Colorado

Dec 5, 2010 10:35 PM by Jeannette Hynes

The Army's duty to soldiers

Army Private First Class David Lawrence is in a Colorado mental health facility, waiting to see if he'll face a court martial for the shooting death of a Taliban commander. Lawrence was on guard duty in Afghanistan when the man was killed. Lawrence's Article 32 hearing (the military equivalent of a civilian preliminary hearing) wrapped up last week.

Retired Army Lieutenant General Edward Anderson says this case is an isolated incident, but one the Army wants to make sure doesn't repeat.

"The Army will do its own investigation to determine if there are new problems that are somehow, that they may have missed or just seen the beginning of. That's possible," explains Anderson.

Anderson retired from the Army, after 39 years of service. Most recently, he was the deputy commander at U.S. Northern Command and vice commander of U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson AFB. He also served at the Pentagon.

Anderson says he's worried about how the Taliban will use this death against American soldiers in Afghanistan.

"When incidents like this happen, I get concerned about the impact on the young men and women. But they are resilient. They've demonstrated that," says Anderson.
The Army has come under scrutiny for the number of suicides and other mental health issues of soldiers returning from combat.

Lawrence's lawyer says the 20-year-old is taking medication for schizophrenia and isn't mentally fit to stand trial for murder.

"I can assure you. I've talked to the leadership of the Army about taking care of our soldiers over there and back here when they get back. Is that they want to know what they've got to do to make sure these kinds of things don't happen again," says Anderson.

An officer will decide if Lawrence will face a court martial. That decision is expected in a few weeks.

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