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Canadian News Friendly Fire Report

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Advocat, Jan 18, 2003.

  1. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    "W5" is the Canadian equivilent of "60 Minutes". Last night they broadcast a 48 minute report on the four Canadian soldiers killed in the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan and the US trial of the pilots. This report is now available via Windows Media streaming webcast: Friendly Fire

    If you're interested in how Canadians are viewing this terrible event, you might be interested in seeing this. Included on the webpage are extended interviews with:
    - Wounded survivors of the bombing
    - Survivors of those killed
    - The wives of the pilots

    Lots of additional links, news stories and related information on the incident and it's ramifications is available on this

    FYI, the vast majority of Canadians believe:
    - the pilots may have made some error, but we recognize accidents do happen in wartime.
    - there were errors up the chain of command that lead to the situation, which are now being covered up.
    - that the pilots are being hung out as sacrificial lambs.
    - and, that we're just about sick at how the military, the pilots, the government and others are bringing in every dirty legal trick and smoke screen to obsfucate the main issue (as far as we're concerned), which is very simple: <i>Admit what was done wrong and make changes so this kind of error never happens again!</i>
  2. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    I have a problem understanding this mistake. As I have heard so far, the Canadians thought it would be a good idea to hold a live fire training episode in the center of a real war in the center of the real combat zone. At night.
    If you are there at that time and feel the need to train, you should not be there.
    You train FOR war, not DURING war!
    They got their asses shot up for doing a monumentally stupid thing. You pull a trigger, gun goes pop! In a war zone this will certainly get you killed.
    Who the hell stops combat, falls back and trains?
  3. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

  4. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    The more important question which comes to mind is: Is this a crime which we should be pursuing? It appears to be a case of simple rather than gross negligence (unlike a clearly indefensible action like the joyriding <a href="http://www.cnn.com/US/9806/15/marine.cable.car.hearing/">Marines and the Italian gondola</a>). Yes, the Canadians lost a lot of soldiers needlessly. But do we want our pilots (or other soldiers) to continually second guess on their own safety? Here it certainly would have helped. Elsewhere the results may have decidedly different results. In combat sometimes a split decision is destined to decide who lives or dies. Mistakes will occur. According to one <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/cid.htm">study</a> "Department of Defense examined changing the rules of engagement to see if that could fix the problem. What they found was, if you tighten the rules of engagement to the point that you reduce fratricide, the enemy begins inflicting greater casualties on you. Waiting until you're sure in combat could mean becoming a casualty yourself."

    Sadly most of the <a href="http://www.monmouth.army.mil/peoiew/pmcid/cid11.htm">American soldiers in Desert Storm</a> were lost as a result of <a href="http://www.fas.org/irp/gao/osi95010.htm">fratricide</a>.

    Even worse, 12 years later the US military has only made small headways into antifratricide measures (the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/bcis.htm">BCIS system</a> mentioned in the above <a href="http://www.monmouth.army.mil/peoiew/pmcid/cid11.htm">link</a> was never adopted for US tanks, the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/cip.htm">CIP system</a> was fielded with marginal improvement, other ideas remain in development). There have been efforts to better <a href="http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-101-1/appj.pdf">educate the troops</a>, but like all education those skills (in vehicle identification, prevention, situational awareness etc.) are highly perishable. With the second shootout in the desert about to gear up, most U.S. Army units are (technologically) no better prepared to deal with the situation than back in 1991.

    But if these two airmen go to jail what precedent will be set in the future? In tight situations (e.g. when the enemy is closing in and you absolutely need the help of the field artillery or close air support to save your ass, i.e. think the last battle in 'Platoon') will a call for protective fires go unheeded because the artillerymen/airmen are too scared to shoot for fear that could go to jail for fratricide?

    The next horrific casualties of war may be due to risk aversion rather than fratricide.
  5. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    What I find disturbing is that although the majority of Canadians accept this as an accident, the media continues to harp on the subject and refuses to let it die. Makes me wonder what the ulterior motive is behind the media's refusal to let sleeping dogs lie?
  6. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Well, we all know the answer, Biker.
  7. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    This is what makes Canadians believe that a cover-up for high-ranking officers is taking place. We quite recognize that if the pilots had been guilty of breaching regulations, they would have been hauled up in front of a courts martial, where everything would have been taken care of in camera; instead, very public <b>criminal</b> charges are laid.

    If the pilots are gulity of breaching regs, should they be punished? Well, IMO, as much as any military officer who breaks the rules and causes death; I'm sure the Standard Code of Military Justice has something to say about the above.

    But to turn the process into a public criminal trial is just creating a circus for public relations and smoke screen purposes; presenting doctored video tapes, "experts" trying to guess the pilot's state of mind at the time (criminal charges require <i>intent</i> after all), flight officers whose testimony seems to have changed since they filed their first reports... all indicate to me a massive cover up by US high-rankers.

