In Response to “Murder in Iraq”
Posted by Grant Muioc on 04.11.2010
The US Military did not murder or execute anyone…
It's only fair that someone defends the military from the article posted by Jason Douglas titled "Murder in Iraq".
I'll use this video for cited times HERE so we can all be on the same page.
According to reports by the military (who I believe more than Huffington, Wikilinks or any of the other cynics), two AH-64D "Apache" gun-ships were called to conduct a Close Air Support mission in support of ground forces engaged by hostiles with RPG's. This engagement was part of series of engagements that had been taking place throughout the day.
RPG-7 (the most common variety in Iraq) is a man portable antitank or personnel weapon capable of engaging targets accurately up to 500m, with a range of about 900m. If using an anti-personnel warhead it can spread shrapnel over 25m, or if using a HEAT round it can disable a tank or destroy a HMMWV. They are a big deal because they are cheap and easy to fire, making them insurgent friendly for hasty ambushes. As far back as 2004 the ROE in Iraq was to engage anyone carrying one of these things because the only ones carrying them are insurgents or Iraqi Ministry of Interior Commandos and Army Units. Those are the rules regarding RPG's and in 2007 every single Iraqi knows that. RPG attacks by that time had fallen well off their 2005 high.
The AH-64D, or "Apache", does not simply patrol the skies of Baghdad like some fucking beat cops. They are set up in on a specific patrol route and wait for someone to call for their support. Once they come in they secure the area by conducting Close Air Support. They are supporting the troops moving on the ground to the target/objective. If they recognize a threat displaying hostile intent they can engage after reporting and receiving permission OR if they feel the threat is imminent they can just attack. These guys actually gave the "RPG guy" some time before engaging by asking for permission. But the simply truth is that they identified what they thought was hostile intent (the RPG being present) and engaged. The hostile intent was the presence of the RPG. The "RPG guy" did not have to point it at them, just simply holding it in public constituted hostile intent towards the approaching ground forces.
According to Foxnews.com: "Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks editor, acknowledged to Fox News in an interview Tuesday evening that "it's likely some of the individuals seen in the video were carrying weapons." Assange said his suspicions about the weapons were so strong that a draft version of the video they produced made specific reference to the AK-47s and RPGs. Ultimately, Assange said, WikiLeaks became "unsure" about the weapons. He claimed the RPG could have been a camera tripod, so editors decided not to point it out. "Based upon visual evidence I suspect there probably were AKs and an RPG, but I'm not sure that means anything," Assange said. Nearly every Iraqi household has a rifle or an AK. Those guys could have just been protecting their area." The military has said Army units on the ground were experiencing RPG fire before calling in close air support. And although it could be argued AK-47 rifles are common household items, RPGs are not. Assange said video evidence of the cameras was much clearer than it was of the weapons and that military statements about the presence of weapons had already been widely distributed. But critics say those watching the video online or on television for the first time may not have had any knowledge of those statements. "It's ludicrous to allege that we have taken anything out of context in this video," Assange told Fox News.
(That's right, I used FOX as a source because they at least had the balls to post this to their front page and take on the account provided by Wikilinks- who can't even tell what their own edited video is showing…and yes, the video is edited because there are parts that have been magnified for "clarity". This is great for you armchair Generals, but this is not what the pilots saw on their viewers.)
An Apache is a two seat aircraft. The video shows the perspective of the weapons systems, but not the pilot or the gunner. The camera is taking about a 20 degree swipe of all possible visual information in the 360 degree area. You only see what the camera sees, but not everything that is taking place. The Apaches themselves are probably 500m away or even further. They could be closer. Whatever the circumstance, either the pilot or the gunner have eyes beyond what that camera alone sees. They also can't rewind the video to get a better look to see if the RPG pointing at them is actually a camera or not, they are already reacting to the object. This also explains why there are times that the Apaches state that they see fire but it's not shown on the camera, because the camera is looking 500-800 meters from the Apache's current location…which is witnessing fire because the ground elements are under contact in the area. The contact is just not on the camera.
At 3:45, there is an Iraqi with an RPG. He is accompanied by others who have AK's. They are identified by the Apache's.
