NPR has confirmed the name of the Washington-based soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians. He is 38-year old Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, Washington.
In photographs in a publication called High Desert Warrior, a soldier identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is shown training last year at a mock Afghan village in the Mojave Desert. In one photo he’s smiling with a fellow soldier. Two other pictures show him pretending to interact with Afghan civilians. The captions to the photos describe a training mission designed to replicate a visit to an Afghan village where soldiers would develop relationships with the locals.
Now Bales stands accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children and burning some of their bodies. The Army has not yet formally charged Bales. His attorney, John Henry Browne of Seattle, says his client deployed to Afghanistan reluctantly and describes Bales as “shocked.” Court records show Bales was charged with criminal assault in 2002 in Tacoma, but the charge was dismissed. Bales has a wife and two children.