Failures of military standards, a poor operational planning, and a lack of supervision led to the deaths of three US soldiers south of Baghdad last June, a report on the US military's investigation into the incident has concluded.
"This was an event caused by numerous acts of complacency, and a lack of standards at the platoon level," according to the investigating officer, Lt. Col. Timothy Daugherty.
On June 16, 2006, Spc. David J. Babineau, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, and Pfc. Thomas Tucker of the 101st Airborne Division were attacked while guarding a bridge in Yusifiya--the village where intensive operations currently search for the three soldiers missing since this past Saturday. Babineau died at the scene, but Menchaca and Tucker were kidnapped, their mutilated bodies found three days later booby-trapped with an IED.
Though the military investigation issued its report and briefed surviving family of the unclassified findings in the fall, its contents were not publicly revealed until the Associated Press reported Thursday on a seven-page summary it had acquired.
The AP reports that two military officers were relieved of their command as a result of the mistakes, but neither faced criminal charges.
According to the Associated Press summary of the report's description of the attack:
"Tucker, Menchaca and Babineau were ordered to guard a mobile bridge over a canal in order to prevent insurgents from planting mines. Other members of their platoon, who were at two locations up to three-quarters of a mile away, heard small arms fire at 7:49 p.m. When they arrived at the checkpoint about 25 minutes later, Babineau was dead and the others were gone.
Daugherty said the soldiers were told to stand guard for up to 36 hours with just one Humvee, and there were no barriers on the road to slow access to them or provide early warning."
Two other notable details from the report:
* Insurgents may have rehearsed the attack two days earlier
* Iraqi security forces near the soldiers' outpost probably saw and heard the attack and "chose to not become an active participant in the attack on either side."