Friday, March 16, 2007

Some things are too sad, even for words

From Oxfordshire, England, the coroner conducting an inquest into a friendly fire mishap has rendered a decision.

From Thomas Wagner and the Associated Press (by way of ABC News):
A coroner conducting an inquest into a U.S. friendly fire attack that killed a British soldier during the Iraq war said Friday that it was unlawful and criminal.

Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker also criticized the U.S. military for failing to cooperate with his investigation into the incident.

"I believe that the full facts have not yet come to light," said Walker, who has complained that he did not get all the evidence he needed about the U.S. A-10 "Tank-buster" plane that killed Lance Cpl. Matty Hull, 25, in an attack on his armored vehicle convoy.
Wondering how fast things can go to shit? Pretty fast. What follows is not for the faint of heart... Here's the start:

And here's more.

I'm sure some of my readers will chastise me for imbedding these videos. I'll say it was a tough call, but it shows a little piece of what happens on the battlefield. It is, truly, a fog. And, alas, we are but mere mortals.

British Lance Corporal Matty Hull died in the incident.
His widow, Susan, who has fought a long battle to establish the truth about her husband's death, burst into tears as Mr Walker delivered his verdict. After the ruling, she said it was "very disappointing" that the US president, George Bush, who she met in 2003 and who promised to help her, had not "followed through" on his offer.
Notes Colby Buzzell in an article titled "Feeling a Draft,"
President Bush has twin 25-year-old daughters, Jenna and Barbara. I wonder what the war would be like if both of them were running convoy missions on dirt roads night and day, dodging IEDs on the outskirts of the Sunni Triangle. I have a gut feeling things would be a little different than they are currently.
Probably. As to the friendly fire incident, the US has not been forthcoming. From the Guardian's article:
The US military has been accused of attempting to cover up embarrassing mistakes by classifying cockpit recordings of the incident as secret and refusing to make them or the pilots available to the inquest. Key passages of interviews with air controllers have also been kept from the coroner.
They also note that a US investigation acknowledged the pilots hadn't followed protocol, but they didn't do anything criminal.
A subsequent US investigation concluded that the pilots, a lieutenant colonel and a major with no combat experience at the time of the incident, were not to blame. In the tapes they were told by controllers that no friendly forces were in their vicinity but were not given permission to open fire.

Major David Small, a spokesman for US central command, last month said the inquiry concluded the incident took place in a complex combat environment; that the pilots believed they were engaging enemy targets, and that they followed the appropriate procedures.
A sad chapter, like many chapters coming out of Iraq. I just wish we'd be more transparent afterwards; let's get the bad, and the good, out in the open. It is, I suggest, the only way we will get better.

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