Army reiterates confidence in Lewis-McChord base
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Gen. David Rodriguez affirmed his confidence in Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Friday after a difficult week that began with news that a soldier from the installation was suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians.
“There is nothing different here than most places,” said Rodriguez, a four-star general who previously served in Afghanistan.
“Those things happen. … Everybody knows that doesn’t reflect our standards and our values, nor does it reflect the majority of the leaders and soldiers that serve here every day as well as overseas.”
Rodriguez commands the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based Army Forces Command, which is responsible for equipping and training some 250,000 soldiers, including the major combat brigades at Lewis-McChord.
The troubles at the base this week, in addition to news of the Afghan murders, also included the arrest of a Lewis-McChord lieutenant colonel charged with threatening to kill his estranged wife, girlfriend and commander and threatening to blow up the U.S. Capitol. In Olympia, a private from the base was stabbed to death.
In another development Friday:
• Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a fresh outburst of angry rhetoric against the United States, declared that he was at the “end of the rope” over civilian deaths and what he described as excessive U.S. secrecy over the investigation into the shooting rampage that left 16 villagers dead in Kandahar province.
The Afghan leader’s comments came after a tearful meeting at the presidential palace with relatives of the victims from Kandahar’s Panjwayi district, where nine of the dead were children.
Karzai said afterward that villagers’ accounts of the tragedy could not be reconciled with the U.S. military’s assertion that the shooter acted alone. The American military has produced surveillance video that reportedly shows the assailant returning to his base alone following the killings.
Seattle Times, McClatchy