    Canada's Dept. of Defense Inquiry has this to say:

    About the Pilots:
    "From an air operations point of view, however, the F-16 pilots involved were not aware of the Tarnak Farm nor the planned live-fire exercise. There were a number of reasons why this was the case. Lacking this critical information, it seems clear that the F-16 pilots mistakenly interpreted the live fire as a threat to their formation, and engaged upon a decision-making process that led to the declaration of self-defence and the release of a weapon on friendly troops."

    About the Command and Control structure:
    "Air operations in the modern battlespace are extraordinarily complex by any measure, and require constant coordination between line operational aircrew and their chain of command at all levels. In this particular instance, as much as the F-16 pilots bear final responsibility for the fratricide incident, there existed other systemic shortcomings in air coordination and control procedures, as well as mission planning practices by the tactical flying units, that may have prevented the accident had they been corrected. "

    I notice no blame is being attached to the "shortcomings" mentioned above.
  8. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Which goes right back to my core belief that these two individuals are being made the scape goat for political reasons. Pretty much like what was done to Oliver North all those years ago.
  9. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Oliver North was charged for misappropriating government funds which he did. He tried to claim ignorance of the law. That's nothing but BS. I held the same rank he did and you had no illusions of what you could do with government money. He was a thief and was caught. He has taken that fame and made a living and that's a crying shame. I have almost as much contempt for that man as for Hackworth.

    Back on topic. I have seen nothing that indicated any fire from the weapons on hand could reach their altitude of 10,000 feet. Richochets could be going up in the air but ricochets and streams of AA fire cannot be mistaken unless you are looking for ways to fire your guns. The pilots were also flying below the level they were required to. And then they were told not to fire and dropped the bomb within 10 seconds. I was a military officer and want to defend them. But it sounds like they were trying to induce ground fire and would not take no for an answer. We do not need cowboys flying 20 million dollar aircraft with very lethal weapons. That is not to say others did not make mistakes but these guys were told no and dropped anyway so in this case they were the link that broke. Make the other links better every day but do not excuse disobeying ground control. Now if anybody can show that ground fire was shooting into the sky and reaching their atlitude I would have second thoughts. But even then they were lower than they should have been and disobeyed the instructions given. These are not the guys I would want providing my CAS.
  10. muddly

    muddly Guest

    Is this just your impression about what the vast majority of Canadians believe, or is there an actual poll somewhere?
  11. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    Re: Re: Canadian News Friendly Fire Report

    Partly impression and research-- the major part from official reports and newspaper accounts of interviews, the vast majority of which show people have accepted the final report from the Dept. of Defense; believe the pilots should charged if negligence can be proved, but don't believe that the incident was intended; believe the DoD's report which suggests there are issues at higer ranking levels which is being ignored... with some poll to back it up.

    The only official poll conducted was an Ipsos-Reid poll (April 21, 2002). This showed:
    - 46% of those surveyed thought it was an accident with no blame attaching, while 52% thought it was a potentially culpable act.
    - 84% thought that the pilots should be charged if neglience or breach of orders could be shown.
  12. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, the only things I can say about this are the following:

    "Go Pills" being the culprit is BS;

    Engaging after being told not to by whatever command and control authority they were in contact with seems wrong. I would presume after being told not to start plinking, they would choose to kick in the burners and egress from the area...but I'm not a Mach-knocker, so I don't know for sure.

  13. Advocat

    Advocat Viral Memes a Speciality Staff Member

    I've heard audio on CNN taken from the cockpit recorders just after the bomb was dropped. One pilot basically says to the other "Boy, I hope that was the right thing to do." The other replies "Yeah, I hope so too." Both sounded worried... obviously, there was some question even in their own minds as to whether they'd done the right thing.
  14. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, there always is. It's tough to recall uncaged ordnance.

  15. muddly

    muddly Guest

    The hearing, and any courts martial to follow, seem pivotal events to me... the most serious charges ever laid in a friendly-fire incident come at a time when the U.S. is actively recruiting (whether from politeness or necessity) the cooperation and participation of allies in another conflict. There are different responses among people to possible loose cannon pilots and whatever flaws exist more generally in communication and the chain of command. I'm interested in what message the American public, as well as the military, ends up sending.

    But regardless of what facts emerge, and what precedent is set, I suspect they will be lost in what I'd call the true "fog of war" - patriotism, propoganda, anger, grief and the idealization, sometimes idolatry, of those who fight. I think the fate of the pilots will be, in the long run, nothing more than fuel to make more fog.

    I watched most of the interviews on W5. I think harryschmidt.org, and the rest of the somewhat extraordinary grassroots compaign to support the pilots, is more about targeting emotion than appealing to reason. Maybe the website is close to what I would create if I were trying to save my husband from a possible 64 years in prison. It's tastefully accented with stars and stripes, photos of a smiling Schmidt with kids, and the most flattering description of his chosen profession: "volunteer(ing) to defend his country and it's way of life." Six convenient payment methods are available for donations to "stop these injustices."

    It's meant to be the other side of the story, the real story. Heroes sacrificed by a military they expected to support them. On TV both wives stressed that what they want people to understand is only "the truth." I want the truth. Particularly about Schmidt.

