Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Soldier who killed 16 Afghans: I was consumed by war

08 June 2015, 12:55

Tacoma - The US soldier who murdered 16 Afghan villagers in 2012 says he had lost compassion for Iraqis and Afghans over the course of his four combat deployments.

The News Tribune newspaper of Tacoma used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain an eight-page letter that former Staff Sergeant Robert Bales wrote to the senior Army officer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord requesting that his life sentence be reduced.

"My mind was consumed by war," Bales wrote late last year.

Also Read: Militants lay siege to guesthouse in Afghanistan capital

"I planted war and hate for the better part of 10 years and harvested violence," he added. "After being in prison two years, I understand that what I thought was normal was the farthest thing from being normal."

In March, Lieutenant General Stephen Lanza rejected the request to overturn Bales' conviction or modify his sentence, an Army spokesperson said on Friday. That automatically sends the case to the Army Court of Criminal Appeal, where it might be considered again by military judges one day.

Bales, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington state, shot 22 people in all, including 17 women and children, during pre-dawn raids on two villages in Kandahar Province in March 2012. The massacre prompted such angry protests that the US temporarily halted combat operations, and it was three weeks before Army investigators could reach the crime scene.

Guilty plea

Bales pleaded guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty, and he apologised in a statement at his sentencing in 2013. He described the perpetual rage he felt, his heavy drinking and reliance on sleeping pills, and his steroid use. He also said he couldn't explain what he did, a sentiment he repeated in the letter.

"Over my past two years of incarceration, I have come to understand there isn't a why; there is only pain," he wrote.

The letter provides additional details about the paranoia Bales says he felt during his last deployment and the toll financial worries were taking on him.

"I didn't want to make a decision on the ground and lose one of my guys," he wrote. "Normally that would be a good thing, but now I know it made me paranoid and ineffective."


Over his combat tours he came to hate "everyone who isn't American", he wrote, and he became suspicious of local residents who might be supportive of those fighting Americans.

"I became callous to them even being human; they were all enemy. Guilt and fear are with you day and night. Over time your experiences solidify your prejudice," he wrote.

Since his confinement, Bales has been baptized and focused on his Christian faith, he said. He's also taking classes to finish a bachelor's degree and learning to be a barber.

Also Read: 40 wounded in Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan

The newspaper also obtained letters from Bales' wife, his in-laws and several soldiers who knew him on his earlier Iraq deployments when he was regarded as a sound infantryman.

His veteran friends described the qualities that led them to trust Bales during earlier tours in Iraq.

"My only regret in life is that I wasn't there in Afghanistan when Robert really needed a friend to see that he was struggling and pull him from the edge," a staff sergeant wrote on Bales' behalf.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...