Heroes and 'Idiots'
He did, later nominating every soldier in the fight, including himself, for either the Silver or Bronze Star, according to military documents.
But in the same laudatory message, the operations officer informed Waller that he had recommended his removal from command of ODA 2021 for, "among other things, the extremely unprofessional remarks" in his reports.
"This is yet another example in a long line of incidents with you that has resulted in this battalion, and more importantly, your teams looking like idiots instead of getting the recognition they rightfully deserve," the battalion officer wrote.
By this time, Champion's 20th Special Forces Group was in the process of turning over the Special Operations task force to its replacement, the 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Ft. Bragg. The new guys were regular Army all the way, and they did not much care for Waller's references to the air "snapping like Rice Crispies" or the team's "angelic bubble" of protection, the operations officer wrote.
"All they see is that we are a Guard unit operating unprofessionally in a combat zone," he wrote. "If Champion wasn't in command yesterday, you would be in a world of shit right now."
A Death in Gardez
In Gardez, the days of detention for Parre and his men continued to mount.
Parre said he believed his brother, Jamal, was subjected to the harshest interrogation because, at only 18, he was perceived to be the most vulnerable. When he first saw Jamal a few days after their capture, his brother's body was already black and blue and swollen, Parre said.
He said Jamal told him the Americans had forced him to stand with arms and legs outstretched as they took turns beating him. He was moaning about the pain in his kidneys and back, Parre said.
On the afternoon Jamal died — Parre fixes the date at March 16, 2003, though that could not be verified — he saw two men assisting his brother, who was having difficulty walking. There was no interpreter, Parre said, so he and an American soldier pantomimed their way through a discussion of Jamal's condition.
First the American jabbed a finger into his arm to show that Jamal had been given an IV drip, Parre said. Then he shook his head to suggest it hadn't worked. He pumped his fist like a heart, and again shook his head negatively. Parre said he didn't fully understand at the time, but he feared the worst. Eventually, he was escorted into a tent to see his brother.
"I thought he was smiling at me, and so I smiled back," Parre recounted. "I thought Jamal wanted to tell me that I was worrying for nothing. And I went to him and shook him and said, 'Jamalah, Jamalah,' and then I realized that he had been martyred."
Parre adjusted the body so that Jamal's head pointed to Mecca, and started to cry.
Later that night, Parre said, several Americans entered the tent, put their hands over their hearts and offered condolences. But he said the man he knew as Mike asserted that Jamal had died of an illness, not at the hands of the Americans.
"No, my brother was healthy," Parre said he responded. "His brain, his heart, his legs, he was not sick. He had no history of sickness or injury in any part of his body. He died because of your cruelty."
ODA 2021 held a team meeting shortly after Jamal's death, according to an American soldier based in Gardez. The team was advised that the Afghan had died of a sex-related infection that shut down his kidneys, the soldier said. The point of the meeting, he said, was "to make sure everybody's on the same sheet of paper — this is what happened to the man," in case there was an investigation.
Capt. Craig Mallak, medical examiner for the U.S. armed forces, said Naseer's death was never reported to his office. He said it would have been required unless the detainee was deemed to have died of natural causes. Authorities at a civilian hospital in Gardez, where Naseer's body was transferred, said they performed no autopsy.