    But they present their truth primarily by attacking arguments that nobody made, rather than the evidence behind the official accusations. A supporter says indignantly that the pilots did NOT go out there looking for Canadians to bomb, as if that were one of the charges against them. Schmidt's wife says, patiently, that in every war, friendly fire happens. Duh. Considering that is as undisputed as it is irrelevant, it's amazing how frequently I hear it. Like dismissing a charge of drunk driving with "there will be traffic accidents wherever there are roads and cars." Police get investigated for recklessness when they shoot a family dog. Good. But if a pilot may have acted recklessly in bombing 4 human beings, he should be untouchable?

    From the website: Both Harry Schmidt and Bill Umbach honestly and reasonably believed that they were taking ground fire from an unknown source and that they were required to suppress that fire in self-defense....They perceived the fire to be an imminent threat to their aircraft and to their lives. Harry dropped a bomb in self-defense which stopped the machine from firing but killed four Canadian soldiers and wounded eight others.

    That is where some facts get lost in a bit of fog. In the bloated document which is the Tarnak Farms report (or "pack of lies" depending on your openmindedness) the reasons why Schmidt and Umbach were charged are straightforward. Read it. It's only about 50 pages, and it's pretty damning, in my view. After reporting the activity on the ground, Schmidt embarked on a peculiar series of actions which were against procedure, broke the rules of engagement under which he flew, overrode the authority of his flight leader, and directly contradict the level of threat he claims to have felt, all prior to, and contributing to, the actual dropping of the bomb. If his supporters want to stress his experience as a pilot, that's all the more reason for him to be accountable for his actions. He deserves to be charged, and if there are facts which exonerate him, they can be presented at trial.

    It's untrue that other factors were/are ignored. There are a dozen other "findings of significance" and recommendations about what must change. Others have not been charged, because the report doesn't find them to be guilty of a crime.

    I don't think some of those who criticise the Schmidt are aware of how common surface-to-air fire reports were in Afghanistan prior to the bombing, and how they were normally handled. Schmidt's behavior was somewhat bizarre from minute one. In five minutes a routine occurrence turned into a mess, and all the pilots had to do to avoid it was do what they were trained and instructed to do. If they want to be responsible for the use of weapons in war, they need to be accountable for what happens when they disregard the procedures that are there to protect both themselves and their allies.
  16. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Well, it's really unfortunate that I can't comment in great depth, since I have no knowledge of what the ROE was at the time. And the restrictions for fire I might be familiar with are highly unlikely to be the same ones used by the Air Force.

    Still, here's another ditty from MSNBC:

    From deeper in the article, we get this slice, which may or may not be attributable to the onus attached to it, due to the inability of MSNBC to print things in proper context whenever dealing with the military:

    I'd have to agree with LTC Anderson in that there is no advantage to using cannons on ground targets, since it means the aircraft would have to reorient on-axis for the shots.

    The Canadian soldiers maintain none of their ordnance was sky-bound, which makes sense, as they were practicing anti-tank techniques. I'm unaware of a tank's profile elevation being in excess of 20 feet above ground level.

    Read the article here, but please keep in mind a lot of these quotes are doubtless being taken out of context.

  17. muddly

    muddly Guest

    Here is the Tarnak Farms Report, it contains the ROE...


    Schmidt's request to use the cannon was denied (probably somewhat curtly) not because the target was unidentified - bad enough - but because it would involve Schmidt reducing his altitude into lethal AAA range, a clear no-no. In his situation of perceiving SAFIRE, procedure was to get higher, faster, and take evasive action if necessary. Instead, he wanted to go lower and strafe the place with cannon fire. I can't figure out a reasonable explanation for his thinking there.
  18. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Neither can I, so I can only assume the proceedings will detail if he and his wingie are gonna get it through UCMJ.

    Does seem like a big break from procedure.

  19. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    Your are dead on regarding all points and issues.

    If you flying and you "see" flashes of gunfire from the ground and there is no other indication of what is happening, like tracers flying by your plane, hits on your plane, explosions, electronic warnings of radar guided incoming, the one thing you absolutely do not do is go lower to look it over. You don't fly to the guns you think might be shooting at you. Think about it!

    For a practical example that we all have seen, remember the first night over Baghdad in 1991 and the scenes from CNN of the incredible amount of anti-aircraft fire being directed skyward. They hit nothing. The reason they hit nothing was all of our aircraft were flying above the range of the guns below. Common sense even to the military illiterate.
  20. cdw

    cdw Ahhhh...the good life.

    Ok, now take it easy on me I have no military knowledge whatsoever....

    So, lets say he didn't follow the normal procedure. Let's say he became a little hot head, saw something he didn't know was friendly and decided he was gonna do something about it. Does that make it criminal?
    If no one had been hurt.... would that still be criminal or are the charges all because people were killed?
    What would have happened in the same situation if no one was hurt?

    edited: I wrote did follow procedure instead of didn't

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