WASHINGTON — A series of miscommunications, poor guidance and soldiers' decisions to take "the easy way instead of the right way" resulted in the burning of Korans and other religious books at a U.S. base in Afghanistan early this year, a military investigation released Monday concluded.
The U.S. military said six Army soldiers escaped criminal charges but received administrative punishments for their involvement in the Koran burning that roiled relations with Afghans. In a separate announcement, the Marine Corps said three Marines also received administrative punishments for their participation in a video that showed them urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents.
Discipline against a Navy sailor in the Koran burning was dismissed, and the Marine Corps said it will announce discipline against additional Marines in the urination case at a later date.
Altogether, more than 2,000 books, including about 1,200 religious texts and Korans, were targeted for disposal at the burn pit, but most were saved when an angry crowd of Afghans interceded.
U.S. military leaders widely condemned both the Koran burning and the urination video. The Koran burning triggered riots and retribution killings, including two U.S. troops who were shot by an Afghan soldier and two U.S. military advisers who were gunned down at their desks at the Interior Ministry.
The exact punishments were not disclosed Monday, and it was not clear whether the lack of criminal charges would trigger any protests in Afghanistan. Administrative punishments could include demotions, extra duty, forfeiture of pay or a letter in their file. They also could stall any future advancement and end their military careers.
Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said Karzai's office would review the decisions and wait until Tuesday to respond.