The Fort Carson soldier who notified a spouse of her husband’s downrange death using Facebook could face dishonorable discharge, prison time and loss of wages, a JAG official told us.
Depending on what an Army investigation uncovers, the soldier would likely be prosecuted under Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which covers violations of direct and lawful general orders, the JAG official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Ariell Taylor-Brown learned that her husband, Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown, had been killed downrange when a female soldier from his platoon sent her a Facebook message saying that there was an emergency, and to please call her. When Ariell called, the soldier broke the news, Ariell told a Columbus, Ohio news station. The official notification team arrived at her door several hours later. The couple has two young children and Ariell is pregnant with their third.
The soldier who contacted Ariell is currently not deployed, and had learned of Staff Sgt. Brown’s death through a second stateside soldier, who had in turn been told by someone downrange, Fort Carson officials said. While officials would not say whether or not those soldiers will be prosecuted and will not confirm that an order was disobeyed or that OPSEC was violated, it is clear from the chain of events that something went terribly wrong.
Whether or not the soldiers will be prosecuted under Article 92 depends on the Army investigation, Fort Carson officials told us, and whether they are found to have violated a direct or indirect order, the JAG official said.
“All Soldiers downrange are instructed not to discuss any deaths until DoD officially releases the name of the Soldier (24 hours after next of kin Notification),” Master Sgt. Craig Zentkovich, a public affairs official with the 4th Infantry Division wrote in an email. “The brigade is currently investigating the incident to determine whether soldier(s) disobeyed an order and if further action will be necessary.”
But a commenter on this post, who claims to be from Staff Sgt. Brown’s unit, said that they did have a mandatory class on the notification process. If the soldier who called Ariell was in that unit, as Ariell told the news station she was, then she did know the process and was violating an order – as were the other two soldiers involved.
“I knew SSG Brown. 4/4 had a mandatory class that dealt with the notification process, and all soldiers were told not to take it in their own hands,” the commenter, who identified himself as "4/4 Soldier,” wrote. “This female in his platoon needs to be made an example of, she knew what she was doing and she … knew it was wrong.”
Staff Sgt. Brown was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.