His defense will be that he is suffering from PTSD, which could be a winning strategy considering that this was his 4th combat deployment.
The U.S. soldier accused of going on a shooting rampage that left 16 Afghan civilians dead on Sunday has been identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a U.S. official confirmed to The Hill.
Bales, 38, is a veteran of three combat tours in Iraq and was on his first tour in Afghanistan during the incident. Bales had been in country since December and it was his fourth combat tour in 10 years. He is currently en route to the military's maximum-security facility in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.
Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne, told NBC News on Friday he planned to argue that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which may have led to the unprovoked attack. Bales may also have suffered traumatic brain injury during his multiple tours in Iraq.
Bales allegedly left his base on early Sunday morning and headed to a nearby village. Once there, he is accused of methodically moving from house to house and shooting the occupants as he went. Bales, who had reportedly been drinking at the time, then returned to base and turned himself in.
The act outraged Afghans and further fueled anti-American sentiment within the country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the incident to push for an early withdrawal on American troops from the country. The White House and Pentagon plan to transfer control of security to Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
The complication for Bales is alcohol. Ultimately, the base commander is responsible for seeing to it that there is not booze on site, but Bales alleged drinking before leaving the base will undermine his PTSD defense.
We know so little about Bales and the circumstances that led to his deployment and his alleged criminal acts. Was he cleared by an army psychiatrist? Was he in treatement? There was a report - denied by Bales' attorney - that he was having domestic problems. How did that contribute to his actions?
We will probably have to wait for the trial to clear up a lot of these questions.