Monday, April 5, 2010

There Is No Question

Reuters has been seeking the release of this video for almost three years. According to the original story, published in the New York Times:

The American military said in a statement late Thursday that 11 people had been killed: nine insurgents and two civilians. According to the statement, American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the statement said, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.

“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad.

Warning: This is graphic.

The video shows that to be false.

Questions to ponder. What if that were your child in the van? What if that were your child pulling the trigger?


Spokane Al said...

I am hesitant to come to the same conclusion as you made.

Another soldier in another blog asked if we would reach the same conclusion without the narratives and the buildup at the beginning of the video.

There were a group of US soldiers moving in the direction of the group, several in the group had weapons, the cameras could very well be mistaken for weapons, bad guys often use cell phones to detonate bombs etc. Over and over our guys have been killed and/or wounded over identical situations. Was the presence of journalists in that theater reported prior so military would know they were there?

I am not suggesting that this was not a terrible mistake – I just disagree that via the camera footage some conclude that this was a war crime. There are many questions to be an answered before we leap to judgment via a captioned video.

Take care Hank.

Hank Greer said...

I didn't conclude this was a war crime, although when it comes to the assault on the people in the van, I think that is a very strong possibility.

But I am saying that the military spokesman's claim that the coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force is inaccurate. That may have been true nearby, but at no time did anyone in this group do anything hostile. And the people in the van certainly didn't do anything hostile. They were trying to help someone who was injured.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a classic example of the "fog of war".

"The fog of war is a term used to describe the level of ambiguity in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations."

I tend to agree we should be careful of a video without knowing the intelligence the aviators received regarding enemy in and around the area. I am not saying I agree with what the footage appears to be telling us and what it may not be telling us. We just need to be careful because we don't know all the facts leading up to the attack.

It was clear the aviators believed they engaged the enemy. We don't know what they were briefed in their intel briefing.

It bothers me that the lead up to the attack in the video makes them look like they willfully shot at non-combatants. We just don't know all the facts, including the van.

No, I wouldn't like it if my child was in the van (they wouldn't be). However, a question just as valid, why were the children in the van (in a combat zone), in the first place?

I don't know all the facts (because I was not there), so I can't say one way or the other what I would feel if it were my child in the aircraft pulling the trigger.

The Fog of War can and does complicate combat operations