pressing questions about the base.”
Some of the questions they ask are:
* Does Lewis-McChord have a problem with soldier suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder?
* Do records show a disproportionate number of crimes committed by Lewis-McChord soldiers?
* Is Lewis-McChord leadership to blame?
* Does the “kill team” case shed any light on problems at Lewis-McChord?
The answers may shed some light on whether there is “something wrong with Joint Base Lewis-McChord.” On the other hand, they may just raise additional questions.
We may have more definitive answers to all these questions and, most important, to the questions of “Why?” and “How can we prevent this from happening again,” after the lengthy investigations sure to come and after the trial itself. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. And, rightly or wrongly, Joint Base Lewis-McChord will also be on trial
Anyway, please read the answers to the questions above here.