'A base on the brink': where the trail to Afghan tragedy began
The trail to the Panjawi district of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, where 16 civilians were murdered in the early hours of Sunday morning, begins at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a sprawling US military facility just south of Seattle.
Here, beneath the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, around 40,000 soldiers are at any one time housed in between deployments. At 400,000 acres, and with 60,000 civilian residents, it is the largest and busiest base west of the Rockies.
Lately, it has become the most notorious. The suspect in Sunday's killings, said to be a 38-year-old sergeant with two children, is the most recent former Lewis-McChord resident whose behaviour during or after deployment has made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Two years ago, after four of the base's soldiers, led by Calvin Gibbs, were convicted of the deliberate "thrill killings" of three Afghan civilians, the forces newspaper Stars and Stripes called Lewis-McChord: "The most troubled base in the military." At Christmas, reporting on a rash of suicides – 62 since 2002 – along with soaring rates of domestic violence, drink-driving, murders, fights, robberies and drug overdoses there, the Los Angeles Times dubbed it: "A base on the brink."
The paper referred to a string of recent tragedies. They included an Iraq veteran who pleaded guilty to torture after water-boarding his seven-year-old foster child; another charged with torturing a daughter who refused to say her ABCs; and a husband who poured lighter fluid over his wife and set her on fire.
A soldier also kidnapped, tortured, and raped two women, attaching one, via cables, to a car battery and a husband murdered his wife and left her body in a bin.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...