CENTCOM Releases Report on Apache Gun Camera Video From Iraq

For those of you who might have missed it, there is a lot of discussion about this video published on Wikileaks, apparently acquired from a “whistleblower.” The video is gun camera footage from Apache attack helicopters involved in the killing of two Reuters news employees, photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and driver Saeed Chmag, in summer 2007.

The Army carried out an investigation into the civilian casualties that resulted from the events of July 12, 2007, and the final AR 15-6 report with, supporting documentation, some of it redacted, is up at the Central Command web site.

I agree with Bill Roggio that there is missing footage as no gunships would be cleared hot to shoot anybody carrying a weapon while just cruising around eastern Baghdad. With all of the many different militia hanging out in the city, good and bad, the often out of uniform Iraqi police, thousands of various security guards and just the average citizen carrying around AKs, half that city would have been mowed down.

From reading the CENTCOM documents, the Apaches, from Bravo Company, 1-227th Aviation Regiment, were supporting a large cordon and search operation and were responding to a troops in contact when they opened fire on the group of Iraqis that included the Reuters reporters. The trouble begins when the pilots saw the cameraman peer around the corner and mistook the camera lens for an RPG.

Photos recovered from the Reuters photographer’s camera show that he was snapping shots of a Humvee down the street 100 meters away. The time stamp on the photos show that they were the last ones he took before the Apaches opened fire, according to the reports.

Once that mistake was made the pilots operated as if the Iraqis were insurgents hell bent on attacking friendly ground troops. One pilot said in his testimony he saw insurgents engage the ground unit and thought he saw a flash from an RPG. That’s not apparent from a careful viewing of the video. Ground troops had reported taking small arms fire during the operations and report seeing RPGs among the bodies. The report includes photos from the scene but its difficult to make out an RPG.

There was apparently an extremely permissive ROE in effect during the operation because the statement from one of the Apache pilots says that after the attack that can be seen on the gun camera footage, the pilots spotted an individual(s) carrying an AK-47 enter a 3-story building. The pilots asked for and received clearance to fire and blasted the building with three Hellfire missiles, one in each floor, destroying the building. The statement says between 8 and 11 bodies were subsequently removed from the building.

The pilots also had reports from the ground troops that a vehicle, they weren’t sure what kind, was dropping off and picking up fighters in the area. They assumed the van was that vehicle. An unidentified Lt. Col. Who conducted the 15-6 investigation, possibly from JAG, asks the pilot why he shot the van when there were no weapons visible:

LTC: Did you see anything in the van?

Pilot: I couldn’t see inside the van, but they ran around right after I had seen them extract weapons and individuals.

LTC: As you saw on the tape, they didn’t have any weapons. So, what drove you then? What threat made you want to engage the van?

Pilot: Well the friendlies were 300 meters away and from the initial report that a black car, sedan had been coming in and dropping off insurgents, taking them out, moving them to different locations. That was my whole thought process.

From reading the pilots statements, they believed the ground element was being shot at by both AKs and RPGs. They say that ground troops did find RPGs among the bodies. This is an interesting bit from the interviews when one of the pilots reflects on what happened:

LTC: Did you think your knowledge of ROE and the law of armed conflict adequately prepared you for this engagement?

Pilot: You know, I know we go through ROE a lot, and you’ll be like oh okay, I’m tired of talking about the ROE. I think the heat of the moment is always the one thing that sometimes you might not have control over or you have to actively stop yourself and be like wait, think through it again, you know, and I talked with some of the other guys after the engagement. The situation changes after you’ve done the first engagement or whatever, the situation is totally different. I never thought of it that way. I would have to go through those steps again. Now, what was five minutes ago was not the same.

The Wikileaks report is mistaken in saying that the children wounded in the van were not evacuated to an American hospital. The report says both wounded children were taken to the trauma center at FOB Loyalty, and later transferred to an Iraqi hospital.

