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Friendly Fire Incident

I am not to sure how much coverage this is getting in the U.S, but I'm guessing most people have seen/heard of the recently uncovered "friendly fire video".

Essentially, The Sun newspaper have uncovered a top secret video from the U.S. It is a video from the cockpit of a US A-10 who attacks a British convoy in Iraq, killing a British soldier.

Why did the U.S government keep this top secret? And why did the pilot fire on the convoy in the first place? And what is everyone else's opinion on this? Do you feel the pilot should be blamed or forgiven for this?

Read more about the story here.
I don't think the pilot should be blamed.

Apparently he wasn'y fully briefed (or trained) in all aspects of recognition.
When you consider the Americans have quite a bad record killing their own with "freindly fire", it was inevertable in joint op's that this would happen.
The pilot should not be blamed, blue-on-blue incidents do happen in war...they always have. What gets me is the reason why it happened; The pilot was unsure of his location and gave a reference that was a 'guess'. The spotter plane confirmed that there was nothing in that zone, before he even took the time to ensure the pilot was where he said it was. The pilot (Travelling at quite a speed I don't doubt) misidentified the orange markers on the convoy (Identifying them as friendlies) as rockets.

The statistics of the war are harrowing, due to the lack of training American military get on identifying allies. Blue-on-blue has occurred on the British side too....but these instances are few and far between, which leaves me to believe it is the training that is in error.

British military personnel have to undertake an annual 'identification' test, to prove they know what vehicles and camo others are using around the world. This should be the norm in American training too. We lost more British soldiers to friendly fire from Americans within the first couple of weeks of hostilities than we did when we stormed Bhasra...the figures speak for themselves.
probably due to lack of proper training and protocol as one commentator said. The pilots are probably used to opening fire on anything that moves once they're in grid position that may/may not have enemy fighters
Accidents happen.
The story we are getting in America is that the pilot recognized the British convoy was using the "friendly" colors, so asked for confirmation and was told several times that there were no friendly units in the area. It is the command center that failed and caused the death of an allied servicemember. Why was the center unaware of the friendly convoy?
jmwarshay wrote:
Why was the center unaware of the friendly convoy?

From what I understand, there was confusion as to where the offending aircraft actually was. There is also the inherent problem of miscommunication between two different branches of military, in addition to two different militaries.

Additionally, blaming the pilot or his training is ignorant. This is just an example of broken down communication and getting lost in a featureless landscape.

The aircraft was an A-10. This aircraft was developed in preparation for a Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe. Designed for a target rich environment, to fly slow and close to the ground it has served mostly as a close air support weapon; ideal for plinking off vintage Soviet armor.

One should also understand that this is not a situation of ‘miss identification’ as in seeing a tank and wrongly recognize it. The planes don’t get that close unless they have to, they could get shot down them selves. Basically, you see something (this is tough), you identify it as a tank or what ever. Now you stay away from its machine guns and surface to air missiles while you call the boss, tell him where you are, and wait to see if there are any friends in the area. If there are friends you have to either leave the target or fly in close enough to identify it. In this case there was also a spotter plan helping out.

In this case there was a miscommunication somewhere and the pilot didn’t realize they where friends until the first shot was off. The US, and I believe many other allies, usually mark their vehicles with big orange tarps when they are in target areas, assuming air superiority, to prevent this.
I will most definatley blame training. If the pilot was properly trained, then he would have known where he was, could have given his command and the spotter plane his correct location, and then his info would have been accurate.
If it was a miscommunication, then someone is still to blame. Saying 'miscommunication' dosen't remove fault.
The US used to have a military to be proud of, but the new PC Armed Forces, the kinder, gentler army where DI can't even cuss at the recrutes is a laughing stock, and I'm ashamed of what it's turning into.
There are a lot of good soldiers in our army, and there are a lot of good Non-coms and officers trying to do the best they can in a beurocratic system that is more geared toward keeping politicians in office than keeping our young men and women alive in a combat zone.

Rigorous training saves lives, but if our friendly fire numbers really are that much higher than those of our allies, then apparently our training isn't rigorous enough.
After hearing more about it on the news, I agree with most of you. Lack of training for the pilot and lack of communication. The family of the soldier that got killed are very upset though that the pilot and U.S officals wont come to the U.K to explain why it happened and apoligize.
Blaming the training of the pilot is a little foolish. Training can always be improved and there is no surplus of apologies in a state of war. The fact that this is an issue at all shows how sharp the whole operation is; one screw-up and the free world is a buzz.

Also, if blame is to be laid, it would not be with the pilot of the A-10 or his training.
"Friendly fire" incidents occur in every war (I know of examples at least back to the 17th Century), the current being no exception. Although everyone does their best to minimize it through training, identifying markers (uniforms, paint schemes, etc.), and technology, it is still going to occur.

In a war like Gulf War I or Gulf War II, the likelihood of such incidents are even higher because of the front lines' fluidity. Units are moving so fast that the "fog of war" is much greater than normal. As much as we might like it to be so, wars are not like video or board games where everyone has a god-like picture of every individual element of their forces.

No one involved should be personally required to visit with the families of friendly fire victims. That would be a bad precedent to set. In this war, people ask because the incidents are so few. What happens in a major war like World War II where tens of thousands of people are killed by friendly fire, even including the sinking of friendly ships?

Trog wrote:
The pilot should not be blamed, blue-on-blue incidents do happen in war...they always have.

British military personnel have to undertake an annual 'identification' test, to prove they know what vehicles and camo others are using around the world.

I am always sickened by such incidents. In the first Gulf War, I remember hearing about an incident where three British Tanks were hit by American forces.

I have to say that the American forces have never been trained properly when it comes to identifying the enemy, and it doesn't help when some of the soldiers and pilots adopt a somewhat "cowboy" approach to war.

It is fairly well known that British troops are not as 'trigger happy' as other forces - usually excercising a fair amount of restraint in high-risk situations.

Both my grandfathers fought with the British Eighth Army in WWII in North Africa and Italy, and they could identify enemy tanks, planes, ships and even trucks. Sometimes they could tell the enemy was approaching from the distinct sound of their engines.

When I was in the army, we had to learn to identify all kinds of things, including enemy vehicles, insignia, anti-personnel mines, rifles and hand guns. We were even taught how to use enemy weapons ourselves in case the need arose.

I think that any Army that doesn't teach its troops proper identification of the enemy and reasonable restraint has failed in its duty.
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