Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: With Such American Allies, Who The Hell Needs Enemies ?

06 February 2007

With Such American Allies, Who The Hell Needs Enemies ?

Coroner, Andrew Walker.

*

Things go from bad to worse by the day -- nay -- better make that by the bloody minute.

Is it any wonder that under the US army of occupation in Iraq, that that whole unfortunate country is actually dying?

And, what's worse, it's dying a long drawn out, agonising death at that.

But what the hell else can be expected, if the mighty US military can't properly perform it's 'duties' -- even where it's own allies are concerned?

We Brits have a saying regarding (any/all), completely incompetent idiots. We say: "They couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery."

And never has that phrase applied more aptly than with regard to this latest (in a long, long line of), so-called friendly-fire, fatal fuck-ups.

Regular reader, commenter and military man of much personal experience, Mark from Ireland posted the following to our own previous blogpost. And, apart from some slight format editing we now (re)publish it right here in it's entirety -- exactly as he wrote it.

God help us all.

After all these years, our armed forces have been dragged right back in time; back to the bad old days of being 'Lions led by donkeys'.

markfromireland said...

THIS is the full transcript of the cockpit video from call sign POPOV36 during the disastrous friendly fire attack on the Household Cavalry patrol. Lasting just over 15 minutes, it begins just before the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot spots the four British
vehicles.


Link to video - BBC Radio 4 (You need realplayer for this).

Today's Top Story - The cockpit recording of a 2003 "friendly fire" incident, in which Lance Corporal Matty Hull died, has been leaked by the Sun. Were the US right to try and keep it secret?

IMO the Independent has the best summary: Cockpit tape exposes US friendly fire blunders By Nick Hodgson and Aislinn Simpson, PA Published: 06 February 2007

A cockpit recording of a US pilot opening fire on UK forces in Iraq was leaked today, exposing the errors that led to the death of a British soldier.

In the recording, the pilot of one of two US A-10 Thunderbolt jets involved in the attack says, after they realise their mistake: "We're in jail dude". The other pilot, who opened fire, weeps, saying: "God dammit."

The Sun newspaper today published the transcript after obtaining a tape of the recording of the moment that one of the jets launched two devastating attacks on a British armoured convoy, killing Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull.

The Ministry of Defence initially told L/Cpl Hull's family the recording did not exist, but it found its way into the hands of Oxford coroner Andrew Walker, who is hearing the inquest into the soldier's death.

Today the MoD refused to comment on the contents of the videotape. Last week Mr Walker adjourned the inquest in frustration at the MoD's failure to get the permission of the US authorities to use the recording in evidence.

The transcript reveals as many as six errors immediately before the attack near Basra in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003

The Guardian has this:

Bitter tales of combat mistakes There is a long military
history of deaths at the hands of 'friends', Peter Walker notes


And this:

The pilots clearly see orange panels on top of the vehicles, an indicator of coalition troops, but attack when ground controllers say there are no friendly forces nearby. But at the same time, the video gives little sign that the unnamed pilots, believed to be reservists with no previous combat experience, are the gung-ho would-be Top Guns of popular myth.

Richard you might like to take a look at this: MoD refuses to hand over video to Coroner

And more re; the Army Rumour Service forum.

** Note to those who don't know what that is. ARRSE is the British Army's UNOFFICIAL centre of military and civil current affairs, news, discussion, humour, jobs, photos and bullshit.

4:19 PM

markfromireland said...

I missed this one - sorry about all the links: A coroner who demanded the release of a cockpit video showing a US plane attacking a British convoy in Iraq will not have his contract renewed. Andrew Walker criticised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for failing to clear the video to be shown at an inquest.

4:28 PM

It should go without saying that we are eternally grateful to Mark for all his effort, time, trouble, blood, sweat and tears when putting this piece together -- but we're going to say it anyway:

Mark, thank-you; ten thousand times over, mate

20 Comments:

Anonymous Charles said...

The United States hardly has a friend left in this world. Pretty soon it won't have any at all - and with good reason.

12:11 am  
Anonymous Charles said...

I might add that the same applies to the current (aider and abeter) Blair government.

12:14 am  
Anonymous phil said...

So what's new, Richard?

In gulf war one, more Brits were killed by US friendly fire than by the 'enemy'.

12:58 am  
Anonymous Rex said...

And what else is new? Another good man stands up and speaks the truth to power - and that same good man is suddenly told his contract 'isn't being renewed'.

