"While off base, they were mistakenly engaged by Afghan forces," the senior officer said. "The interpreter died and the SF soldier was wounded... I believe the SF soldier was administratively separated from the Army as a result of this."
One soldier who knew the joyriding Special Forces soldiers said they were suspected of being high on hashish, a highly concentrated form of marijuana, which is a cash crop in Afghanistan. But blood test results were misplaced.
"They took his beret and gave him the boot," the soldier said.
The senior officer said the investigation did not turn up evidence of drug use, but acknowledged drugs and alcohol are often prevalent at many outposts, including Special Forces camps. Bales admitted to using steroids, which he claimed altered his mood.
"Pills are huge over there because they're so cheaply made in Pakistan," said the first soldier, whose background and knowledge was verified by other soldiers.
"It was certainly not unheard of in Vietnam," added Solis, a Vietnam veteran, referring to both substance abuse as well as troops walking off their combat bases. "In Afghanistan, there were so many outposts 'away from the flagpole' out in the countryside."