A Green Beret who fired on a civilian truck in Afghanistan showed “horribly poor judgment” during a deployment in which officers let soldiers drink alcohol and have sex in violation of military rules, the team’s enlisted leader stated in an Army investigation report.
A video montage that showed an American soldier firing a shotgun into the driver’s window of an Afghan cargo truck was posted online late last year, stirring controversy and prompting military officials to promise a thorough investigation.
Though Army investigators found no wrongdoing, an investigative report obtained by Stars and Stripes reveals new details, including allegations of “toxic” team members and failures in discipline and professionalism that carried over into operations, leading to the shooting, which the team’s senior noncommissioned officer called “stupid.”
The incident came as some officials have questioned whether the military is relying too much on special operations units and raised concerns about the strain of frequent deployments on the elite forces.
Officials found no probable cause to believe there was a killing or violation of the rules of engagement, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command said in May.
A soldier had fired a nonlethal beanbag round into the truck after its driver ignored several warnings not to encroach on a U.S. convoy, officials said.
The investigation report includes sworn statements from most of the 12-member team, though the names of the members and two other Green Berets interviewed in late January at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, Calif., were redacted.
Part of the California National Guard’s Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the 12-man team deployed to Afghanistan in late 2016. The shooting occurred sometime in January or February 2017 near Bagram Air Field, officials said.
The shot through the window may have been the only way to get the driver’s attention, the team’s commander, a captain, told an investigator. The driver ignored small flares and other warnings, he said.
The captain assessed the driver as “fine” after the incident and said if the shooting had resulted in a death, locals would have complained on social media about coalition forces “conducting vile acts (with) no repercussions.”