LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The US military has launched an investigation after Colorado-based soldiers who had returned from Iraq were linked to five killings in 14 months, a statement said Monday.
A statement by Major General Mark Graham, the commander at Fort Carson in the western state, said a task force had been set up to examine if there were any "commonalities" in several murders allegedly committed by members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team.
"We have many great young Americans in our Army who have volunteered to serve during a time of war, almost all of whom are great citizens," Graham said.
"However, we too are very concerned about these horrible acts.
"Therefore, I have established a comprehensive task force to identify any commonalities between previous homicides by our soldiers or former soldiers."
The task force would be comprised of legal, law enforcement and medical experts, Graham said.
The decision to set up the task force followed a letter from Colorado Senator Ken Salazar to Army Secretary Pete Geren last week requesting an investigation into the deaths.
The letter came after news of the latest killing last Monday, when a 21-year-old soldier reportedly led investigators to the body of a 19-year-old girl who was raped and murdered west of Colorado Springs.
Salazar said the cases "raised a number of troubling questions that merit serious scrutiny and attention."
The senator requested an investigation into whether any of the soldiers involved in the killings had been "flagged for mental health concerns and what steps the Army had taken in response."
According to a study released in April by the RAND Corporation, about 300,000 of the 1.6 million US troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.
In May, the Pentagon issued data showing diagnoses of PTSD among troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan had climbed from 9,549 in 2006 to 13,951 in 2007.
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