By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – The Army has identified the U.S. soldier accused of killing Afghan civilians in a March 11 rampage as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, according to a statement released here last night.
Bales, from Fort Jensen Beach, Fla., is accused of leaving his base in Kandahar province in the middle of the night and shooting Afghans in their homes nearby. Afghan officials say 17 were killed.
The infantryman, who Army officials say completed sniper training and held three good conduct medals, was flown from Afghanistan March 14 to a military detention facility in Kuwait, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed during an interview last night during an interview with Charlie Rose in New York.
From Kuwait, Bales was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and is being held in pre-trial confinement there at the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, a state-of-the-art, medium/minimum custody facility, Army officials said.
That facility provides pre- and post-trial confinement for U.S. military inmates sentenced to up to five years of confinement. It has 464 beds but the number of inmates in pre-trial confinement at any given time typically is around 12, Army Col. James Hutton, chief of media relations, said.
Also at Fort Leavenworth is the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, which houses military inmates sentenced to more than five years of confinement.
Bales is being held in special housing in his own cell. He will be able to go outside the cell “for hygiene and recreational purposes,” Hutton said, and will be allowed religious support if he asks for it.
According to the Army release, Bales enlisted two months after 9/11 on Nov. 8, 2001, and was with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
According to Bales’ service record, he had an associate’s degree from a 2-year college and his military training included warrior and advanced leaders courses, sniper training and combatives levels 1 and 2.
He was deployed three times to Iraq -- in 2003 for 12 months, in 2006 for 15 months and in 2009 for 10 months. He was deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 1.
Besides three good conduct medals, Bales’ awards and decorations include two Iraq Campaign Medal Campaign Stars, the National Defense Service Medal, combat and expert Infantry Badges, six Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, two Meritorious Unit Commendations and an Army Superior Unit Award.