The part of the video I had trouble with is the dialogue between the Apache pilots, which almost sounds like a caricature it’s so callous. I spent a lot of time around troops in Baghdad in 2005-06 and never heard anything even akin to that. Soldiers wanted to do soldier stuff and kill the enemy, but there was a basic level of respect for human life and the power of the weapons they carried. Trust me, there was a lot of gallows humor and grim photo collections of piles of dead from the civil war, but there wasn’t the absurd blood lust that’s so apparent in the pilot’s conversation.

Perhaps it was because the ground troops saw the grisly aftermath of death and the second order effects on families up close and personal that they had a different outlook than the pilots that buzzed the city in glass enclosed cockpits. Or perhaps they spent so much time in the homes of the Iraqi people that they saw them as fellow human beings.

After watching that video, I thought of something the late retired general Wayne Downing once told me. We were standing talking on the tarmac at Baghdad International Airport in early April, days after American troops had seized Baghdad. He asked me what I thought of the whole troop’s performance and the invasion. I told him it was impressive, but that I saw a lot of civilians get killed. “The military is a blunt instrument,” he told me, “the American people need to know that when they decide to use it.”

  • Philo

    Sorry these guys got shot. That being said….If you run around a war zone mixed in a fire-fight, you might get shot. Having trouble understanding why this such an astounding revelation.

    • Awesome Christ

      I know, right? The gall of these towelheads putting their heavily populated urban area into the middle of our awesome “war zone.” I only wish those young terrorists hadn’t gotten off so easily, they probably would have given up some actionable intelligence if only our soldiers had a chance to torture them a little (for freedom’s sake).S

      • Philo

        Oh, Don’t you mean the gall of the islamo-fascists to hide amongst the woman and children, to use holy sites as ambush jump offs? yeah, but I don’t think that takes “gall” I think that takes the special kind of gutless cowardice that you can only find in the islamo-fascist.

        P.S. Nice try dirt bag. Now get off the computer before your momma catches you again..

    • Beenthere

      I think the real issue here is up to date SA from the ground to air and aircrew who may need to apply ROE abit more strictly. Its abit hard to tell a camera from an RPG through a FLIR scope (especially in a hot cockpit). That being said, ROE is real clear - only use deadly force if you are fired or about to be fire upon in order to safe life. Engagement should have probably stopped after initial rounds were fired - hitting the van overstepped the ROE when the threat situation had clearly changed. That being said, I wasn’t there and didn’t have to make the call.

    • rich

      No weapons = murder.

  • @Earlydawn

    It’s not rocket science. You’re carrying heavy gear. You’re grouping up in a a “yellow” (if not red, I don’t know) zone. You’re peaking around corners like you’re looking for targets. A unit in the area was ambushed. Where’s the confusion? With the facts as presented and the ROE the same, I would have done the same thing.

    Also, that video title is a slap in the face. Not to say I blame the DT staff - just saying.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Hmmmm. Should one feel justified in labling the aircrew’s commentary as ‘bloodlust’ without having been there immersed in the events of the day and days before? Funny, but at the end of every comment I sense the unspoken “that’s for shooting at my guys a**hole”!
    I’ve told people I had the best, and most fun job I would ever have when I was in my 30’s: if I wasn’t blowing things up, I was planning to blow things up, or writing a report recounting how well I blew things up. The only thing that would have made it better was if I was saving a fellow warrior’s life at the same time.
    More E.B. Sledge less Sanjay Gupta.
    More Modernity less post-modernism.
    BTW: Wikileaks is run by a smirking, ‘peace’ activist Andy Warhol impersonator suffering mightily from the ‘Vision of the Anointed’

  • Wes

    Good shoot.

    Seriously, these were obvious insurgents, preparing to ambush those incoming troops. Notice how there is not another soul in the area- a sure sign the locals know something is about to go down.

    The guys who put thic clip up expect us to mourn for the “murdered” “journalists”, who are hanging out with insurgents intent on killing Americans. Instead, I lol’d.

  • Jeff M

    I think it was equally bad judgement on the journalists and on the pilots, up until the middle of the video when they engaged the van. Once they shot the van, they crossed a line. That van definitely looked like an ambulance to me. Doesn’t matter what’s going on, you let whoever wants to offer aid to the wounded.

