Bales at the Fort Irwin National Training Center in August 2011
|Occupation||U.S. Army Staff Sergeant|
June 30, 1973 |
Norwood, Ohio, United States
|Date||March 11, 2012
|Location(s)||Balandi and Alkozai villages of Afghanistan|
|Weapon(s)||Reported to have been armed with an M4 carbine affixed with M203 grenade launcher and an M9 pistol as a sidearm; some victims were found with stab wounds in addition to gunshot wounds.|
Robert Bales (born June 30, 1973)  is a United States Army soldier who allegedly murdered sixteen Afghan civilians in Panjwai, Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 11, 2012. The incident has since been widely referred to in media reports as the Kandahar massacre.
On March 23, 2012 Bales was formally charged with seventeen counts of murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder. He is currently being held in detention at Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
On December 18, 2012 the U.S. Army referred Bales' case to court martial; Army officials will seek the death penalty.
Early life 
Bales grew up in Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, as the youngest of five boys. He attended Norwood High School, where he was described as a "gregarious" captain of the football team and was active in numerous clubs and activities, including theater. He was supplanted in his linebacker position by future NFL player Marc Edwards, whom he mentored.
After high school Bales briefly enrolled at the College of Mount St. Joseph, then transferred to Ohio State University, where he studied economics for three years, but left without graduating in 1996.
After leaving college Bales worked as a registered broker at five financial services firms in Columbus, Ohio. The firms were interrelated, sharing employees and corporate offices. They were reputedly boiler room operations that practiced pump and dump techniques in the penny stock market. He then moved to Florida, where he co-founded a financial company named Spartina Investments. Soon after, an arbitrator found Bales liable for financial fraud related to the handling of a retirement account and ordered him to pay $1.4 million in civil damages. Gary Liebschner, the victim, said he "never got paid a penny" of the award.
According to Leibschner's lawyer, they had not pursued legal action against Bales to collect the judgement because they were unable to locate Bales, who had joined the Army eighteen months after the long-running arbitration case was filed. In 2001, shortly after the fraud, Spartina Investments went out of business. Bales enlisted in the Army that November.
Military service 
Bales was initially assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2d Infantry Division in Fort Lewis. He completed three tours in the Iraq War: twelve months in 2003 and 2004, fifteen months in 2006 and 2007, and ten months in 2009 and 2010. In the 2007 tour he reportedly injured his foot in the Battle of Najaf, and in the 2010 tour he was treated for traumatic brain injury after his vehicle was rolled in an accident.
Public records show Bales had minor run-ins with police while stationed at Fort Lewis. In 2002 he got into a fight with a security guard at a Tacoma area casino and was charged with misdemeanor criminal assault, but the charge was dismissed after he paid a small fine and attended anger management classes. Another confrontation outside of a bar in 2008 was also reported to police, but no charges were filed.
On February 1, 2012 Bales was assigned to Camp Belambay in Kandahar Province, where he was responsible for providing base security for U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEALs who were engaged in village stability operations.
Kandahar massacre 
On the night of March 11, 2012, sixteen Afghan civilians were shot and killed in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai near Camp Belamby. On March 24, US Army investigators alleged that Bales was the only person responsible for the shootings, and that he split the killings into two attacks, returning to Camp Belamby after the first attack before slipping out again an hour later.
A senior military official said Bales had been drinking alcohol with two other soldiers on the night of the shootings, in violation of military rules in combat zones. According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Bales acknowledged the killings and "told individuals what happened" immediately after being captured. Minutes later he refused to speak with investigators and asked for an attorney. Bales' civilian attorney John Henry Browne, who also represented serial killer Ted Bundy, later said, "I don't know that the government is going to prove much. There's no forensic evidence. There's no confession."
Bales was quickly transferred out of Afghanistan, stopping in Kuwait. The sudden transfer to Kuwait prompted a diplomatic uproar, as the Kuwaiti government heard about the Bales case from news reports before hearing from the U.S. government. "When they learned about it, the Kuwaitis blew a gasket and wanted him out of there," an unnamed official said.
On March 16, 2012, Bales was flown from Kuwait to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, a state-of-the-art, medium/minimum custody facility. According to U.S. Army Colonel James Hutton, Chief of Media Relations, Bales was being held in special housing in his own cell and was able to go outside the cell "for hygiene and recreational purposes." In October 2012 he was transferred to Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
On March 23, 2012, the U.S. government charged Bales with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder, and six counts of assault.
John Henry Browne will defend Bales alongside military lawyers. Browne was retained by the sergeant's family and has described Bales as "mild-mannered," and claims his client was upset after seeing a friend's leg blown off the day before the killings, but held no animosity toward Muslims. "I think the message for the public in general is that he's one of our boys and they need to treat him fairly." Browne has denied that the deadly rampage was caused by alcohol intoxication or marital problems and said that Bales was "reluctant to serve." According to Browne, Bales did not want to return to the front lines. "He wasn't thrilled about going on another deployment...he was told he wasn't going back, and then he was told he was going." Browne has also criticized anonymous reports from government officials, stating "the government is going to want to blame this on an individual rather than blame it on the war."
