Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Just finished this article about the Fourth Brigade, 1st Armored Division, and the brigade's disciplinary issues at Ft Bliss.

During a pre-departure briefing this spring to about 360 troops at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq, Colonel Newell paced in front of them, saying he felt uncomfortable about their impending return to Fort Bliss.

“I have a little stress over sending a brigade home,” he said. “The sad truth is that it is safer for me to keep you in Iraq drawing combat pay with people trying to kill you than it is for me to take you back home.”

One by one, he ticked off cases in which one of the unit’s soldiers had ruined his life at Fort Bliss before the brigade’s deployment to Iraq last year: four suicides, a drug overdose, a murder committed with a baseball bat, fatal drunken-driving offenses, cases of domestic violence, and a shooting after an argument in a bar.

At least six of the unit’s former soldiers are serving 15 years or more in prison for those crimes, and more trials are pending.

As part of a housecleaning, Colonel Newell dismissed more than 150 soldiers from the Army and brought formal disciplinary charges against more than 10 percent of the brigade’s 3,500 troops. In one company, 39 of 150 soldiers were court-martialed.

Pretty sad.


  1. Less the suicides, this would have been pretty much a normal six months for an infantry brigade at Ft. Bragg, circa 1982. Drunken driving? Bar fights? Wife beating? Been there, done that.

    So I can't say I'm surprised that these guys come back from a deployment and do all this stuff only on steroids. Messed up, but, what did we expect? A bunch of guys coming back from being wired up 24/7 (or at least 22/6...) to find the usual post deployment infidelities, marital problems, dumb-privates-with-huge-cash-bonuses...

    The courts-martial numbers do surprise me, just because CMs are such a pain in the ass that in my day you'd have to practically do open murder to get you chain to send you before a court. I wonder if the journo included all UCMJ in this, not just actual CMs..?

    But, yeah, you kinda wonder if people would care about this stuff if the country was really at war?

    Naah. Gotta go - big sale at Target.

  2. FDChief, I second this, from being in both Germany and Ft. Campbell in the early 80's. The only thing would be that the domestic violence wouldn't have been prosecuted back then, until the guy put his wife into the hospital.

    A murder, some bar fights, a few deaths from drunk driving - yeah, all that.

  3. I've seen this too. The 6 months after returning from a year long deployment is a nightmare for a commander. You are pretty much assured at least one suicide, and at least one soldier getting killed doing something stupid. I like this commander's approach of putting it all out on the table for the troops, I always gave my guys a very personal counseling about what to expect their first time home from a combat zone. Anyone who doesn't think it will affect them simply hasn't gone through it.

    IRT Army of the 80s, yah, can't even imagine. Completely different world, outside of those months after a deployment, a murder was almost unheard of (and if it happens, it makes national news), bar fights are few and far between (at least reported), and drunk driving deaths were down to a couple a year per division.