The Air Force is investigating a web video that shows individuals who appear to be U.S. troops cheering and laughing while somebody bludgeons a sheep to death with a baseball bat.
In the graphic 30-second video, men in military uniforms drag the sheep into a room by the horns, before an unidentified individual dressed in civilian clothes starts beating it on the head with a metal bat.
Air Force spokesman Todd Spitler said investigators, after initially mistaking the men for members of the U.S. Army, have determined they were wearing Air Force uniforms and appear to be Air Force service members. The Air Force special investigations office took over the probe on Jan. 20.
"They're now in full investigation of the matter," Spitler told FoxNews.com on Thursday.
While only one individual in the video was beating the animal, the rest were hooting and taunting the sheep -- one individual could be seen jumping up and down in the background. The sheep, in the middle of the beating, tried to crawl away. But after being struck 10 times with the bat, the animal went limp.
"The actions in the Internet video are contrary to the high standards that are expected of airmen, and they run counter to Air Force core values," Spitler said.
He said the date and location of the video, the nature of the incident and the names of the individuals involved are still being determined.
Asked whether the individuals would face disciplinary action, Spitler said the Air Force will take "appropriate action" once the investigation is complete.
"The broad heading of conduct of every airman is what would likely govern what is being investigated," he said.
Animal cruelty is not a specific provision under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the code does provide punishment for "conduct unbecoming an officer" and "conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces."
PETA, which had been drawing attention to the video, announced on its website that the animal-rights group is offering $5,000 for information "leading to the identification of the men responsible for this beating." The group thanked an "anonymous supporter" for the reward money.