"Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company (Company B), 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, in 2011." This doesn't mean much to civilians but for the soldiers here it tells us who he is. He is a line infantry NCO who had served in a lot of combat and had done moderately well. I would have expected that with his record he would be a Sergeant First Class (E-7) by now, but no matter.
He was an infantry platoon sergeant with shared responsibility (with a lieutenant) for 43 "grunts" or however many there are now in a rifle platoon. For them he was father, teacher and patron saint. The lieutenant platoon leader is often too young and green to carry all that weight alone. Bales enlisted just after 9/11. Maybe it is not such a good idea to enlist people to fight for a cause rather than each other or "the regiment." Disillusionment comes eventually to those who have illusions about causes.
His civilian lawyer (Brown) says that he had lost a man recently to a disabling wound. Maybe that was "the straw that broke the camel's back."
The media are already beginning to create the image of a monster in him. It will be interesting to see if they succeed.
IMO it is unlikely that this man will be court-martialed. The likely course of events is that an Army psychiatric board will judge him to have been insane at the time of the massacre and probably still unfit to stand trial. If that does not happen and he is tried on a capital charge, then he would probably be acquitted by the jury on the same basis. Because he is an enlisted soldier rather than an officer, there will be enlisted men in the jury as well as officers. That is the law. In a trial the defense will argue that this man was driven mad in and by the service of the United States.
Whether there is a trial or not he will spend a long time in a mental hospital.
The Afghans will be angry? They would be angry no matter what the US does in this case.
Time to leave. pl