At 4:20, the idiot reporter who is meeting with the insurgents (and not identified as media in anyways) points something from around the corner of the same building that the guy with the RPG just walked towards. We know what it is now after multiple viewings and debate, but the Apache has already identified the RPG and anything looking like one now just sends them reacting, especially a guy behind a wall pointing a tube at them.
To be honest the guy with the camera looks like he is the catalyst for the attack. The Apaches engage after he "aims" at them and after they already PID the previous RPG at 3:45. To be fair I am certain that is a camera and not an RPG, but in a fight how would the Apaches know that? They can't rewind their sensors for another look.
The Apaches are already moving to engage when the camera is pointed at them, this is when they mistake the camera for an RPG and say "He is going to fire". Right as the reporter points his camera at them. Was he holding a camera? Sure was. Was he standing next to a guy with an RPG? Sure was. Did hide and point his camera from behind cover as the Apache passed? Sure did.
If you were the Apache what would you have done? Honestly? They did their jobs.
Hostile Intent was established once an RPG was identified. Incorrect or false detections have little bearing on the events that follow. The point is that the Apaches thought that they had identified a threat and acted. If one guy has an RPG and another points a camera that looks like an RPG it's already "too bad" for everyone involved. RPG trumps reporter's camera in threat to task list these pilots are already conducting. These guys rehearse these routines for hundred and perhaps thousands of flight hours, it becomes automatic.
First off, hostiles fleeing the combat area are still considered hostile. Just because they drop their weapons and try to flee does not make them "non-hostile", it just makes them hostiles attempting to escape. Secondly, fleeing is not surrendering. The rules are don't shoot those surrendering. Thirdly, who judges if an identified hostile is fleeing or maneuvering? Basic infantry tactics are built on the idea of maneuver warfare. If someone engages the infantry team they put down fire and begin to maneuver to a better position. Any group of insurgents carrying RPG's and AK's is for purposes an infantry team. You take them all down and keep them from running. Letting them escape can lead to bigger problems such as hostage taking or reentry into combat on their terms.
The Van: unmarked individuals aiding combatants during combat operations are fair game according to the military. This may answer GaryML's questions:
If the guys in the van are attempting to aid downed hostiles during a fight they can be considered impeding the conduct of an operation. They become can be considered hostile by default because they can't be identified as anything else, other than they are helping other hostiles during combat. These people were "Good Samaritans" according to most the reports that I have read, but when the Apache is conducting close air support they have to do their job. They have to protect the ground units that called in the support. Nobody can say if that van is a threat or not during the operation. It could have been another insurgent team, a bomb or packed full of kids…but the guys with the best vantage during the operation made the call. This part of the video annoys me because it has been edited by magnifying the image to try and show the kids. The screen on the Apache would not have been magnified to such an extent. The kids little white blob faces are practically invisible without the editing. This is also the part that pisses people off and I don't blame them. It is hard to watch after the fact because most of us assume we know what happened. The question is what the ROE was for unidentified Civilians on the Battlefield rendering aid to downed enemy combatants. Most ROE, and the Rules or War, prohibits attacking marked medical teams or vehicles. I'll honestly say that I don't know what the ROE was for these guys in that circumstance, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they thought hostiles were attempting to recover hostiles. At the very least they are rendering aid to hostiles as ground forces approached a hot area and the pilots decided to make a decision before the decision was made for them. I know from various reports that an investigation by the military already exonerated the actions and that is good enough for me based on the sole evidence that this video shows.
At 8:41, ground forces, aka "Bushmaster", are requesting to "walk on to the location", twenty seconds later the van shows up. The Apaches report the van to Bushmaster. This is after ground forces have committed to their movement into the combat area.
At 9:23, "Bushmaster" requests that the Apaches stop the van from picking up the bodies. The Apaches get clearance to fire from the ground element shortly after.
This sounds clean to me. Nobody engaged without reporting the situation and the intent was to maintain control of the situation as ground forces entered the area, which is exactly what should have happened.
