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Fort Bragg soldier admits guilt in military equipment theft

A Fort Bragg sergeant has pleaded guilty in a plot to steal $1 million in government property while deployed to Afghanistan, including sensitive military equipment.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Alan Walker, 36, of Fort Bragg pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to steal U.S. property and theft of government property, according to federal prosecutors. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Walker and another unnamed soldier conspired to ship the equipment back to North Carolina, authorities said. The stolen items included a lightweight laser designator rangefinder valued at more than $290,000, a Polaris ATV valued at $11,507, two plasma cutters valued at $10,000 and one cargo trailer valued at $8,944, according to court documents.

The rangefinder is used to locate and designate targets for laser-guided munitions and is powerful enough to burn or cause blindness, a former soldier familiar with the equipment said. The rangefinder has no use outside the military.

Such thefts put troops in danger given the potential for equipment to fall into enemy hands, said U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker.

Robert Walker and the other soldier sent the items to the U.S. while deployed to Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak and Kandahar Air Field. Walker was the noncommissioned officer in charge of a security detail, which secured the movement of workers throughout the battle space. The soldiers were assigned to the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, which deployed July 2010 to July 2011.

The case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigative Command and the FBI. "It is disappointing to see a senior noncommissioned officer abandon the Army values and betray fellow soldiers while in a position of trust," Special Agent Brandi Little of Fort Bragg CID said.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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