Arrested soldier teaches at Bragg warfare center

Stopped at Texas airport

mquillin@newsobserver.comJanuary 3, 2012 

The soldier arrested in Texas on Saturday and charged with trying to take explosives onto a commercial airplane is an instructor in the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, a base spokesman said Monday.

Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was stopped by security at the Midland International Airport on Saturday morning when a Transportation Security Administration officer detected a suspicious item in a carry-on bag that Atwater brought to a checkpoint. The checkpoint was closed for about an hour while investigators removed the item and did a sweep of the terminal.

The FBI said the item was a military explosive, but did not specify what kind. FBI spokesman Mike Martinez said Atwater is being held at the Midland County jail until he can be arraigned, possibly today.

Atwater, his wife and family had been visiting relatives in the Midland area and were returning to North Carolina when he was stopped at the airport.

Lt. Col. Tom Bryant, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, could not determine how long Atwater has been in the military or exactly what he teaches at the Kennedy school, because most of the base was still on holiday break Monday.

"It's unfortunate that this has occurred, because it reflects poorly on the unit," Bryant said. "But it's still early in the process. There is still a whole lot of information we don't know."

Meanwhile, Bryant said, "The overwhelming majority of our folks make great choices and do a great job day in and day out. But unfortunately, some of our folks get involved in stuff that doesn't reflect positively on the rest of the team. We do everything we can to make sure we abide by the law."

The Army describes the Kennedy school as one of its premier educational institutions, where training is offered for soldiers from the Army's three special operations branches: special forces, civil affairs and military information support.

Reports from Midland-area media in March 2010 said Atwater was due then to return from his second deployment to Afghanistan, and he was scheduled to deploy a third time to Afghanistan starting in July 2010.

Atwater and his family live in Hope Mills, about 15 miles south of Fort Bragg.

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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