    That’s one thing I’ve seen repeatedly in these videos, they are given clearance to fire and they will fire repeatedly if they see any movement. It ought to be policy that you fire to put them on the ground. If they stay on the ground the fight is over, and you ferry the survivors off to a hospital. I think what we have right now going through these pilots minds is “If I kill them, I save us the time and expense of prosecuting them” which is the wrong way of thinking. This video ought to be showed to all of the pilots and gunners over there so that they realize that this could be them, and this will HAUNT these pilots the rest of their lives, no doubt.

  • Bob

    This incident was address in “The Good Soldiers”. The reporters were not known to be in the AO as they had not coordinated with the local Army units.

    At the time of the incident the reports were operating in the near, by some accounts very-near, proximity to individuals who were engaging the Army units iwth automatic weapons fire, emplaced IEDs, and it was believed at the time RPGs. Sometimes in a firefight it is hard to stand up and get a great look at what the other guy is throwing, or thinking of throwing, downrange at you. Unless you have some perverse wish to get shot in the process.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and application of military power will ever be antiseptic and ‘civilian casualty’ free. If that makes you really uncomfortable don’t commit military forces.

  • John Moore

    What do they expect?

    They can embed with US troops on the ground and be a bit more protected?

    I dubt you would ever get the truth how do we know they wern’t those people who make those dumb vid showing US vehicles blowing up.

    Got what they deserved for getting to dam close

  • mike j

    For what Wikileaks claims it’s trying to do, they have to be totally fair and above reproach. All they’ve done here is produce some propaganda, amateurishly. That’s an ugly piece of footage, and knowing the back story makes it worse. But given what those pilots saw, and the zeitgeist of Baghdad, summer 2007, that was the right response.

    Condolences to the innocent’s families.

  • Big D

    Err, I saw somebody clearly holding a RPG several seconds before the call went out that a RPG had been spotted.

    The reporters were embedded with a force of irregular, illegal (per Geneva) infantry… what, exactly, did the pilots do wrong, again?

  • MCarriage

    Its really hard to pass judgement without being there. Our pilots are highly trained and I doubt were just out for blood. They were going what they have been trained to do and IMO they should not be punished for it.

  • slntax

    sorry just like if you hang out with gangsters and get killed in a drive by you dont get to yell ” but but im innocent!” same applies with hanging with terrorists. just because you are a reporter doesnt give you some sort of immunity to not being targeted esp if you have no identifying markings. this is war it is not policing. if a soldier in a war zone see’s men running around with ak’s they do not have to go up to then and ask “hey what are you guys doing?” soldiers do not have to wait till the enemy is pointing a weapon at them to establish intent. SOLDIERS DO NOT EQUAL POLICE!

  • willy

    They sure equal a lot cop talk.. :) :)

  • ddBot

    Oh you being funny and smart now eh?

  • willy

    Sorry.. :) :)

  • Blight

    The Reuters people did not coordinate with the Army troops in the area. However:
    -Do you tip off the army to where you will be at every moment, such that if the army knows there will be a raid in the are that they prevent you from going out to do your job?
    -Is it a bureaucracy issue? Who do you liase with, and will the message trickle out to the appropriate persons?
    -Even if those pilots knew there were journalists in the area; would that have changed the ROE? Once “weapons are sighted”, they asked for clearance to engage, and did so. Knowing about journalists might not change the outcome.

    Granted, all war correspondents /know/ the inherent risk of operating in a war zone. Quite a number of correspondents died during OIF and afterwards, so it’s not like everyone expected to go home alive.

    The contentious issue is the identification of “weapons” in the hands of the various people, and how this leads to the subsequent engagement. I’m guessing the Apache was quite a distance away due to the time lapse between weapons fire and explosions on the ground. This strained the capabilities of their optics to clearly identify things. War can’t be fought at HD 1080p, and never will be.

    Human shields are an old phenomenon, and the Apache isn’t a pinpoint platform for dealing with infantry. The men killed at the outset could be argued either way, based on the ambiguous resolution of images that clearly show a sling of some kind on two men, plus bulky items.