Still, he's a lot lukier than some others like himself have been. The LATE Dr David Kelly, EX Ambassador Craig Murray, EX BBC boss Greg Dyke and quite a few EX ministers of Blair's government. Plus others of course.

1:50 am  
Anonymous harper said...

Testing!

5:48 am  
Blogger bootlian said...

Here's something you won't hear publicly aired by Brit politicians, who are already under pressure from the people (their constituents).

So many 'Blair & Bush' things, of which this story is merely one, have combined to drive the Uk firther and further towards full and total membership of Europe and of 'everything' EU.

Including the (lately), much talked about United States of Europe. Mark my words.

11:06 am  
Anonymous sophia teresa said...

Bootlian,

That is most certainly true of my own local Labour party and from what I hear it's true of many other areas.
I think that it's eventually dawned on many people that if we weren't always so quick to jump aboard the countless American foreign 'interventions' everywhere - they we would NOT need anything like as much military 'help from them as politicians would have us believe.
Our blind alliegence to warped US foreign policies CAUSE us many more problems than would ever ensue in the first place if we let go of the apron strings\\coat-tails etc.

11:40 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just Brits who've fell victim to US cok-ups either. The Canadians and Italians can vouch for that - as can the UN and Nato.

Here's a clip from wikipedia that's well worth reading.

1991 - American A-10 in the Gulf War attacks British armoured personnel carriers killing nine British soldiers (the same number as were killed by enemy fire in the whole war).
1994 - Erik Mounsey, peacekeeper and cousin of legendary guitarist Ian Bairnson memorialized in the 1996 Alan Parsons release On Air.
2001 - American FA-18 dropped 3 Mk-82 bombs on a friendly observation post killing six and wounding 11 at Al Udairi Range, Kuwait.
2002 - American F-16 pilot Harry Schmidt killed four Canadian soldiers in the Tarnak Farm incident.
2003 - American aircraft attacked a friendly Kurdish & US special forces convoy killing 15. BBC translator Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed was killed and BBC reporter Tom Giles and World Affairs Editor John Simpson were injured. The incident was filmed. [11]
2003 - American Patriot missile shot down in error F/A-18C Block 46 Hornet 164974 of VFA-195 50 mi from Karbala, Iraq, killing the pilot.
2003 - American Patriot missile shot down a British Panavia Tornado GR.4A ZG710 'D' of 13 Squadron killing the pilot and navigator, Flight Lieutenant David Rhys Williams and Flight Lieutenant Kevin Barry Main, both from 9 Squadron
2003 British Challenger 2 tank came under fire from another British tank in a nighttime firefight, blowing off the turret and killing two crew members, Corporal Stephen John Allbutt and Trooper David Jeffrey Clarke
2003 - Two British Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicles of the Blues and Royals attacked by a pair of American A-10s, killing Lance-Corporal of Horse Matty Hull, during the invasion of Iraq. Trooper Christopher Finney was awarded the George Cross for bravery under fire during the attack, rather than the Victoria Cross, which can only be awarded for valour under "enemy fire."
2004 - Pat Tillman, famous American football player and friendly fire victim in Afghanistan
2005 - American soldier Mario Lozano is suspected of killing Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari and wounding Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Baghdad. Sgrena had been kidnapped and subsequently rescued by Calipari. However it is claimed that the car they were escaping in failed to stop at an American checkpoint, and US soldiers opened fire.
2005 - American troops opened fire on a Bulgarian convoy. Junior Sergeant Gardi Gardev was killed.
2006 - Two U.S. A-10 Thunderbolts accidentally strafed their own NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, killing Canadian Private Mark Anthony Graham, and seriously wounding five others when soldiers were trying to seize a Taliban stronghold along the Arghandab River. Graham was a former Canadian Olympic athlete who competed on the Canadian 4x400 Men's Relay Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.


Link here.

11:54 am  
Blogger markfromireland said...

Richard,

You're welcome. Glad to have been of help.

Blair says he regrets delays in British soldier's inquest
David Byers

"Tony Blair has said he "deeply regretted" the distress suffered by the family of a British soldier killed by American 'friendly fire' in Iraq because of delays to the inquest. The Prime Minister said the Government would learn the lessons of the delay in completing Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull's inquest, which was caused by American refusal to supply the coroner with a crucial cockpit video. "

Of course to regret is not the same as to apologise .... Somebody should point that out long and loud preferably in Parliament to the dirty little poodle.

3:04 pm  
Anonymous Tom V said...

