The soldier who allegedly shot or stabbed 16 Afghan civilians—including nine children—has been identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He is being held in a cell at Fort Leavenworth's military prison, where he is awaiting possible criminal charges. The murders, which occurred last Sunday, have further pushed Washington's relations with Afghanistan into crisis-mode.
There has been some speculation that Bales may have been drunk, as well as suffering from marital problems and the stress of four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Fox News, which first reported his identity, "He enlisted on Nov. 8, 2001, shortly after the air war began in Afghanistan and one day before the Taliban fell to the Northern Alliance. His first deployment was two years later. He spent a year deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between 2006 and 2010, he deployed twice more for the Iraq war. His latest deployment in Afghanistan began in December 2011. According to the Army, Bales received several Army Commendation Medals, along with about a dozen other awards from his overseas deployments."
However, Bales's lawyer noted that his client was injured twice in Iraq, losing part of his foot during one surgery. Lawyer John Henry Browne said, "The family was counting on him not being redeployed. He and the family were told that his tours in the Middle East were over. Literally, then, overnight that changed. His family was not very happy... The government is going to want to blame this on an individual rather than blame it on the war." Browne, who said that post-traumatic stress disorder would likely be part of his defense, said he spoke to Bales, who "sounded distant and kind of like a deer in the headlights, but okay."
The Washington Post reports, "Army Capt. Chris Alexander, 28, who was Bales’s platoon leader during a deployment in Iraq, said in an interview Friday night that he “saved many a life” by never letting his guard down during patrols. 'Bales is still, hands down, one of the best soldiers I ever worked with,' Alexander said. 'There has to be very severe [post-traumatic stress disorder] involved in this. I just don’t want him seen as some psychopath, because he is not.'"
Bales's family was removed from their home Lake Tapps, Washington to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord base. The NY Times says that wife Karilyn Bales maintained a blog; for instance, he was on a tour when she gave birth to their daughter to Quincy: "When Quincy was born in December 2006, Ms. Bales wrote, she received a call at the hospital. 'It was Bob calling from the airport in Kuwait!!' she wrote. 'It was so good to hear his voice. I told him how the birth went and he got to hear Quincy squeaking in the background.'"