    The van wasn’t marked, but why should we ever do things by the literal word of the convention? Ambulances have been used before as weapons transports by Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., and they are promptly engaged. Why must every vehicle in a city be deemed a combatant?

    I don’t see how the Reuters guys are going to get anything out of the army. War correspondents die, and it’s about as inevitable as the sunrise. Mobs that look like they are carrying an item on a sling is a maybe. A van that pulls up and takes away a wounded man..how can you honestly call that a combatant? If a man was shot on your street, wouldn’t you put them on the back of your pickup and head off to a hospital?

  • Joe Cottone sr

    Not for anything but when anyone ventures into a combat zone to shoot pictures and or get a story, they could become the story or even killed like these two men. I dont think the pilots knew they were unarmed members of the press that embedded themselves in with the enemy for a story.
    For anyone to call these pilots bloodthursty while they were engaging enemy combatants that had ambushed ground troops is very stupid.

  • Lalaland

    Can anyone here seriously describe this video as ‘best practice’?

    Journalists do not require permission from either side in a conflict to report and ‘co-ordinating’ with one sides forces is just as likely to get you killed as a spy by the other side. Blaming the journalists for being there is asinine.

    It’s probably a clean shoot as the activities engaged in by these journalists, leaning around corners, carrying long shapes and the weapons apparently carried by others in the group (lets remember Iraqis have a right to guns and I doubt there are many takers for federal gun control here). What is disturbing is the engagement of the van by the Apache. It didn’t match the description of a ‘black sedan’ seen assisting insurgents and there were no signs of weapons so why engage?

    The video is obviously partial and pushing an agenda but the audio from the airmen themselves raises disturbing questions about whether they understood why there were ROE. COIN requires the support of the population if you make force protection your priority you will kill more civilians and you will lose to the insurgents. As hard as it is for some people to accept that military force will always cost civilian life, it seems from comments here that it is just as hard for some to accept that winning a COIN war will cost more lives.

    I believe what this video shows more than anything else is the need for sensors and systems designed for fighting COIN. The video feed is good enough for spotting a T-90 in the Fulda Gap but fails on the kind of fine recognition necessary to tell a long-lens from an RPG.

  • Charley

    The importance of raw, unedited video cannot be understated. Until all the facts are presented, it is wise to remain skeptical of any conclusion.

  • Tom

    Simple solution, those in the media should wear kits that Identifies them as media, similar to those in Western outfits that wear that blue body armor and helmet gear we all see on CNN. Make it easy for both sides to report the news, and hopeful keep their own body count down. If you go outside the wire without your gear and Press Pass on ya, your fair game like anyone else who gets caught up in the wrong place the wrong time. Sad, but that is life in the a war zone.

  • Peace

    Any of you.. suport war and death of another human being… should be charged with “second degree murder” .. the ones involoved in shooting innocoent people, specially children should be considered “serial killers” and charged with “first degree murder”

    Anyone YOU supporting to war.. should have the balls to get right in there and watch your legs/arms blow apart and come home to NOTHING and live the rest of your misreable lives wishing there were no wars, it’s meaningless!

    Grow the Fuck up!

    • Nidi62

      Bad news buddy: as long as 2 people are alive on this planet, there will be warfare. Get over it.

    • cadetland

      Peace is a fools ideal… Humans are to stupid to stop fighting and those who are smart enough can’t stop it… This is the way the world is and forever shall be, meaningless as it is…

  • rugerblake

    What I am saying is these people got what they so richly deserved or what was coming to them. They were involved in something they we not supposed to be doing or in a place they should not have been. If you have trouble with the latter, please study Darwin.

    • willy g

      What a half assed comment, “richly deserved, not supposed to be there”, they f’#k=ng live there. maybe one day you will get what you so richly NEED …a damn brain. and darwin would love to have met you….evolution…whats that you say…..duhhhhh

  • MAJclem

    From 2:00 to 2:30 in the unedited video you can see the guy with the AK and the guy with the RPG. After that they crowd together and lean around the corner of the building before they get engaged. Carrying and RPG is a hostile act. Spotting for someone carrying an RPG and using your press credential as cover is a hostile act. Why didn’t Wikileaks do a zoom bubble on the guy with the RPG like they did for the kids in the van?

