T Nation

Brits Bombed By US Plane


#1

3 British troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

[i]KABUL, Afghanistan: A U.S. warplane mistakenly bombed British troops after they called for air support in Afghanistan, killing three soldiers and wounding two others in an accident that could re-ignite debate about America's heavy use of air power.

British officials said they were investigating the error, the first "friendly fire" incident between the two forces in Afghanistan. Similar mistakes by U.S. troops in Iraq have led to the deaths of 12 British servicemen since 1990.

The troops were patrolling northwest of Kajaki, a militant hotspot in southern Helmand province on Thursday evening when they were attacked by Taliban fighters, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

"During the intense engagement that ensued, close air support was called in from two U.S. F-15 aircraft to repel the enemy. One bomb was dropped and it is believed the explosion killed the three soldiers," it said.

The military did not name the soldiers, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. The wounded soldiers were both seriously injured.[/i]

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/24/asia/AS-GEN-Afghan-Friendly-Fire.php

Are these guys really doing their best? It seems to me that they're just trying to get out of there alive - at all cost.


#2

I wonder how much these reports make it in international news.

There was a much more famous case earlier in the Iraq conflict where the convoy holding a well respected Brit jounalist was attacked by US planes and the reporter later told the story of watching his cameraman die. They played the audio from the pilots and it was really really dodgy to say the least... I think they misread that automated 'friendlies' signal and the conversation was something along the lines of 'well... sould we? shouldn't we? Ah well.. Might as well..' and then an 'Ooops' type respnse when they realised what they had just done.

Over here that was when we first learned about the US pilots being given amphatimines for long sorties and whatnot. Does anyone know, is this practice still being enforced?

By the way, I appreciate this is just a horrendous and tragic mistake that could just have easily happened had the roles been reversed (brit pilots, US convoy) but to my mind speed+warplane=big mistake. Not apportioning blame, but there WAS a point where the US forces had killed more of us than the Afghan had and I wonder how much of it could be attributed to physical and mental fatigue, allied with this use of stimulants...

Discuss.


#3

The point I'm trying to argue here is that the way the US army is recruiting lately is pretty much making sure that such excesses happen. Let's face it, most folks who currently sign up do so solely for the money (yes, there are a few exceptions). So, their goal isn't really to have a military career or anything of the sort, but to do their share and get out alive. If it means shooting first and asking questions later, so be it. They seem to be getting away with that strategy so far.

I might be mistaken, but it seems to me that, on average, the US troops are the least experienced and the most likely to shoot at an unarmed person by mistake - just 'cause they didn't wanna take a chance.

What do you guys say? Speed or no speed, are Brits or Canadians more professional than Americans? After all, the British or Canadian army isn't waiving enormous checks in front of high school kids to get them enlisted.


#4

I'm not a military expert but I don't think newly recruited high school kids are flying F-15 Fighters.

Accidental deaths, especially friendly fires, are trajic. My condolensces to those men's friends and family.


#5

Hmm... Well my take on it is that unless I had been in that situation myself it is really hard for me to comment on it.

I recall seeing some of the footage of some of the harsher acts (abitrary executions) carried out by US soldiers and remember asking myself 'If I had spent the last day and a half being shot at and mortar bombed etc.. possibly seeing my friends and colleagues killed, how would I react when I finally got my hands on those people?'

The answer is... I really, tuly don't know. Part of me wants to think I would a consummate professional, but the reality is that is a sort of pressure almost impossible to imagine.

Early on in the Irag conflict a high-ranking British commander was asked what he thought of the US troops in relation to the British ones. His rather curt response was 'Well... There's a lot of them'.

I think there is a massively different ethos between the British and US armies. By all accounts we have a far smaller but more highly-trained army whereas the US military has overwhelming numbers and all the latest tech. Not saying one of these is right or wrong, but I think perhaps our longer experience in that region helped us in the early stages of the conflict. Of course now, we are all lumped together as a common enemy.

The US military commitments around the globe, whether we judge them right or wrong, demand a high intake of recruits to keep numbers up and so in this regard it is only natural that their training would not be as thorough as a smaller, professional career army.

I walked past some 'Socialist Worker' (left wing activist paper) salesmen today who were shouting 'troops out of Iraq' on their megaphones. When I stopped to talk to them and suggest that however much I was opposed to the war that I felt to withdraw all troops now would be an invitation to mass genocide, I was roundly booed and yet offered no alternative as to how to save Iraqi lives.

