Wednesday, February 07, 2007

U.S. Jet Pilot's Video Released in Accidental Death of British Soldier In Iraq

The incident occurred back on March 28, 2003 but the video was just released yesterday. It shows the two American pilots debating whether to attack the British tank force or not. They could see the orange roof markers that indicated that the force were allies in the coalition. The higher-ups that they turned to for orders, however, assured them that,
That is an affirm. You are well clear of friendlies.
In the end, having been told there were no friendlies in the area, they decided that the orange markings were rocket lauchers.

At least one of the U.S. A-10 jets opened fire, killing the British convoy's leader.

"Moments later," according to today's AP story, "they learn that there are friendly forces in the are and that one person is dead another is wounded."

Pilot 1: "I'm going to be sick."
Pilot 2: "Ah f---."
Pilot 1: "Did you hear?"
Pilot 2: "Yeah, this sucks."
Pilot 1: "We're in jail, dude."

I have one thought on this matter:

What a shame that, in the midst of combat, the second thought to enter the mind of a warrior after a incident like this (the first is horror), is that of being prosecuted and going to jail.

On the plus side, it shows that the members of our military are well-trained in the responsibility they have to act wisely and well in all circumstances. We possess perhaps one of the most ethically and legally-grounded militaries in world history.

On the negative side, however, it means that in the heat of battle a moment of hesitation or uncertainty could lead to the failure of a mission or the endangerment of other American or allied troops.

Although I have never served in the military or visited a war-zone I cannot imagine that every situation can be as clear-cut as a Dürer etching. The "fog of war" leaves a lot to the training and intuitive response of the warriors involved. If we cannot trust these men and women with this responsibility and give them our 100% support and backing when they err then we have no right to send them into such a situation in the first place.