- Army Maj. Larry Bauguess was killed by gunfire in Pakistan in 2007
- He had attended a meeting called to defuse tensions
- A Pentagon report exonerates the Pakistani government in the shooting
- The report blames Bauguess' death on a gunman possibly acting alone
Four years after a deadly gunfight inside Pakistan cost the life of a U.S. Army major, the Pentagon finally released its summary Monday of what happened.
The 2007 shooting, in the aftermath of a meeting called to defuse tensions, and questions of possible Pakistani military involvement, have become a recurring challenge to the troubled U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
Now, officially, the United States is exonerating the Pakistani government in the killing of Maj. Larry Bauguess, finding that he was the victim of a gunman possibly acting alone.
"This appears to have been a premeditated event on the part of the initial shooter," according to a summary and excerpts of the official classified report. "There is little evidence to support collaboration with the Pakistani militia or military."
But the report says that some coalition forces saw Pakistani personnel firing in their direction, in the immediate chaotic aftermath of the first shots.
The two-page summary handed out at the Pentagon gives a brief description of events on May 9, 2007 when Bauguess and other U.S. officers, as well as Afghanistan officials, traveled into Pakistan.
Ironically, the meeting was called to discuss skirmishes along the border and how to de-escalate tensions and prevent violence across the border. There had been no "hostile intent or suspicious activity before, during or immediately following" the "cordial" meeting, according to the report.
As the Americans and other coalition forces left the meeting and ended picture-taking and informal discussions, they loaded up on vehicles for the ride to the helicopter landing zone.
Then came gunfire.
"Within seconds, the shooter, approximately 8-10 feet from the truck, began firing his (AK-47) into the coalition personnel in the bed of the pick-up truck," the investigation summary says. "The automatic gunfire lasted approximately 3-5 seconds."
One coalition force member left the truck and began laying down suppressive fire toward the shooter, according to the report. "(Some of the coalition forces) reported seeing other Pakistani military personnel shooting at them from the building."
"I find that Maj. Larry Bauguess was killed by an individual wearing a Kurram Militia uniform when he was shot at close range with a vollety of AK-47 automatic weapons fire," the report's author says.
The Kurram militia is a unit in the Frontier Corps responsible for security in the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Pakistan. The milita reports to the Pakistan army.
Bauguess was killed, and two other U.S. personnel and a translator were wounded.
"The initial shooter caused all of the casualties incurred on the coalition forces," the report added. Sporadic fire between coalition and Pakistani personnel lasted 10 minutes and took the lives of at least one Pakistani soldier, presumably the shooter, wearing a local militia uniform, as well as "probably an additional six personnel dressed in Kurram and white traditional Pakistan/Afghan dishdasha dress."
The whole episode attracted new attention in September with a front-page story in the New York Times. That came at the same time as comments by the then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, that the Haqqani network, which claims support for high-profile attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, was "a veritable arm" of the Pakistan intelligence service, the ISI.
Bauguess' friends and family in and around Wilkesboro, North Carolina, work hard to keep his memory alive. The 36-year-old was an avid high school baseball player and the Major Larry J. Bauguess, Jr. Memorial fund, keeps up the baseball field named his honor, sponsors tournaments and provides annual scholarships.
"The world is worse off because he is gone," a classmate and friend, Mandy Brame Marxen recalled Monday. She said that on an off the baseball field Bauguess was always supportive. "He was the epitome of a team player," she said.
She doesn't directly criticize Pakistan for Bauguess' death but says that she and his friends were not surprised when al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was found inside Pakistan and killed by U.S. SEALs in May.
Bauguess' brother, Terry Bauguess, also is a member of the memorial committee. He said he had nothing to say about the Pentagon report or what happened along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2007. "If you want to do a story about a how good a person he was, and how good a brother he was, I would be happy to talk," Bauguess said.