Witness | US v Pfc. Manning, Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

UPDATE POST COURT-MARTIAL

United States v. Pfc.Manning was conducted in de facto secrecy. The public was not granted contemporaneous access to court filings or rulings during her trial. In addition to reporting on her trial, I transcribed the proceedings, reconstructed the censored appellate list, and un-redacted any publicly available documentation, in order to foster public comprehension of her unprecedented trial.

As a result of a lawsuit against the military judge and the Military District of Washington brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights, as well as my own FOIA requests and research, an official court record for US v. Pfc. Manning was released seven months after her trial. That record is not complete.

The official trial docket is published HERE and the entire collection of documents is text searchable at usvmanning.org.

*During the pretrial proceedings, court-martial and sentencing of Pfc. Manning, Chelsea requested to be identified as Bradley and addressed using the male pronoun. In a letter embargoed for August 22, 2013 Chelsea proclaimed that she is female and wished to be addressed from that moment forward as Chelsea E. Manning.

Lt. Col. Brian Kerns was the Executive Officer (XO) for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the second most senior commanding officer in Pfc. Manning's chain of command within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division provided a sworn statement for the Secretary of the Army's 15-6 investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosures.

The Government objected to the defense request for the testimony of Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at the December 2011 Article 32 Pretrial Hearing, stating his testimony was "not relevant to the Article 32 investigation and will only serve to distract from the relevant issues."

While there is no official public record of Almanza's denial of this witness' testimony, Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division did not appear during any open session of the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing. The public record shows that at least fourteen witnesses were granted to defense for the Article 32 Pretrial Hearing.

In Lt. Col. Almanza's ruling on the Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses, 12 witnesses were granted to the defense, 10 of whom were also requested by the Government. Defense said in open Court on December 16, 2011, that Lt. Col. Almanza granted two additional witnesses to defense that morning.

The defense's account of Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division sworn statement is contained in Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses.

No. 14 on the December 2, 2011 Defense Request for Article 32 Witnesses

XXXXXXXXXX [Lt. Col. Brian Kerns, Executive Officer (XO), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division] He will testify that he was XXXXXXXXXX [Maj. Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] direct supervisor. He believed that XXXXXXXXXX [Maj. Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] could not provide XXXXXXXXXX [ WHO IS THIS?] with accurate or timely estimates or intelligence, and could not talk to XXXXXXXXXX [Col. David M. Miller, Commander of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade] in a way that served the Commander's [WHAT IS THIS?] needs. The brigade commander [Col. David M. Miller, commander of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade] finally lost confidence in XXXXXXXXXX [Major Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] and made the decision after approximately 6 months to move him. He will testify that the unit did not conduct a formal relief for cause, but moved him to a transition team. According to XXXXXXXXXX [Lt. Col. Brian Kerns], XXXXXXXXXX [Major Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] performance was weak, but not so weak as to warrant a relief for cause. XXXXXXXXXX [Lt. Col. Brian Kerns] did not believe XXXXXXXXXX [Major Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] was not a strong leader. He tried to decentralize operations but didn't have enough oversight to control. He empowered junior members who were too inexperience to do the job and did not step in to correct when they made mistakes. He will testify that XXXXXXXXXX [Maj. Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] was was unable to mentor or develop younger officers and didn't have much direct control over the shop. He will also testify that XXXXXXXXXX [Maj. Cliff Clausen, Brigade S2] was handicapped by weak NCO [Non-commissioned Officer] leadership in his shop. Specifically, his NCOIC [Non-commissioned Officer in Charge], then XXXXXXXXXX [Master Sergeant Paul David Adkins (now Sergeant First Class due to administrative action)] was not an effective leader. In his opinion, both XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] and XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] were weak leaders. He will testify that he was unaware of any leadership guidance provided in the S2 sections regarding enlisted personnel management. He will testify that it did not surprise him that XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] put out information that Warrant Officers and Noncommissioned Officers were to defer all management responsibilities to XXXXXXXXXX [Master Sergeant Paul David Adkins (now Sergeant First Class due to administrative action)]. He will testify that perhaps the command was too generous with XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] and that removing him from his position earlier would have been advantageous. He will testify that he believes PFC Manning's mental and emotional issues were more than enough to put others at risk and should have resulted in an immediate DEROG. He will testify that he did not know anything about PFC Manning's conduct until a recommendation for separation was made by the chain of command. He will testify that none of the mental or emotional health concerns, prior to May of 2010, made it to his level. XXXXXXXXXX [Lt. Col. Brian Kerns] will testify that the failure to properly DEROG PFC Manning's was the unit's biggest failure. He believes that the unit should have pulled PFC Manning's access to classified information much earlier. He will testify that the unit should have recognized him as needing help and that his condition made him unfit for service as an intelligence analyst. He will also testify that the assistant S6 for the brigade, XXXXXXXXXX [CPT Thomas Cherepko] came to him with concerns about unauthorized personal media on SIPRnet machines. According to XXXXXXXXXX [CPT Thomas Cherepko], personnel were putting unauthorized media on computers such as programs, games, videos, and music. XXXXXXXXXX [Lt. Col. Brian Kerns] will testify that it was fairly common when the unit arrived to see games, music and movies on the SIPRNet He believed that it was fairly common across Iraq. He will testify that he tried to get the staff to do the right thing, but media on the SIPRNet continued to be the standard. He will testify that at no point was UCMJ punishment applied to those who were placing unauthorized information on SIPRNet He will acknowledge that with respect to the media on the SIPRNet, he believed that the Army had become too comfortable working on SIPRNet while deployed. It is his opinion that this may have bred some complacency because of the ease of access. He believes that most Soldiers did not realize that that placing music and other media on SIPRNet computers was wrong because of how prevalent those items were across Iraq. He will also testify that after PFC Manning was arrest, XXXXXXXXXX [WHO IS THIS?] ordered him to take a complete look at INFOSEC across the brigade. He formed a working group consisting of the SGM [UNIDENTIFIED SERGEANT MAJOR], S2 [Captain Steven Lim, then Assistant S2 and Military Intelligence Company Commander], S6 [UNIDENTIFIED S6] and IO [Information Operations] [UNIDENTIFIED INFORMATION OPERATIONS] personnel to look at how the brigade was operating. Based upon this review, the S6 [UNIDENTIFIED S6] removed universal ability to write to disks; there was additional compartmentalizing of information within the BCT based on a need to know; the S6 [UNIDENTIFIED S6] instructed staff on how to lock out directories and the brigade established an SOP on the implementation for reviewing infractions for potential DEROG actions.

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Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien researches and writes about national security. Her work has been published in VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50..