MSG Hasenbein, a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret, is being charged with assaulting a roleplayer employed by F3EA during a training exercise. Master Hasenbein’s attorney has filed a Defense Motion to Dismiss his court-martial for Unlawful Command Influence (UCI) and moves that the court dismiss all charges and specifications with prejudice.
The charges against Hasenbein stem from a training exercise that took place at Fort Knox on March 22nd, 2019. MSG E and SFC B were both present during the exercise in question. Not only were they eyewitnesses to MSG Hasenbein’s conduct, but both were involved in handling the complaining roleplayer witness during the training. It is undisputed and was reported by multiple witnesses that if a roleplayer was uncomfortable with anything going on, they would use the safe word “real world,” three times. The safe word was never uttered by the roleplayer although he was asked by multiple senior NCOs if he wanted to use it.
A/1/5 operators with the roleplayers during the incident.
SFC B and MSG E wrote in their statements that the roleplayer in question was not cooperative. SFC B describes the roleplayer as breaking two different pairs of cuffs during his resistance and that he and multiple other team members asked the roleplayer if he was ok and if he wanted to say the safe word. SFC B says that the roleplayer gave him a definitive negative response. SFC B states that the roleplayer then broke free of his cuffs again; he then tackled the roleplayer. At that point, SFC B states that he could see that the roleplayer was hurt and asked him again if he wanted to say, “real world.” SFC B indicates that the roleplayer was using all of his might to resist the team.
MSG E wrote in his statement that the roleplayer was non-compliant and that he had to struggle with him to get him restrained. He also writes that he witnessed MSG Hasenbein strike the roleplayer one time to help control him. MSG E writes that he asked the roleplayer if this was “real-world, real-world, real-world.” He states that the roleplayer did not respond, so he continued to restrain the roleplayer while asking questions.
On September 9th, 2019, Major General Brian Winski issued General Officer Letters of Reprimand to MSG E and SFC B. The letters of reprimands listed “failing to intervene in the assault of a role-player…” Furthermore, both letters stated the following:
“[y]ou also misrepresented your actions and the role-player’s use of the safe-word and plea for help in a sworn statement to an investigating officer, CPT K, on April 12th, 2019. You stated the role-player never used the safe word, even though you knew that to be false, and failed to state the role-player expressed distressed during the assault.”
On September 26th, 2019, LTC John Haake, MSG Hasenbein’s Battalion Commander, went to the military police station. LTC Haake requested “…due diligence to be paid to the potential for an incident to occur.” LTC Haake’s statement to the MPs resulted in a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) being put out and MSG Hasenbein being stopped and searched at the gate of Fort Campbell multiple times. This was an illegal crime committed by the LTC John Haake and it was pointed out to him by the Judge.
MSG Hasenbein used as the poster operator for an Iraqi Special Operation Forces (ISOF) recruitment initiative.
After being issued GOMARs, both MSG E and SFC B elected to submit a response. Only after being issued threats of GOMARS and watching the video numerous times did their story change. “Looking back,” MSG E said, “I wish that I would have called an O/C over to get the roleplayer out of the scenario or removed my counterpart from the scenario.” Keep in mind that the video perspective was different than his own at the time. This changes his story altogether as he pleas to save his career. MSG E’s story resembles SFC B’s.
Colonel Wortham, 5th Group Commander, expounded on the idea that there was a bad mark on the company following the incident. He explained that there is now a significant issue with trusting the members of A/1/5. He stated that the trust that the team could execute its missions in a deployed environment had been damaged since it could not perform responsibility in a training environment and adhere to training safety standards.
On December 9th, 2019, Major General Winski granted testimonial immunity to MSG E and SFC B and ordered them to testify and “…provide truthful and complete information to law enforcement officials and counsel during the investigation of MSG John Hasenbein; and to provide truthful and complete testimony before any administrative board, investigative hearing, or court-martial convened to process or prosecute MSG John Hasenbein.” Furthermore, that grant of testimonial immunity states that “…[t]he immunity does not apply to a prosecution for perjury, false swearing, or making a false official statement regarding any testimony or statement made pursuant to this order, or prosecution for failure to comply with this order.” As of the date of this motion, the filing decision on MSG E’s and SFC B’s GOMOR has not been made.
The old version of Article 37 states that no military members may “influence the action of a court-martial…or any action of any convening, reviewing or approving authority with respect to his judicial acts.” Unlawful Command Influence is the “mortal enemy of military justice.” Now with the threat of GOMARs, SFC B and MSG E must testify in court the Generals’ version of the truth, not what they saw and believed at the time of the incident.
What makes the issuing of GOMORs even more egregious is that the roleplayer did not use the safe word. Not once did he say “real world.” He did say “that is too much brother,” or words to that effect, several times. However, MG Winski reprimanded both MSG E and SFC B for misrepresenting the roleplayer’s use of the safe word. As stated above, MG Winski’s GOMOR established that he believed that the roleplayer said “real world” to the extent that he was willing to reprimand anyone who claimed otherwise. A detailed review of the video contradicts MG Winski’s reprimand. This is confirmed by MSG E and SFC B, who have both reviewed the video multiple times and are adamant that the roleplayer did not say “real world.” At best, MG Winski was grossly negligent by not carefully reviewing the video evidence before reprimanding two witnesses for a pending court-martial; at worst, this was an intentional act to influence the testimony of two key defense witnesses.
MSG E’s and SFC B’s testimony has been directly and unlawfully influenced by the investigating officer, MG Winski, COL Wortham, and CSM Golden for the reasons stated above. MSG E and SFC B went from expressing complete innocence of themselves and MSG Hasenbein to expressing that they were guilty of not intervening in MSG Hasenbein’s assault on a civilian roleplayer. Importantly, they didn’t come to their conclusions by themselves. They were shown a video by the command’s investigating officer of things they did not see. They were issued a letter of reprimand by the Commanding General telling them what happened and what the truth was. They were made to repent to their Group Commander and Sergeant Major about their actions before the Command team would make a career-altering recommendation. They were and are ordered to testify and tell the truth as determined by the Command, which puts them in an impossible situation. And, finally, the Commanding General is holding a filing decision over their heads.
MSG Hasenbein’s attorney has filed motions against LTC Haake’s illegal actions. They have respectfully requested that the Court grant relief of six months of confinement credit based on the unlawful pretrial punishment MSG Hasenbein was subjected to.
LTC Haake also misrepresented his history with MSG Hasenbein. He claims to have worked with him from 2007-2010 as a reason for being scared of him; however, he only worked with MSG Hasenbein for approximately a year. This makes his other statements even more questionable.
MSG Hasenbein is also requesting confinement credit because of the somewhat public treatment he has received from SGM Hanks, including saying “fuck you, you can stand there,” “take this shit out of the company,” or words to that effect, in front of other people and soldiers, and removing pictures of him from around the company area. Finally, MSG Hasenbein is requesting confinement credit for the general treatment he has endured. He has been locked out of his company, ostracized from his support group, and been left to fend for himself since the charges were preferred.
His Command is treating him as if he is already convicted and no longer cares about him and his family’s well-being. And let’s not forget that SGM Hanks lied under oath to the judge about why Hasenbeim’s pictures were taken down. When he was questioned further by the judge, he caught in his lie and had nothing to say in return.
A rally has been scheduled for February 27 at 1030 CST outside of gate 4, Fort Campbell, KY to support MSG Hasenbein.
The jury trial is set for March 2, 2020, and expected to last six to ten days.