By the time he deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 3 — his first combat tour in Afghanistan after three in Iraq — he had already been assured that his war deployments were over, and he was hoping to become a military recruiter. But the new assignment came up quickly without notice, and on Feb. 1 Bales was sent to support a village security operation being conducted by special forces troops.
What happened there is the subject of an Army Criminal Investigation Division inquiry that could, Army officials have said, lead to the death penalty.
News reports, quoting unnamed U.S. officials, have suggested that domestic problems, alcohol and stress were probably factors in the March 11 nighttime attack.
Browne strongly denied that Bales was having any trouble in his marriage, but said it would be understandable to be under stress in a small military outpost in the midst of war in southern Afghanistan.