Army says it will court-martial Green Beret over killing of unarmed Afghan man in 2010

popular
Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

The Army will take Maj. Matthew Golsteyn's case to trial by court-martial on charges of premeditated murder at a date not yet determined, according to a release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.


The commanding general referred the case to General Court-Martial on May 15, the release said.

That Golsteyn is finally going to trial shows that there is finally some end in sight for a case that has dragged on for nearly a decade. Golsteyn, a decorated Special Forces officer, admitted during a CIA polygraph test in 2011 that he had killed an unarmed Afghan during a 2010 deployment, after a tribal leader said the man was a bomb-maker who had killed two Marines.

Since then, he's been on legal hold that has kept him from retiring from the Army. The Army revoked his Special Forces qualification and a Silver Star he earned during that deployment due to the investigation, according to Army Times.

As Task & Purpose's Jeff Schogol previously reported:

Golsteyn believed that the Afghan man would kill the tribal leader in retribution for identifying him, so Golsteyn executed the man off base, the Washington Post reported. After initially burying the man, Golsteyn and two other soldiers later dug up the remains and burned them.

Army Criminal Investigation Command initially did not find enough evidence to charge Golsteyn, but an investigation was re-opened after the Green Beret talked about the killing during an October 2016 interview with Fox News' Bret Baier.

When Baier asked Golsteyn if he had killed the Afghan man, Golsteyn replied, "Yes."

That the killing occurred is not in dispute. The Army maintains the man — who was captured and subsequently released due to lack of evidence against him — was murdered by Golsteyn, who said in his CIA interview that he shot him and then buried the remains in a shallow grave. Later that night, Golsteyn and two other soldiers returned and dug up the remains so they could be burned, The Washington Post reported.

Golsteyn argues that he conducted a legal ambush of the man, who he said was walking toward Taliban positions.

It's not clear what other evidence the Army has against Golsteyn. A CIA polygraph test is inadmissible in court, and other service members who were potential witnesses had previously refused to testify even after being offered immunity, the Post reported.

Golsteyn's civilian attorney, Philip Stackhouse, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose. But in a statement Golsteyn gave to Task & Purpose in November, he said, "This vindictive abuse of power must know no limit. My hope is that Army leadership will stop this vindictive plan and effect the retirement that is pending."

Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

The admiral in charge of Navy special operators will decide whether to revoke the tridents for Eddie Gallagher and other SEALs involved in the Navy's failed attempt to prosecute Gallagher for murder, a defense official said Tuesday.

The New York Times' David Philipps first reported on Tuesday that the Navy could revoke the SEAL tridents for Gallagher as well as his former platoon commander Lt. Jacob Portier and two other SEALs: Lt. Cmdr. Robert Breisch and Lt. Thomas MacNeil.

The four SEALs will soon receive a letter that they have to appear before a board that will consider whether their tridents should be revoked, a defense official told Task & Purpose on condition of anonymity.

Read More Show Less

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman made sure to take the time to correct a Congressman on Tuesday while testifying before Congress, requesting that he be addressed by his officer rank and not "Mr."

Read More Show Less
From left to right: Naval Special Warfare Operator First Class Eddie Gallagher, Army 1Lt. Clint Lorance, and Army Special Forces Maj. Mathew Golsteyn

On Friday, President Donald Trump intervened in the cases of three U.S. service members accused of war crimes, granting pardons to two Army soldiers accused of murder in Afghanistan and restoring the rank of a Navy SEAL found guilty of wrongdoing in Iraq.

While the statements coming out of the Pentagon regarding Trump's actions have been understandably measured, comments from former military leaders and other knowledgable veterans help paint a picture as to why the president's Friday actions are so controversial.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln sailed through the vital Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, amid simmering tensions between Iran and the United States.

Tensions in the Gulf have risen since attacks on oil tankers this summer, including off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and a major assault on energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Washington has blamed Iran, which has denied being behind the attacks on global energy infrastructure.

Read More Show Less

Iran continues to support the Taliban to counter U.S. influence in Afghanistan, a recent Defense Intelligence Agency report on Iran's military power says.

Iran's other goals in Afghanistan include combating ISIS-Khorasan and increasing its influence in any government that is formed as part of a political reconciliation of the warring sides, according to the report, which the Pentagon released on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less