Author Topic: More "Friendly" Investigations  (Read 2823 times)

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Online Bruce Monkhouse

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More "Friendly" Investigations
« on: April 16, 2006, 23:31:21 »
At this rate it won't be long before we have more investigators than fighting troops  ........

Canadians investigate possible friendly fire incident in Afghanistan
Last Updated Sun, 16 Apr 2006 22:31:04 EDT
CBC News
Canadian military officials are investigating a possible friendly fire incident in southern Afghanistan Friday in which six Afghan police officers and a teenaged boy died.

The incident took place during a battle at the village of Sanigsar, which is 40 kilometres southwest of Kandahar, during which Taliban rebels fired two rocket-propelled grenades at a Canadian light-armoured vehicle (LAV).
"We are investigating the incident and we will work jointly with the government of Afghanistan to determine the events that took place during this fight," Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, commander, Multinational Brigade South, said in a statement.

"We will review all our procedures to ensure that we continue to co-ordinate with our Afghan partners against our common enemy," the Canadian officer added.
He did not say what precipitated the friendly fire incident, or whether Canadian soldiers were alleged to have fired the fatal shots.

CBC's Sasa Petricic said from Kandahar that the investigation appears to be centred on Canadian and U.S. troops.
Unidentified Afghan sources told CBC News that one of their positions came under Canadian fire during the battle. But Canadian Colonel Ian Hope was adamant that the casualties were not caused by his troops.

Canadian investigators are already investigating the death of 22-year-old Canadian Pte. Robert Costall, who died in what has become known as the Battle of Sangin two weeks ago.
Costall was shot in the head as he was rushing to defend a forward outpost from Taliban attackers. The Investigators are trying to determine whether the shot was fired by friendly forces or by enemy forces.

In the Good Friday battle, about 100 Canadian soldiers rushed to the assistance of the Afghan police after they were ambushed by Taliban rebels firing pistols and rifles.
During the fight, a Taliban fighter fired two rocket grenades that damaged the Canadian LAV, but did not injure the soldiers inside.
What had been a minor skirmish soon escalated into a significant battle. The Taliban troops retreated to their holdout in the village of Sanigsar, where they were attacked by British Harrier jets, U.S. Apache attack helicopters and U.S. A-10 Tankbuster aircraft.

About 41 Taliban rebels died in the day-long battle.

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Offline Teddy Ruxpin

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2006, 23:37:48 »
Perhaps this is the same incident:

The US military has admitted killing seven civilians during a battle with insurgents in Afghanistan.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4914838.stm
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Offline pbi

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2006, 11:22:26 »
Perhaps this is the same incident:

The US military has admitted killing seven civilians during a battle with insurgents in Afghanistan.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4914838.stm

Bruce: IMHO it's way better on these cases to go ugly early, and get the investigation underway so that there is no question we are hiding anything. A by-product of the transparency here is hopefully the growing realization amongst the public that modern war is not the push-button stuff beloved of Popular Science magazine articles, but it is still pretty much the same confusing, dangerous and frightening stuff it was 50 years ago. IMHO proactivity in this case is not just important with our own public, but with the Afghan population  and leadership as well. Although lots of people there can't read, they can (and do...) listen to the radio. The last thing we want them to think is that Afghan deaths don't matter as much as our own.

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Offline Quag

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2006, 11:37:27 »
I completely agree with Pbi.  We want to admit our mistakes.  If we conceal things, it is one more thing for Jack Layton etcetera to harp on as he's trying to convince Canadians that we should not be in Afghanistan.

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2006, 12:41:07 »
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for any investigation that could help save ours and friendlies lives, but does there not come a point when a soldier has "investigation-investigation" in his mind instead of the "drill"?

Hopefully there is a protocol for informing the troopies about the reasoning......
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2006, 13:05:03 »
http://www.canada.com:80/components/print.aspx?id=5bd44b21-3a73-4968-b104-5fe2de918b64&source=somnia

This article citing the recent battle seems to point to better teamwork with the Afghan police. We are finding in Iraq that units responsible for an AO help to train and conduct joint op's with Iraqi Army units. This leads to a better understanding of each other and helps to bolster the effectiveness of the inexperienced indigenious force.

