Thursday, January 8, 2015

4 Airmen Disciplined after Friendly Fire Incident

Four U.S. Air Force airmen were disciplined through administrative means for their role in a friendly fire incident last June in Afghanistan where five U.S. Army Soldiers and one Afghan Soldier died during a Special Forces operation in Zabul province. The incident took place on June 9, 2014 when a B-1B Lancer dropped two bombs on the Special Forces position. The aircrew incorrectly thought the bomber's Sniper pod could detect the infrared strobes carried by the Soldiers on the ground. This, as well as other miscues, caused the six deaths. Read more in "4 airmen disciplined after June friendly fire incident in Afghanistan", Air Force Times, January 7, 2015.

But  wait . . . there is more. It seems that the "discipline through administrative means" is not quite as harsh as it seems. Another news report says that "Air Force clears crew in 'friendly fire' deaths", The Washington Times, January 7, 2015.  According to the Air Force the mistakes by its B1-B air crew when they targeted the American Soldiers did not directly cause the Afghan Wars's worst case of 'friendly fire' casualties. A CENTCOM investigation conducted by a two-star Air Force general place the blame on the SF team. Meanwhile, the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Commander, LTG Charles Cleveland, has cleared the team leader and team sergeant of the SF team of wrongdoing - attributing the blame on the Air Force JTAC attached to the team and the B-1B air crew. Supporters of the A-10 point to this incident as an example of why the Air Force needs to keep the Warthog as the primary close air support aircraft.

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