U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was charged on March 23rd with 17 counts of premeditated murder for the March 11 massacre of Afghan civilians, mostly women and kids, in a village in the volatile Pangwei district. On March 26th, it came out that Bales could have been under the influence of an anti-malaria drug known to cause psychotic episodes that have provoked homicides and suicides. I am relieved by this report because it makes sense of an inconceivable utterly senseless act. Bales’s reprehensible killing spree taints all NATO troops, has damaged our already shaky relationship with the Afghan government and will endanger the lives of soldiers in the field. The massacre contravened a time-honoured code that demands that soldiers only wage war on other soldiers. Bales faces the death penalty but probably will spend the rest of his life in jail. The last military execution was in 1961. Bales had served three tours in Iraq, where he suffered a traumatic brain injury and had part of a foot blown off. He was a family man and reportedly didn’t want a fourth tour. I’m sure Bales was suffering from PTSD, which can be delayed by up to 12 months. In my case, the episodes came on around Christmas 2007, nine months after the axe fell. Bales spent the better part of three years in action. I was only in-country for 50 days. My PTSD occurred in the comfort and security of my own home. Bales went off the rails in a tense, volatile combat zone. I of course don’t condone this heinous act but am trying to present the incident from a soldier’s perspective. This soldier must be held accountable for his actions and held up as a dishonourable example to others.