According to Gary Solis, an expert on war crimes and the military justice system, an insanity defense is likely. "It's hard to say whether the case will even go to trial because in war crimes like this it's very possible that there will be...an insanity defense, that he is unable to recognize the wrongfulness of his act because of a severe mental disease or injury".
Bales had no history of mental disorder, and had undergone an expansive mental health screening to become a sniper in 2008. In 2010 he suffered a concussion in a car accident, underwent traumatic brain injury treatment at Fort Lewis, and was deemed healthy. Investigators examining his medical history described his 10-year Army career as "unremarkable" and found no evidence of serious traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress. A high-ranking U.S. official told The New York Times, "When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues - he just snapped."
Under the U.S. military legal code, the death penalty is possible but requires presidential approval. Six military members are currently on death row, but none have been executed since Private First Class John A. Bennett was hanged in 1961.
Personal life 
Regarding the murders for which he was charged, Bales' wife Karilyn told People magazine, "...I know my husband didn't do that. That's not Bob." On CBS This Morning on July 2, 2012, Bales (captioned as Kari) said she had spoken often to her husband in detention, but never asked him about what happened in the Panjwali villages. "We just talk about family matters," she said.
The Bales were struggling financially and had put their home up for sale three days before the shootings. The property was listed for $50,000 less than what they paid for it in 2005, and less than they owed the bank.
According to officials, Bales may have had marital problems since returning from deployment in Iraq in 2010. Bales' wife blogged about her disappointment in her husband being passed over for a promotion to sergeant first class, "after all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends." She also looked forward to the family's next duty station, listing her top choices as Germany, Italy, Hawaii, Kentucky, or Georgia, calling the possibilities opportunities for adventure.
Awards and decorations 
Bales received the following awards:
See also 
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Johnson, Gene (5 November 2012). "Prosecutor: US soldier had blood of victims on him". Seattle Times. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Army To Seek Death For Robert Bales". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Dao, James. At Home, Asking How 'Our Bobby' Became War Crime Suspect New York Times March 18, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- "Money, job strife dogged accused Afghan shooter". Army Times. Associated Press. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "Suspect in Afghanistan shootings had fallen on hard times". Los Angeles Times. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "Afghanistan suspect had shaky business dealings" www.businessweek.com Retrieved March 22, 2012
- "Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was found liable in financial fraud". The Washington Post. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- Henderson, Peter, and Jed Horowitz, "Afghan Shooting Suspect Did Not Pay Fraud Judgment", Reuters, (wire service report), 21 March 2012.
- "Afghan shooting suspect did not pay fraud judgment". Reuters. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "US soldier accused in Afghan massacre had brain injury history". MSNBC. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "Robert Bales: 2002 assault case involved casino guard" www.latimes.com Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Baker, Mike and Manuel Valdes. "Soldier Accused of 2nd Assault" www.abcnews.com Retrieved March 22, 2012.
- "Lewis-McChord soldier accused in killings of Afghan civilians". KATU. 11 March 2012.
- "Taliban fire on Afghan president's brothers at shooting memorial service". The Christian Science Monitor. Associated Press. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "U.S. now counts 16 dead in Afghan massacre". USA Today. Associated Press. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "U.S. servicemember opens fire on Afghans; at least 15 dead". USA Today. AP. 11 March 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
- "Army Identifies Afghanistan Shooting Suspect". United States Department of Defense. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- US Believes Accused Soldier Split Killing Spree - AP
- "Accused G.I. ‘Snapped’ Under Strain, Official Says". The New York Times. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Afghan Massacre Suspect: 'I Did It'". ABC News. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "'Barefoot Bandit' lawyer to defend soldier in Afghan murders". USA Today. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Afghan Delegation Comes Under Fire at Site of Massacre". ABC news. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Army Sgt. Robert Bales' lawyer questions evidence in Afghanistan killings". msnbc.com. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Ashton, Adam (16 October 2012). "Staff Sgt. Robert Bales awaits hearing on Afghan killings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord". McClatchy. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Robert Bales to be charged with 17 counts of murder www.guardian.co.uk Retrieved March 22, 2012
- "Afghan massacre US soldier 'reluctant to serve'". BBC. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "US army names Afghan killings suspect". Al Jazeera. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- Willis, Amy (16 March 2012). "US soldier accused of Afghan massacre did not want to return to frontline". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "Accused soldier in Afghanistan shooting could face death penalty, plead insanity". Fox News Channel. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "Soldier Held in Afghan Massacre Had Brain Injury, Marital Problems". ABC News. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "Soldier accused in Afghan killings on his way to Kansas base". CNN Wire Staff. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "After Afghan massacre, how deep are the wounds?". USA Today. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "Sergeant’s Wife Kept a Blog on the Travails of Army Life". The New York Times. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
- Champ Clark (July 2012). "I Believe In my Husband". People Magazine: 66–69.
- "Sgt Robert Bales: The story of the soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan villagers". The Telegraph. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
- "Army Identifies Afghanistan Shooting Suspect" www.defense.gov Retrieved March 22, 2012.