This particular instance which is under investigation, seem's on the surface to be similar to the incident that resulted in the death of a US and Canadian soldier. Meaning reinforcements rushing to the aid of forces that are already engaged which can cause identification problem's for both the reinforcing unit and the engaged unit and/or supporting CAS elements. This danger is similar to a passage of line's event and calls for close coordination. Another problem could be how close the enemy forces were to the afghan police unit that was under attack. This also heighten's the potential for identification issues.

Sounds to me that the Canadian unit involved in this action performed quite well during this 7 hour battle. Whether CAS, ground forces, both or none of the above were the cause of any deaths to civilians or afghan security forces will be determined by the investigators. But hopefully coordination by Afghan security forces with coalition units will improve and will go a long way to minimizing this potential in the future.

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2006, 16:41:22 »
Ive heard some noise that the air assets did not perform well or in a controlled manner. I'm sorry but the only way this is going to get done is to get face up with these guys in close liaise with local forces . This stand off blast American tactic just enrages locals no???
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Offline GO!!!

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2006, 16:58:43 »
Ive heard some noise that the air assets did not perform well or in a controlled manner.
Perhaps you could substantiate that with a link.

Quote
I'm sorry but the only way this is going to get done is to get face up with these guys in close liaise with local forces .
What makes you think that this is'nt already happening?

Quote
This stand off blast American tactic just enrages locals no???
Are you in Afghanistan right now? Are you an expert in coalition tactics? Forward observation/close air support? Have you ever met any locals?

For this engagement, the enemy suffered 41 casualties, according to the above article, with two Afghan police fatalities, and no Canadian or US injured. That is a pretty successful engagement by most standards.

Given that the taliban have realised the suicidal folly of attacking Canadian, British or US troops, they are now concentrating their efforts on the local police, who are carry the least protection and firepower of the targets in theatre.

There is the possibility of friendly fire in every engagement where a weapon is fired. This one will be investigated, and I'm sure the truth will come out.
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Offline pbi

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2006, 10:48:05 »
Ive heard some noise that the air assets did not perform well or in a controlled manner. I'm sorry but the only way this is going to get done is to get face up with these guys in close liaise with local forces . This stand off blast American tactic just enrages locals no???

billyray: Your image of how the US conducts operations in Afghanistan sounds like it is too heavily influenced by media distortions. I can assure you that US infantry forces there, both Army and Marine, know all about engaging at close quarters without air or aviation support. They also understand, very clearly, about the vital importance of gaining the trust of the Afghan people. But, if the enemy presents himself at clos quarters to get whacked, they are also quite good at calling in all available supporting fires to do that whacking. That's why the enemy doesn't usually engage at close quarters.

Cheers
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2006, 15:53:46 »
CAS is an increadibly difficult art, reading about the use of aviation in the Sha-i-kot valley in 2002 was hair raising.

Troops have to identify targets, provide precise locations of themselves and the targets, talk in an air asset, make sure he is not in the path of an oncoming bomb, missile or other airplane while he is making his aproach at anything from 100mph (helicopters) to almost the speed of sound (F-15) in a 3D environment which extends from the ground to over three miles in the air. All the while the enemy is attempting to suppress or kill the FAC and shooting at any aircraft he is able to. Oh yes, the friendly and enemy are also moving....
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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2006, 17:57:57 »
Quote
CAS is an increadibly difficult art, reading about the use of aviation in the Sha-i-kot valley in 2002 was hair raising.

I was a FAC for several years.  It is still one of the most difficult things that I have ever done.  Keeping track of a flight of aircraft (often with live ordnance even during training) while trying to move and not get whacked by the "enemy" (it was always training for me, never on Ops) and keeping track of what you were trying to hit is HARD.  Those guys were moving at 450kts and had, like 5 seconds in the "pop" to ID the target, readback and get cleared "hot" by me before releasing the bombs, rockets or cannon fire.  Believe me, having worked with CF, US Air Force, US Navy, Dutch Air Force, German Air Force aircrew, none of them ever proved to be trigger happy.

