Army SFC charged in relation to Syrian firefight

| April 30, 2021

SFC Robert Nicoson

We talked about the battle when it happened back in August. Army authorities have done an investigation and have now charged the SNCO platoon sergeant with two counts of failure to obey a lawful order, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of communicating threats and three counts of obstructing justice.

According to his civilian defense attorney, Sergeant First Class Robert Nicoson of the 82nd Airborne Division was on patrol with his platoon commander (read officer, usually a lieutenant) present. That officer is apparently not facing charges.

Nicoson’s not being accused of any misconduct once the shots started flying.

Army Times reports;

A rare gunfight between U.S. paratroopers and pro-Syrian regime forces last summer has led to charges against a senior enlisted soldier assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The clash occurred near Tal al-Zahab, in the Syria’s northeast, where a tenuous U.S. military presence has guarded lucrative oil fields and chased lingering Islamic State fighters. Altercations with local militias and Russian forces last year highlighted the unpredictable nature of the mission there, and at least one incident followed soldiers home.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Nicoson, of Blackhorse Troop, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, was charged in early April with two counts of failure to obey a lawful order, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of communicating threats and three counts of obstructing justice.

The charges stem from a roughly 10-minute gunfight that erupted at a pro-Syrian regime checkpoint Aug. 17, 2020. The exchange reportedly killed one Syrian fighter and wounded two others. There were no U.S. casualties. A portion of the gunfight was caught on video, though it does not show how it began.

After “receiving safe passage from pro-regime forces,” the Americans “came under small arms fire from individuals in the vicinity of the checkpoint” and returned fire in self-defense, Operation Inherent Resolve officials said in a statement at the time.

Half-a-year later, OIR spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto declined to comment on an investigation into the incident. The U.S.-led coalition “cannot comment on any allegations that are under investigation or the subject of current or pending court-martial charges,” he told Army Times.

The charges against Nicoson allege that he put soldiers into a situation they shouldn’t have been in and made threats against the pro-Syrian regime forces at the checkpoint before the gunfight started, according to Nicoson’s civilian defense attorney, Phillip Stackhouse.

“Soldiers were told to stay two kilometers away from particular Syrian forces, but the missions that [Nicoson] was a part of, presumably took them within two kilometers of those same Syrian forces,” Stackhouse said.

There was also a platoon commander leading the patrol, Stackhouse added, but that soldier only received a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand following the incident.

“His platoon commander was there. In fact his platoon commander was in one of the more lead vehicles and [Nicoson’s] vehicle was the trail vehicle,” Stackhouse said. “The platoon commander is not charged, so why are they charging Nicoson?”

A spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, Lt. Col. Mike Burns, confirmed that only Nicoson is facing charges but declined to comment on the platoon leader’s situation. Burns also declined to provide charge sheets and added that the allegations are not limited to one incident.

But the checkpoint gunfight is at the “crux of the allegations,” said Stackhouse.

More at the source. Thanks to Jeff LPH 3 for bringing this one to our attention.

Category: "The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves", Army, Syria

Comments (20)

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  1. President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight says:

    “…. but that soldier (officer) only received a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand….”

    Might as well have been charged. His career is toast.

    • Devtun says:

      Yeah, no reason to issue an Article 15. A soldier can decline it, and demand trial by court martial.
      GOMORs are way less messy, and will crush flat a soldier’s career just the same – with no option to reject or appeal. Some articles have been written that GOMORs are far to powerful & short circuits a soldiers due process.

    • rgr769 says:

      I ducked a potential Article 15 and/or a Letter of Reprimand twice as a 1LT. The first time, I took a Jeep to the range for which I was OIC, without the required dispatch because the Motor Officer was MIA and not available to sign it. Our moronic Brigade C.O., Crazy Frank Plumber, had announced that any officer caught riding in a vehicle not properly dispatched would get an Art. 15. My driver rolled our jeep enroute to the range, but I was able to get back to the messhall, find the Motor Officer, and get a dispatch. I made it back to the inverted jeep as the MP’s were questioning my driver; I showed them the dispatch sheet and said I forgot to put it in the vehicle’s log book.

