IRAQ: A lieutenant colonel is charged with dereliction of duty in Haditha slayings. By Chelsea J. Carter THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN DIEGO – The highest-ranking U.S. serviceman to face court-martial related to combat since Vietnam was ordered to trial Friday for failing to investigate the killings of 24 Iraqis, including women and children, in Haditha two years ago. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani faces charges of dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order for allegedly failing to accurately report and investigate the Nov. 19, 2005 incident triggered by a roadside bomb that killed a Marine driver. Chessani was commander of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment that has been the focus of the biggest prosecution of U.S. troops in the Iraq war. One of his men, Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum, was also ordered to face a court-martial Friday on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. He is one of four Marines originally charged with murder in the killings. Chessani is the most senior U.S. serviceman since the Vietnam War to face a court-martial for actions or decisions made in combat, said Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University Law Center. He is the second colonel to be court-martialed over actions in Iraq. Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan of Fredericksburg, Va., was convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, said Tom Umberg, a retired Army colonel and former military prosecutor The decision by Lt. Gen. James Mattis to send Chessani to trial mirrored the conclusion an officer reached at his preliminary hearing. Col. Christopher Conlin blasted Chessani for failing to go to the scene of the killings immediately after they occurred, even though he knew 24 “neutrals” were dead. “To not have made every attempt to be on scene as this action developed, or to not have at least reviewed this action in detail ? is in itself negligent,” Conlin wrote. At Chessani’s preliminary hearing in June at Camp Pendleton, several witnesses testified local Iraqis had complained to Chessani in the days after the killings and that he promised to look into what had happened. But Chessani said he never ordered a formal investigation because he believed the deaths resulted from lawful combat. Chessani’s civilian defense attorney, Brian Rooney, told The Associated Press he was disappointed with the general’s recommendation. “I can tell you this decision by Gen. Mattis today is going to have a negative affect on all officers, including battalion commanders,” he said, adding it would undermine the trust between commanders and their troops. “Are they going to be able to trust the word of their junior officers, senior enlisted and junior enlisted?” If convicted on all counts, Chessani faces up to three years in prison. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!