It is hard to comment on this terrible, 'friendly fire' accident in a balanced and measured way, but we need to try it as much as we can, on the limited information we have.

It does look like, that the lionshare of the blame actually goes for the forward air-controller codenamed 'manila 34', who not only misidentified the 'targets', but also assured the pilots on air-patrol during the first half of the tape, that there were no friendlies in the area, which is a terrible mistake, and I don't know, how that have happened in a time, when we are publically assured of seamless, 'real time' battlefield integration among the various elements.

This is the exact opposite to the accident, when an American fighter pilot dropped a large bomb among Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan killing four of them as a result. In that instance, the canucks were training in a designated area, practicing with permission, which they had obtained, when they registered themselves to the aircontrollers before, who subsequently have repeatedly adviced the pilot, that there were friendlies in that particular area. (His legal defence during his court-martial trial was, that he perceived, that he was under attack, and in danger, which of course he wasn't at any time.)

It is very easy to rush-out, get emotional, and condemn things and lay down a blankett blame from the lowliest Privates to the highest ranking General in the 'theater,' and just wished them to the darkest corner in Hell, but again, I think we need to reign over those emotions.
We cannot provide a credible and comprehensive criticisism about the performance of the American warmachine, without proper case and comparative statistical analysis. I think the Brit MoD have done it, in around the 3rd anniversary of the invasion, and it was thorough, professional and scathing.
Of course, we 'lowly Joes' are not trusted with honesty, but instead we are treated with the steady daily diet of vomitous war propaganda distortions and ommissions.

Neverless a few major things have come out already, both by open sources, as well as through some private channels, relating to the performance of American ground troops in Iraq, and they are as follows:
The bulk of the American ground forces, by the combination of their terribly declining educational standard, resulting in the most blatant cultural insensivity and hostility to the Iraqi population, plus by their short training largely focusing on battlefield combat-performance, which indoctrinates the common soldier/marine to rely on immediate and overwhelming firepower, makes them patently unsuited for occupational duties. Indeed it looks like, that NG and reservist units consisting of older, more mature soldiers, -generally speaking- doing noticably better than younger, active units, even within the American Armed Forces.

Immensely exacerbates the problem the shocking lack of supervision, due to the system-wide and extremely serious deficiency of junior ranking officers, who are abandoning the services in droves, for privat employment. The extreme seriousness of this issue, is mostly hidden, but cannot be overemphasised. The situation is such, that patrols regularly embark on their missions not only without officers, but actually many times without senior NCO's too. This practice, can result that the troops feel abandoned in time of danger, with the attendant threat, that their performance may slide down in scale to the lowest common denominator, which at times could manifest itself in criminal conduct, or simply insane maddness.
Again let me repeat myself on this issue: That the American military is in such a state of decay in Iraq, that couldn't satisfy such a basic and easily understandable criteria as supervision, (which is a common characteristic feature of any regular army anywhere, as oppose to an armed mob), is simply boggles my mind.

The massacre for example where a young girl was gangraped and she and her family murdered, has happened in such patrol, involving elements of the active 101 light infantry div. (young soldiers) without adequate supervision.
This unit due to both its inexperienced and confrontational style, as well as their unprotected light infantry set-up, has suffered 6 times more casualties, including fatalities, during their tour of duty, than the previous, heavier armored and more experienced NG unit, which they had replaced.

3:51 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks (again), for your insightful input, everyone - I'm sure our readers value it as much as This Old Brit, Richard does.

And, hello down there in Australia! When we awoke and came to check our blog-stats this morning we got a big (but pleasant), surprise. We'd been inundated overnight by a real 'surge' of Antipodean 'allies'.

While we've long had some regulars in Australia, Tasmania (one especially knowledagble, loyal and tremendously active one [who knows who he is]), and also New Zealand -- we were taken by complete surprise. But like we said - a pleasant one.

All mainly due, it seems, to Crikey.com.au - Blogwatch. for listing us on their site.

A big thank you (and welcome), to all concerned. We hope you hear our messages loud & clear enough, from so far away and that you'll appreciate us enough to visit on a regular basis -- and even add your own two-penneths.

(Heh. Just don't mention the cricket though. Heh.)

4:28 pm  
Anonymous xxx said...

Tom V, I don't think I've ever disagreed with anything you've ever posted - and I'm not going to this time either.

But while you've made a good job of 'explaining' several things - I don't think explanations should ever be construed or accepted as excuses.

4:52 pm  
Blogger markfromireland said...

No Tom that won't wash. They didn't carry out SOP. They didn't check their IFF.

