Tiger Force

From Academic Kids

For the proposed World War II British Commonwealth air force, see Tiger Force (air).

Tiger Force was a commando unit of the United States Army, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), which fought in Vietnam, from May to November of 1967; as part of the Vietnam War. The unit, consisting of 45 paratroopers, has since been accused of committing various warcrimes, including indiscriminate attack, mutilation, and torture. Some reports by former members of this unit state that the soldiers wore necklaces composed of human ears.

In 2002 the Toledo Blade newspaper received a tip about unreleased Army records of an investigation into warcrimes during the Vietnam war. The newspaper spent eight months investigating the story and in October 2003 ran a series of feature articles on atrocities committed by the Tiger Force unit. The Blade reported that the Army investigated the actions of Tiger Force for four and a half years, from 1971 to 1975, and that the Army substantiated many of the allegations of warcrimes, but filed no charges. The Army's investigation was shelved during Donald Rumsfeld's first month as U.S. Secretary of Defense. The records of the investigation have been kept secret. According to the Army, this is for reasons of privacy.

Since the Toledo Blade story, the Army has re-opened the investigation, but has not been forthcoming with any additional information. The most recent status update was received by The Toledo Blade reporters on May 11, 2004, when Lt. Col. Pamela Hart stated she had been too busy responding to prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers in Iraq to check on the status of the Tiger Force case.

2004 Presidential primary contender, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) said he is waiting for findings from the latest Army Tiger Force probe, under which:

  • Col. William Condron, chief of criminal law for the judge advocate general's office, would determine how the original case was dropped and who ordered it dropped. Allegations were still secret, and prosecution risked publicity.
  • Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, the Army's top law-enforcement officer, would decide whether to recommend prosecutions of anyone in the case, including any of the 18 former soldiers who originally have been found by Army investigators to have committed crimes. There is no statute of limitations on murder, and retired soldiers still could be prosecuted under a little known and rarely used legal stipulation.

Reporters Michael D. Sallah, Mitch Weiss and Joe Mahr received the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2004 for their story. They also took First Place in the "Best Special Section" category of the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Awards.

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