Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Death by exhaustion

Murray Brewster of CP says he's obtained a recently declassified report into the fratricide incident of September 2006 that rendered the Crazy Eights combat ineffective:

An American pilot may have been tired and struggling with confusing instructions when he opened fire on Canadian troops in Afghanistan last September, killing one and wounding 36, suggests a newly declassified report.


“The two A-10s in this sortie had been strafing the enemy for over three hours and were about to hand over the (air operations),” says the document.

“The incident occurred in the shift from night to day. This could have been a factor.”

The soldiers, who had lost four comrades through three exhausting days of fighting in an arid vineyard a few hundred metres away from their camp, had just finished breakfast when the air strike happened.

“Most of the company had not yet donned Personal Protective Equipment (body armour and helmets),” the Sept. 9, 2006, report noted.

One of these days, it would be nice if one of these news organizations would see fit to provide access to the entire document they reference, instead of simply asking the public to accept their interpretation. How hard is it to put a pdf up on a website?

From the article, this looks to be a tragic convergence of a number of little mistakes, which combined into one large one. Those on both sides of that deadly encounter have been irrevocably changed by it. I hope they can find some closure and peace.

More importantly, I hope the armed forces of both nations can learn the lessons that will prevent it from happening again. Or, more realistically, at least prevent it from happening again in the same way.


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