Running over the body:
I have driven in HMMWV's for years. In military HMMWV's the driver sits low and the front hood's shape obscures the view directly in front of everyone other than the gunner. The gunner gives some direction to the driver if possible, but he was probably checking his vectors and not worrying about the ground right below him. My initial bet would be that they did not see the body. Running over the body on purpose would be questionable. I would still give benefit to the driver that he did not see the body. Dust, smoke, rubble will all add to the chaos. The body looks like it fell on the reverse slop of some rubble, but it could have simply fallen on the best Infil Route to the scene and was unavoidable.
This type of video is naturally classified and anyone with a clearance knows why. It has nothing to do with the actual event, which looks cut and dry to anyone who has ever been in the situation or at least understands why the Apaches engaged. It has to do with the Tactics, techniques and procedures being displayed by a variety of US forces during a combat operation. It also may show sensitive capabilities and limitations on our current and primary Close Air Support system used in theater.
I'll admit that it's certainly not the militaries finest hour, but it is hardly the work of murders and executioners hell bent on simply killing Iraqis. They could do that whenever they wanted, they have the fire power readily available. This at most was a case of mistaken identity brought on by reporters being in the wrong place at the wrong time (which Reuters all but admits by stating "they were not wearing press badges around insurgents"). At the very least this was a clean kill on a team of insurgents carrying a RPG and toting AK's and the reporters picked the wrong day to visit their friends.
Murderers and Executioners? Hardy, this is a three year old event, based on an illegally obtained video, edited by a bias organization and posted on dear Huffington's website as propaganda to tie this single combat situation into demonizing everything tied to the war. It's like saying that all fish tastes bad because you have had a bad tuna sandwhich for lunch...
The kids in the video did actually get taken to a US hospital and not diverted to an Iraqi hospital as stated in the video; you can reference the actual report in link below. I was surprised by this because it's not normal, but that's what the offical report says.
Reuters admits that their people were in the wrong place and not wearing the right markings. They even have this guy, Anthony Dworkin, the director of the Crimes of War Project, which studies humanitarian law in conflict, saying "it did not appear that the pilots had intentionally targeted civilians" on their own new story about the incident (Adam Entous, Reuters, Wednesday, April 7, 2010; 8:21 PM).
Wikilinks admits that ""it's likely some of the individuals seen in the video were carrying weapons".
The Military is right now prosecuting a Navy SEAL for punching a terrorist in the nose yet they "covered up" this? Why not just cover up the SEAL punching the guy in the nose too? Does that make sense to anyone? The Military got their asses handed to them by the Abu Guraub scandal, they don't cover anything up. We have had dozens of our warfighters prosecuted, hundreds admonished and careers ruined, and thousands investigated (including me) for doing their jobs. The majority of these guys are not rapist or murders. Some made poor decisions; others made the best they could in the situation, and most did nothing wrong at all and are exonerated after months of scrutiny by their people that they have to trust the most. Not only does the military have to defend against actual terrorist but they have to defend themselves from nonsense like this.
All because people want to imagine war as being reflective of our society or use it make a political argument against Bush.
It's war. A war that has gone on for the better part of a decade and we are actually winning. But no thanks to statements like this by Wikilinks or others. Would we rather see us defeated and come home losers to an "illegal war" than see us achieve victory and give this country back to those people? I want to give Iraq back better than we took it because we already paid the price. Every single warfigher over there is trying like hell to do the best they can do with a shitty situation and sites like Wikilinks are pushing more shit on them and nobody is defending them from it. This claim by Wikilinks is simply not true. Do you think for a moment that it was MSNBC, CNN, or any other major outlet other than FOX would let it go?
It's easy to cherry pick the very worst cases and apply them to everyone involved. And cynics of the war do it so they can condemn a man who is not even a President anymore.
I feel sorry that our "murderers and executioners" have died and will die to protect our freedom of speech when clearly there are those not responsible enough to use it. Wikilinks has not helped one person by showing this video, its not accurate in it's portrayal of the engagement at hand, and it shows a bad situation in a bias negative light. It is impossible to not feel anger when watching it, but that's because the narrative and editing push the viewer without giving the entire context to the situation.
For all those who disagree with me, I offer you this: The Truth
A website that will allow you read the actual 15-6 investigation yourself. At the very least make an educated opinion on the situation before calling our warfighters "murderers and executioners". They deserve that much respect.