Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SF Team Cleared in Friendly Fire Incident

Two Special Forces Soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group have been cleared of wrongdoing in a friendly fire case that occurred on June 9, 2014. A B-1B bomber dropped two bombs on the position of a Special Forces team killing five Americans and one Afghan sergeant. U.S. Central Command conducted an investigation and pinned some of the blame on the SF team on the ground. The lead investigator, Air Force MG Jeffrey Harrigian, called for charges against the two Green Berets. However, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), commanded by LTG Charles Cleveland, conducted a review of the incident and cleared the SF team leader and team sergeant of any wrongdoing. The B-1B was conducting a five-mile orbit at 12,000 feet - placing it outside of the effective range of the radios used by the ground team - which caused a decrease in communications effectiveness between the aircrew and the ground team. In addition, the air crew was relying on night vision devices that did not have sufficient range to detect ground team signals. An Air Force Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC) on the ground with the SF team called in the air strike. The bombs landed directly on the SF teams position. The B-1B, flying too high and too distant from the SF teams position, was unable to properly execute a mission more suited to the Air Force A-10. The A-10 has crews that specialize in close air support of ground units and can fly low and slow - increasing the effectiveness of communications and able to observe the situation on the ground. Read more in "Green Berets cleared in Afghanistan friendly fire deaths", The Washington Times, December 28, 2014.

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