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2006, 09:24:13 »
I think I need to qualify what I said, in fairness to billyray. Presdent Kharzai has just asked coalition forces to be "more restrained" in their operations around the Afghan population. While he is no doubt responding to internal political pressures, we need to pay attention to what he is saying, or we certainly will "enrage the locals". The point has to be made that we take all reasonable measures to avoid killing civilians, but that the nature of the engagements is such that mistakes and confusion are bound to happen.

Cheers
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Offline MCG

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Re: More "Friendly" Investigations (14 Apr 06 battle)
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2006, 20:03:15 »
Quote
U.S. chopper killed Afghans during 'confused’ battle involving Canadians
Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press
Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2006

OTTAWA -- An American attack helicopter killed four Afghan National Police officers and a teenage boy in botched battle involving Canadian troops last spring, say newly released documents.

But military authorities never determined whether the pilot acted on his own initiative because no detailed coalition investigation took place.

After-action reports, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show an AH-46 Apache was responsible for the deadly mistake, which prompted Afghan Hamid Karzai to warn coalition commanders about the need to safeguard civilian lives.

The documents are first official confirmation of what took place on Good Friday in Saar, a tiny hamlet south Mohammad Omar used to preach.

At the time, coalition commanders refused to discuss details of the friendly-fire investigation.

“Preliminary investigation found that there were two versions of what may have occurred,” say the heavily censored reports.

On April 14, a company of Canadian soldiers provided a security cordon around the village in an operation planned and launched by Afghan police and army units.

The first theory was that Canadians “received a request” from police for close air support from an “AH-64 that was orbiting the area,” says one report.

The aircraft would have swooped down to attack after Afghan police and army units “marked the target area”, a crucial preliminary step before unleashing a deadly airborne barrage of rockets or gatling-gun fire.

It’s presumed that during the pitched battle, four of the police officers and the teenage boy were caught in the target area as Taliban fighters retreated to a series of mud-walled compounds.

The second theory was that the “AH-64 took ground fire and responded,” said the report.

In April, coalition commanders promised an investigation, but a coalition spokeswoman in Kabul said there was no followup by American forces.

U.S. Navy Lt. Brenda Steele also said she wasn’t aware of any investigation by Afghan authorities in Kabul, who themselves did not respond to interview requests.

In addition, Canada did not conduct any further review, said a spokesman for the Canadian Expeditionary Force headquarters in Ottawa.

“Since Canadians were not directly involved, the matter was left to the authorities with Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Maj. Luc Gaudet.

Friendly-fire incidents involving NATO troops are often subjected to exhaustive investigations and inquiries, and Gaudet said the lack of followup for this incident does not indicate that Afghan lives are less important than those of coalition troops.

“The Canadian Forces are always sorry and sad when there are such occurrences,” he said.

“It’s always tragic when we deal with friendly-fire incidents, but especially when it’s among our Afghan allies.”

In the hours after the firefight, both the Canadians and Americans seemed unaware that there had been civilian casualties.

Still in his battle fatigues when he briefed reporters, the commander of the Canadian battle group at the time, Lt.-Col. Ian Hope, praised the gritty determination of the lightly armed Afghan police, whom he described as charging into Taliban gunfire.

Afghan police are not equipped with body armour and carry only assault rifles.

It was only when the governor of Kandahar province complained that a three-country coalition team was given the responsibility of investigating.   

In his briefing, Hope acknowledged the situation was somewhat “confused” because his troops were called in late in the battle to assist.

The Canadians were drawn into the fight after an Afghan police checkpoint was ambushed on Highway 1 between Kandahar and Herat. Local police and army units had gathered in the area after receiving intelligence reports that the Taliban were massing in nearby villages.

The battle went on for three hours before the Canadians were called to provide a security cordon, which was set up to ensure suspected Taliban fighters didn’t get away.

Apart from four officers killed by friendly fire, two other policemen died during the firefight.