Key dates for brigade that was investigated
May 2007: Col. Harry Tunnell takes command of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. It’s a new Stryker brigade expected to fight in Iraq, just like two other brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
October 2008: The Army releases its “Tactics in Counter-Insurgency” manual, signaling a change in strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan.
January 2009: The Defense Department changes the 5th Brigade’s deployment order, announcing the brigade will serve in Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
February 2009: The 5th Brigade goes to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., for its final pre-deployment training. Tunnell fights with commanders about Army strategy and the aggressive maneuvers he wants to use. His commanders order him to focus on gaining the trust of civilians to develop better intelligence against insurgents.
March 2009: Tunnell chooses to change commanders for his 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. He replaces Lt. Col. Richard Demaree with Lt. Col. Jeffrey French. French was recognized as a successful commander during the deployment, but the change came unusually late.
July 2009: The 5th Brigade arrives in Afghanistan.
August 2009: The 5th Brigade’s 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment sees heavy fighting in the Arghandab Valley. It went on to lose 22 soldiers in that Taliban-friendly territory.
November 2009: Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs leaves Tunnell’s security detail and joins the 3rd Platoon, B Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment as a squad leader. He allegedly begins boasting about ways to kill civilians in combat-like scenarios.
NATO commanders order Tunnell’s soldiers to leave the Arghandab and begin a new mission patrolling highways.
January 2010: Two soldiers in Gibbs’ platoon stage a combat incident to murder a young Afghan. Two weeks later, the platoon shoots a mentally disabled villager in an incident that the Army views as a legitimate engagement.
Commanders voice doubts about the platoon’s leadership.
February 2010: Gibbs allegedly kills a noncombatant and claims the victim shot first.
Spc. Adam Winfield, a 3rd Platoon soldier, writes to his father that his fellow soldiers have plans to murder civilians.
March 2010: French replaces the 3rd Platoon’s lieutenant and top sergeant. Their successors are viewed as more effective at maintaining discipline in the platoon.
May 2010: Gibbs and two soldiers allegedly murder a third noncombatant.
The Army learns of the killings when Pfc. Justin Stoner complains that soldiers in his platoon assaulted him and frequently used drugs at their base.
June 2010: The Army accuses five 3rd Platoon soldiers of murdering civilians. Seven more soldiers are charged with various lesser offenses.
July 2010: Tunnell and the 5th Brigade return to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Tunnell moves on immediately to a post at Fort Knox, Ky. The Army reflags his old unit as the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
October 2010: Lewis-McChord senior Army officer Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti commissions Brig. Gen. Stephen Twitty to conduct an investigation of the command climate in the 5th Brigade and to assess whether officers could have done more to halt the misconduct in the 3rd Platoon.
December 2010: The Army obtains its first conviction of a soldier in its “kill team” investigation when Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens admits he shot at unarmed Afghans and lied to officers.
March 2011: Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleads guilty to murdering three Afghan civilians. He’s sentenced to 24 years in prison and becomes a key witness against the remaining defendants.
Brig. Gen. Twitty completes his investigation into the 5th Brigade command, but the Army chooses to keep it concealed while the courts-martial unfold.
Rolling Stone and Der Spiegel magazines publish photos of 3rd Platoon soldiers posing with dead Afghans.
August 2011: Spc. Winfield pleads guilty to manslaughter for his role in the May 2010 killing. He’s sentenced to three years in prison.
September 2011: Pfc. Andrew Holmes pleads guilty for his role in the January 2010 killing. He’s sentenced to seven years in prison.
October 2011: Alleged “kill team” ringleader Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs is expected to go to trial at Lewis-McChord.
Sources: Army records, court testimony