In the predawn hours of March 11, 2012, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales snuck out of his American military post in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and allegedly murdered seventeen civilians and injured six others in two nearby villages in Panjwai district. After Bales purportedly shot or stabbed his victims, he piled their bodies and burned them . Bales pleaded guilty to these crimes in June 2013, which spared him the death penalty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. How did this former high school football star, model soldier, and once-admired husband and father come to commit some of the most atrocious war crimes in United States history? Although there are many likely explanations for Bales’s alleged behavior, one cannot help but to make a connection between the awful rampage of March 11, 2012, and the impact of almost thirteen years of war on the all-volunteer military.
Volume 86, No. 3, Spring 2014