Thursday, July 20, 2006

U.S. Bombs Canadian troops again

The fog of war. It exists. And, so does negligence, carelessness and apathy. From the National Post:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Canadian troops narrowly missed serious injury or death when a U.S. jet dropped a 225-kilogram laser-guided bomb on their position this month in an incident frighteningly similar to the friendly fire attack that killed four Canadian soldiers in 2002.
Soft ground prevented a bloodbath, soldiers said of the incident the military has kept quiet.
Private Rob Adams, who was kneeling five metres from where the bomb landed and was completely engulfed by the fiery flash, received a concussive head injury. He was airlifted by helicopter to hospital at the coalition's Kandahar Airfield base.
His condition was assessed as very good and he has been released from hospital, said Canadian Forces Major Marc Theriault.
Although 17 Canadian troops were within 45 metres of the blast, and shrapnel splinters up to a half-metre long littered the farmer's field where the laser-guided bomb hit, nobody died. But nearly a dozen soldiers were blown through the air.
"We heard it coming. What went through my head was, 'I can't believe they bombed us,'" said one soldier who had been standing just over 10 metres from the impact point.
Another soldier, 25 metres away, was smashed so hard to the ground that the edge of his helmet was pushed in. He is still suffering severe headaches from the July 8 incident. The explosion blasted a different soldier three metres into a mud hole.
The incident was all too similar to an attack by a U.S. F-16 aircraft that killed four Canadian troops during a training mission near Kandahar in April 2002. Eight other Canadians were injured.
A Canadian soldier who was outside the blast radius in the latest attack saw the bomb hit, and immediately concluded his comrades were dead.
"I thought for sure that everyone was toast, because there's no way you get hit by a 500-pound bomb and walk away," he said.
Had the ground been harder, the three closest soldiers would be dead, and several more severely injured, soldiers said.
"It was soft dirt, so [the bomb] went way deeper than it should have, and the blast went straight up," said one non-commissioned officer. The crater measured about three metres deep and two metres across.
The near catastrophe occurred around 7 a.m., midway through a chaotic 12-hour battle in Pangawayi, 30 kilometres west of Kandahar. The pilot of the A-10 Warthog ground-attack jet mistook the Canadians for Taliban, the NCO said.
"He's coming in fast, he's coming in low, he's in the middle of a war zone, and he made a wrong call," the NCO said. "That happens. Those guys cover us a lot."
Another soldier was less forgiving. "Pangawayi isn't that big. I don't know why they were dropping bombs."
Other soldiers questioned the Canadian military's response. "It's kind of funny that they haven't come to talk to us," said one. "They haven't even sent us to a doctor. They're going to bury this one deep."
Maj. Theriault said the bombing occurred during "complex combat."
"This happens in dangerous situations where you have multiple directions to look after at the same time. Fire is coming from different directions, and you have fire also coming from above," he said. "Fortunately, our soldiers suffered only minor injuries."
An investigation is underway, as in the case of any operation gone wrong, he said. He wasn't sure if the U.S. Army had been notified.
"If it involves a U.S. aircraft, it's pretty much certain contact would have been made with the U.S.," Maj. Theriault said. All of the involved in the incident, except for Pte. Adams, have been in the field and fighting ever since.
Solution: If it's coming hot and straight and you haven't called for direct air support and you're not illuminating a target, shoot the friggin' thing down. You can always say you thought it was a Taliban aircraft.

Enough is enough. And, why was this kept so quiet? Is this another dictate from the PMO?

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