      The second time, I rolled my Jag XKE outside Vielseck, Germany one night after some serious drinking at a local watering hole. I ended up in the Grafenwoehr dispensary for repair of my lacerated scalp. When the MP’s investigating the accident showed up, the Battalion Surgeon who stitched me up told them he was sure I hadn’t been drinking, but they couldn’t talk to me because he had sedated me. Both statements were untrue, as I reeked of booze and wasn’t sedated. But he saved my ass, and he wasn’t even our Battalion Surgeon.

  2. President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight says:

    My DD214 is my woobie. I shall not want. It leadeth me to green retirement.

    I am SO glad I’m not over there in that shitshow.
    And we’re still there, expending blood and money………why?

  3. MI Ranger says:

    If the PL was in the front and they had already been given permission to pass through the checkpoint, it sounds like something happened at the checkpoint as the rear vehicle was passing through that caused the Pro-Syrian Regime forces to take shots at them and the rear vehicles to return fire…which resulted in the death of the likely cuplrit who started it.

    Could it be that the PSG Made some kind of provocative gesture that the Pro-Syrian Regime forces took offense at? Heaven forbid an enlisted Soldier take it upon himself and say or do something to a known enemy force…how could that possibly happen in todays day and age where we are regularly subjected to hours of Power Point that say “don’t be mean”.

    Yeah, feel sorry for the LT (his career is pretty much toast) and he probably tried to do the right thing once he broke contact and figured out what caused it…but his failure to properly rein in his PSG will keep him from getting past CPT or possibly even a Command.

  4. Roh-Dog says:

    It’s really hard to engage in a so-called “illegal firefight” if Troops aren’t subjected to an “illegal military action”.
    Congress has been punting on AUMF and won’t read Article 1, Section 8 because of…reasons.

    Bring them home, problem solved.

  5. Commissar says:

    Seems like we need more information, it is sketchy that he is being charged with violating a lawful order and the platoon leader is not unless it was the platoon leader’s order he disobeyed.

    The article implies it was the general order not to go within 2km of these particular sustain forces but we don’t actually know if that is the actual order he is being charged with disobeying. It seems likely it is something he did AFTER meeting the Syrian forces and before the shooting started that brought on the charges.

  6. Mustang Major says:

    Just a guess on my part, but…

    Possibly the SFC refused an Article 15 and said, “Meet me in a Courts Martial.” If the incident happened some time ago, and the Army is charging him now, that indicates the chain of command is having problems sticking this mess on the NCO.

    As for the LT (?), he might have been given the General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand to short circuit the possibility of the LT turning down an Article 15 and requesting a CourtsMartial that may have failed.

    Go figure, soldiers with weapons shooting back at people shooting at them.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this incident received attention from outside of the division. Sometimes the next promotion is more important to leaders, and they will gladly eat a shit sandwich (and ask for more) as opposed to doing the right thing.

  7. Dragoon 45 says:

    Something stinks in all of this, and I am not sure what it is. Try to send the PSG to prison while the PL gets off with a GOMOR. From experience anything can set off a Haji, so just exactly what did the PSG do, wave at him? The information given here does not in the least justify what the Army is trying to do to the PSG IMO. Maybe as more info comes out my opinion will change, but right now this stinks.

    • penguinman000 says:

      Definitely data missing from this equation.

      I refused mast once and requested courts martial. I was accuse of UA but had a chit approved by chief. I was new to the Navy and on shore duty. Didn’t know any better.

      The chief, instead of just owning up to his error in judgement, decided he was going to recommend mast. I have no idea what he was thinking other than he didn’t like me very much.

      The base JAG refused to take it to Courts Martial. The phrase I overheard was “I’m not wasting my f*&(ing time with this.”

      The command wasn’t very happy and made sure my evals reflected it.

  8. tom reynolds says:

    If they want to give the enemy a safety cushion from our troops maybe it ought to be a couple thousand miles.

  9. Slow Joe says:

    Your chain of command does not care about you. They will throw you to the wolves if you make one little mistake.

    This will do wonders for morale, and only help our enemies.

  10. borderbill says:

    What the fuck happened? Jeeezuss-did someone put this on socialistmediums? That’s what needs to be addressed. Our guys in combat situation and shooting?
    I say again – what the fuck happened?

  11. timactual says:

    Can someone remind me why we invaded Syria and what we are doing there?

  12. USMC Steve says:

    Ask Resident Biden. He is supposed to be in charge now, and we are still there. Then he can ask his puppetmaster, Homey the Klown Obama. Who put us there in the first place.