Yes the controller's bear a lot of the blame.

But those pilots didn't do what they're required to do.

And they killed allied troops because of it.

4:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That coroner, who they have effectively sacked what ever they like to call it, is a bigger, braver and better man than any of our politicians. I hope that in one way or another he winds up having "the last laugh."

Btw, I'd love to meet him and shake him by the hand.

5:43 pm  
Anonymous Tom V said...

Mark and XXX, I accept what you say, although I'm not privy of the information, if IFF works with ground vehicles, but even if they didn't, there were already calls for the existence of orange markers on them.

It's a sad state of affair, no matter what angle we look at it from. Life or death decisions, are routinly being made by pilots in the matter of seconds, just by the nature of their fast paced business, and although I'm sure his judgement to open fire, was clouded by the AC's false input, still I can't argue the grave responsibility he carries for the tragedy, for the rest of his life.

It was heartwrenching to witness, how he broke down emotionally so quickly. That indicates the incredible pressure that job is associated with, which can make a short shrift with one's psychological make-up.

I thank both of you, for your corrective input, and you Mark for providing all these numerous links, in adition.

7:32 pm  
Anonymous greg said...

Anonymous mentioned allied Italian victims of the US too.

An hour or so later I found this at the BBC. Remember this fatal clusterfuck?

US soldier on Italy murder charge

Mr Calipari was mourned as a national hero in Italy

An Italian judge has ordered a US soldier to face trial over the death of an Italian intelligence agent in a car at a checkpoint in Baghdad.

Nicola Calipari, 51, was shot in March 2005 as he escorted Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the airport after securing her release from kidnappers.

The soldier, Mario Lozano, will face a charge of murder in a case that put serious strain on US-Italian relations.

He will probably be tried in absentia as he has been cleared in the US.


More at this link.

8:05 pm  
Anonymous kiwi said...

It's fairly obvious from the video/audio that the two pilots were criminaly let down by their friends on the ground - it's those who are the true 'guilty parties'. As everyone know (or should do), ignorance id no defence in law.

Of course the Pentagon, BlairCo and the MOD are equally guilty -- of being accessories after the fact -- as usual.

11:31 pm  
Blogger landsker said...

Somewhat absentmindedly, listening to the radio, when a phrase sounded loud and clear:
".....160,000 turkeys have been killed...",
and the usual, "....investigations...........exclusion zones....government announcements."

I thought perhaps the Iraquis had finally tired of playing with the Americans, and had simply slaughtered the lot.

10:53 am  
Blogger brenda said...

I don't have a military background or any expertise in this area, but I played the leaked video/audio of the friendly fire incident about 15 times. Then I read everything I could find about it for a few hours.

The impression I have is that Popov36 (the Lt. Col. who is now, unbelievably, a Col. and training other pilots with the Idaho Air Nat'l Guard) mentioned about three or maybe even four times the orange panels. He convinced himself and then convinced Popov35 (the Major leading the flight) that they were orange rockets. Popov35 wants to head back to the base and the other gung ho pilot says he wants to go after the rockets before they do.

My gut reaction is that the pilots, especially Popov36, are more to blame than the controllers. Sorry, I can't help use the word blame. We can assume the ground controllers were using the information they had, even though it was incomplete. That was someone else's responsibility, to get them the information I pressume. I could be wrong. But nonetheless, listen to the tape!

Popov36 is insistent. Popov35 gives him the OK to fire without authorization from ground control by the way. The minute Popov35 says something along the lines of conceeding they MIGHT be rockets Popov36 is heading in and firing away. Listen to tape, it's amazing, practically before Popov35 finishes his sentence Popov36 is in there firing. Same thing happens on the second round.

I am appalled that Popov36 was promoted and is training other pilots.

I'm not surprised the Bush Administration was uncooperative and lied. That's another blog.

I just had to write and say, the pilots are just as culpable as the ground controller, and I think more so. In Desert Storm, according to Wikipedia, the US had as 23% friendly fire rate, if I'm not mistaken. Unbelievable. I understand that there are circumstances we can't conceive of, but you want the glory of being a fighter pilot? You signed up for it right? Then you need to be accountable when you screw up and make poor judgements that end lives.

AND, the last thing I'll say is, I don't see this getting much press here in the U.S. Not surprising I guess.

Brenda

5:01 am  
Blogger brenda said...

Here's another informative article. Apparently 2 civilians were killed during this incident too?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,926204,00.html

5:17 am  

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