Army 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance, 28, of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division 4th Brigade was found guilty as a result of a military mission where Afghan civilians died. A military jury found Lorance guilty of murder in the deaths of two men. The shootings occurred more than a year ago and the court martial investigation began after the incident occurred under questionable circumstances.
Lorance’s attitude was described by his peers as being aggressive towards Afghans. Many believe his heavy handed tactics led to the deaths of the two civilians. Two men were on motorcycles in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan when Lorance ordered them shot. Lorrance believed the men were a threat and that resulted in him ordering those under his command to shoot.
Attorneys for Lorrance support the idea that Lorance was acting to protect the platoon and that the shootings were justified. During the weeks prior to July 2, 2012 the platoon had suffered multiple casualties as a result of unwarranted engagements. Many had suffered detrimental injuries and deaths before the tragic episode.
Army Intelligence information and helicopter surveillance had relayed to Lorance’s platoon an alert to be on the lookout for men on motorcycles. The area of Kandahar province in Afghanistan had been a hot zone of activity. Lorance supporters regret that the Afghan civilians died and believe the Fort Bragg Lieutenant should not have been found guilty.
“He is a hero to me, because he did what he thought was best in the heat of the moment to bring his soldiers home alive,” Anna Lorance said. “I will fight until the day I die, and every family member we have will, until he gets the justice he deserves.”
“I am bitterly disappointed,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Guy Womack, Lorance’s attorney, “Lt. Lorane is an outstanding officer who made a decision to engage a suspected enemy approaching his position and now has been declared a murderer. The members heard all the evidence and I am confident they made the decision they believe is correct, but it is a crushing blow for those of us who know Lt. Lorance.”
The court found Lorance guilty of charges of attempted murder, wrongfully communicating a threat, wrongfully and willfully discharging a firearm into a populated village and impeding the investigation into the shootings. The sentence was 20 years in a military prison and forfeiture of all pay plus dismissal from the U.S. Army.
Prosecutors said Lorance was in violation of the military’s rule of engagement and he should have held fire unless there was direct evidence of hostile intent. Many argue that during the heat of engagement the line is often blurred and judgment may become impaired. Prosecutors said Lorance ordered his men to open fire immediately.
One man that was with the motorcycle riders was able to get away from the scene upon the shootings. His buddies were not successful in surviving the engagement. Afghan officials believe the Afghan civilians died without reason and a guilty verdict found for the Fort Bragg Lieutenant by the court is in order.
By Thomas Barr