The Kill Team was recently added to Netflix and despite being an older movie, having released in 2019, the film is quickly gaining traction on the streaming service. Within just days of being added to the site, The Kill Team has entered Netflix’s Top 10 and climbed to the fourth spot overall.
Those who have watched the movie, or are considering watching it, might be interested to learn about the true events that inspired the film. The Kill Team‘s writer and director Dan Krauss, previously directed the 2013 documentary of the same name. The movie is meant to be a fictionalized retelling of the events covered in the documentary, namely, the Maywand District murders.
The chilling true story behind The Kill Team
In 2010, CNN reported that 12 American U.S. Army soldiers were caught up in a conspiracy and cover-up related to the murders of three Afghan civilians that all took place in the Maywand District of Afghanistan during the war, though only five were accused of the three killings. The other seven soldiers were believed to be involved in the overall conspiracy and cover-up.
A myriad of charges were filed against the soldiers, included mutilating corpses, keeping souvenirs, taking photos that have since circulated online, widespread use of hashish, failing to account for and dispose of weapons, and more. See the CNN link for specifics on which soldiers were charged with specific crimes.
Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, 26, was the leader of the platoon who allegedly orchestrated these thrill kills and was eventually charged and sentenced to life in prison. He is currently serving time at Fort Leavenworth.
Gibbs was also accused of keeping trophies from his victims, including finger and leg bones. While he has denied murdering the civilians (claiming their deaths were justified) he did admit to keeping “trophies,” comparing it to how hunters keep the antlers of the deer they kill, ABC News reported at the time.
Army specialist Jeremy Morlock was the first of the group to go on trial, saying that Gibbs would keep grenades to throw at the bodies and stage fake combat situations to make the deaths appear like they were in self-defense rather than premeditated murder.
“He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy,” Morlock revealed to investigators on the case.
Adam Winfield’s part as the whistleblower
The Kill Team movie features a young army recruit named Andrew Briggman, played by Paper Towns actor Nat Wolff, who is shown to be hesitant of following his sergeant’s (Alexander Skarsgård) orders, to the point he contacts his father and asks him to get in touch with the Criminal Investigation Division to investigate Deeks.
Briggman appears to be a fictionalized version of the infantryman Adam Winfield, who similarly warned his parents about what was happening in Afghanistan.
Winfield was reportedly involved in the murder of the third and final civilian, and subsequently sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to reduced charges, per ABC News. He ultimately agreed to a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Staff Sergeant Gibbs.
During his hearing, Winfield said he “failed to stop Gibbs” and Morlock from killing a detained Afghan civilian.
"“It is my duty as an American soldier … to protect any detainee … that is in the custody of U.S. personnel,” Winfield said. “It was my job to do that, sir, and I failed to do it.”"
Where to watch The Kill Team documentary from Dan Krauss
The bulk of Krauss’ documentary is told from Winfield’s perspective, as Winfield and his parents actually participated in the film. The Kill Team primarily focuses on Wolff’s character Andrew Briggman.
To learn more about the Maywand District murders, you’ll want to watch Krauss’ 2013 documentary. It’s not currently available to stream on Netflix, but you can find it on Tubi and Peacock. The documentary follows two parallel stories, both Winfield’s time in Afghanistan and the case’s legal proceedings.