In a Nutshell
At least three innocent Afghans were murdered by U.S Army soldiers in 2010. The killings were dubbed the ‘Maywand District killings’ and were orchestrated by a group of 12 soldiers. They killed an unarmed 15-year-old Afghan boy and other civilian Afghan men. The soldiers premeditated each murder and covered it up by placing weapons next to the bodies. The ringleader, Calvin Gibbs, took trophies from the victims by cutting off body parts and storing them. The ‘kill squad’ was brought to justice in 2011 and five of their members were sentenced for murder. The army mysteriously dropped all charges on one member with no explanation.
The Whole Bushel
Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs was sent to join the Bravo Company in 2009. He was to replace a soldier who’d had his legs blown off by an IED (a simple bomb). The company was equipped with a Stryker Brigade. Strykers were an advanced 8-wheeled armored truck sent to Afghanistan. The Strykers were supposed to get soldiers to the battlefield faster and safer than ever before. The Taliban’s retaliated by placing more IEDs on the roads and causing an incredible amount of casualties. Angry, shellshocked and directionless, tensions rose in the Stryker Brigade. Calvin Gibbs, who fought in the Iraq war, had a plan to bolster morale. He began to talk about killing Afghan civilians, stating that “all Afghans were savages”.
Drugs like Hashish were supplied by the Afghanistan translators and used freely. Fantasies about killing civilians rose to a climax when one soldier suggested a horrible plan. They would throw candy out of a Stryker while driving through a village and then shoot or run over the children. Ready to commit their first murder, the ‘kill squad’ went to a nearby village to search for a victim. They found a 15-year-old Afghanistan boy who was unarmed and alone on a field. Throwing a live grenade at him, the soldiers quickly shot him and planted a grenade on his body. They then followed protocol, removing all of his clothes and scanning his eyes with a portable biometric scanner. Gibbs cut off his pinky finger and gave it to Pfc. Andrew Holmes in a Ziploc bag. Holmes kept the finger, stating he would dry it out. One soldier remembers that “he was proud of it”. The soldiers took turns holding the boys head up by his hair and taking photos eerily similar to hunting photos.
The ‘kill squad’ murdered two other victims, always taking photographs as proof and human body parts as trophies. Although the US army says they conducted an investigation as soon as they were aware, the evidence says otherwise. The father of a soldier in the squad tried to notify the relevant authorities, but he was ignored.
In the court proceedings, five of the twelve members of the ‘kill squad’ were found guilty of murder. Calvin Gibbs received the strictest sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 years. Prosecutors found that he was in possession of “finger bones, leg bones and a tooth taken from Afghan corpses”. Specialist Jeremy Morlock received 22 years due to a plea deal in which he testified against the others in court. Those not convicted of murder were charged with a variety of charges, including drug use, assault, and premeditation. Although these murderers were brought to a highly publicized justice, many feel that the U.S Army turned a blind eye to the murders that were happening.