I was wondering what your take on this would be. Is there now a way to withdraw western military forces from the region without the place descending into utter chaos?


#6

I don't think recruiting practices have a damned thing to do with a situation like this.

The Brits and Canadians simply don't have the firepower or air support resources to launch that many strike missions.


#7

Lixy, you're an asshole. You know how fucking long it takes to train a fighter pilot? Or that they need a full four year degree? They don't trust mutimillion dollar machines to idiots.

Not too mention, it's a damn war. Friendly fire happens- it's happened since the earliest days of war when guys shot arrows at the wrong side. Christ. What a stupid fucking thread.


#8

I read that al-qaeda insurgents yesturday went into a village and slaughtered 17 people and kidnapped women and children. Why didn't ya start a thread about that?


#9

Did that really happen? Bloody hell... :frowning:


#10

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#11

A new benchmark for ignorance. Your motives to say such things are transparent. An excellent troll job, lixy. But I pity you, nonetheless.


#12

Indeed.


#13

Goddamn it. Guess how big of a signing bonus you get for joining the Marine Corps? ZERO DOLLARS. True, I can only speak for the Corps, but the only Marines getting fat signing bonuses are guys who are re-enlisting. Even then, do you consider fifty grand before taxes a HUGE check for four years of a man's life? And fifty is for guys in specialized fields. Hell, at the outset of the war my buddy jumped ship from the Marines to the Army and you know what his bonus was? It was a demotion. the only reason he did it was because the Corps was going to make him wait 4 months to get to Iraq.

Hold on, lemme think. What am I getting if I decide to go through with it and send in my officer package? NOTHING. I get a job. Even then I'm not guaranteed to get the job I want.

How the hell does this shit get circulated?

mike


#14

Doesn't negate the fact that the US army, not to mention the security firms, is a trigger happy bunch in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Allies have been reported to dive for cover every time they see the US entering the scene.


#15

There are a few things that don't fly in all your arguments.

The Americans were in a plane, whereas the others were on foot. The Americans have precise and deadly weaponry, whereas the best the Afghans could have had are AK-47s and a bunch of Katyushas. Feel free to correct me if I got it mixed up.

Now, were the Americans in immediate danger? No. They were in a bloody plane and could have taken some altitude to figure out if the guys below are 1) innocent civilians, 2) British troops, 3) Afghan police, 4) Talibans. They didn't, and chose to "bomb first and ask questions later".

That behavior is actually reminiscent of the whole "Saddam has WMDs and is friends with Ben Laden" suspicions. Again, instead of taking some time to filter out the bogus intelligence, Bush chose to bomb the country first.

Either way, I am not convinced that they are doing their best. Both are giving the impression of not giving a damn about innocent lives as long as it gets them to rule out any risk of danger. So far, they seem to be getting away it just fine...


#16

If a suicide bomber attacks a market filled with innocent shoppers and blows himself up, is he in immediate danger? Seems like the terrorists can target civilians on a daily basis in many countries around the world and your panties don't get rolled up in a bunch about it.


#17

How many times should we go over this? The suicide bomber's stated purpose is to kill civilians! Your army's purpose is not the same. Moreover, nobody around here is giving the suicide bombers their blessings or financing them. But there are many people who actively support the US military.

And I remind you that I had no problems with the invasion of Afghanistan. It's excessive use of force and "collateral damage" that I have trouble understanding.


#18

Have you been over there? Known someone whose been over there? Most of them don't want to be there but there is a job to be done. How would it look if we just up and left? Not helping them rebuild what we destroyed? Not only that, but I don't think you realize how many of them are glad that we got Saddam out.

I often here or read about sodiers who get thanked for what they are doing by Iraqui people. Children will wave and often talk to them. I beleive they are doing what they can to get the job done, thats all anybody wants.

While this war should be ended, Busch didn't just bomb the place, he tried negotiating. Saddam didn't want to and went into hiding? What the heck is up with that?


#19

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#20

Yep. In 1997.

My roommate happens to be there for a year now.

"They" destroyed? I'm not sure we're even talking about the same country here.

I was ecstatic. No sarcasm here.

And I often "here or read about sodiers" (sic) who rape 14 years old girls after slaughtering their families. Abu Ghraib comes to mind as well...

No way I'm gonna buy that. The whole administration had their eyes set on Iraq ever since 9/11. You're confusing ultimatums with negotiations.