    • PorkRoll

      “Why didn’t Wikileaks do a zoom bubble on the guy with the RPG like they did for the kids in the van?”

      -I hope that question was rhetorical…

  • bdwilcox

    My only regret is that there weren’t additional reporters there from AP and Al-Jazeera.

    • Olaf

      Classy! Any other innocents you’d care to wish were dead, or is your Christian bloodlust satisfied for a little while?

    • mad mike

      You may not realize this, but a good percentage of the qualified correspondents, in the field with the Line Dogs, are former grunts themselves. Dan Rather is a US Marine. Many are killed, but they know the risk, and are willing to take it. It sure beats Mommy showing up on the battlefield, wanting to know if her kid is gettin’ enough sleep!

  • jon

    Your all a bunch of war mongering fascist pigs.

    • PorkRoll

      Oink, oink!

    • yardley

      annnnd welcome to defensetech.org, good sir

  • Peter

    History has been always written from the winner’s side of view but that doesn’t make wrong decisions right. Due to the fact that not all evidence is available it is difficult to determine if the engage was justified or not, but killing civilians is a war crime and should be punished.

    Make a clear cut and send this case to a war crimes tribunal with all the evidence or otherwise there will be a doubt.

    You can not expect that other people have trust in the US if incidents like this are not properly sorted out.

    • SMSgt Mac

      “Due to the fact that not all evidence is available it is difficult to determine if the engage was justified or not, but killing civilians is a war crime and should be punished.”

      So, in one sentence you provide a caution against leaping to conclusions and then…leap to a conclusion.

      Mmmmm. I smell ‘seminar’ trolls from Wikileaks perhaps?

      • Peter

        nope but I didn’t want to offend anyone, because I am not American (but European please don’t think that I am therefore agree with European politics I think what the US is doing is right) and in my opinion there should be a some kind of independent (or third party) “war” tribunal.

        Because if they determine that it was justified or an accident you get rid of bad publicity and if they punish it as a crime you can, with the right promotion get also rid of bad publicity and at the same time get rid of loose ends.

        It might not be an easy step to do but if you do it right it is a win win situation for the US.

        At least in my opinion. Please let me know if I am wrong but I think it is a logical thing to do.

    • Holy Christian Man

      Who expects anyone to trust the US? All we need to do is shoot their reporters and children and they’ll shut their pieholes fast. I only wish we could do the same to all liberals, egghead professors, and anyone else who is literate and doesn’t watch FOX news like I do. God bless me and all other white disciples of Christ as our crusaders take back the filthy holy land and its oil.

      • SMSgt Mac

        And YOU appear to be a cliche flinging ignoramus as well. Only you sound like a leftard posing (poorly) as to how you fantasize a conservative’s thought process operates .

        Or, IF you really are some racist whack job, I apologize for calling you a leftard, when you’re really just an equally despicable racist whack job.

        Yep. I’d say we got Seminar Trolls. Perhaps somebody ought to Google up where they’re winging in from?

        I’d advise DT to close the thread and call Orkin ASAP.

      • Peter

        I don’t care for all of that but I do think that there are rules which do separate us from animals like those we fight and I don’t want to be at the same level as those rapid dogs.

        Do you want to be on the same level?

    • uncle samuk

      whos gonna punish the american army….

  • Gary

    I had no problem with what they said and how they said it. Do you really want our pilots to go into agony each time they shoot? Hell no. It’s much better for them to be this way for their mental health than to be some kind of gandhi who cries out for each kill

  • Blight

    Gary: Our soldiers need to be human beings. The world has seen enough war crimes to fill a history book. Asking human beings to kill and feel nothing is like asking the circular peg to fill the square hole. Some men will obviously feel differently about taking life than others.

    Indeed, once the chain of events starts it’s easy for the decision tree to branch out into more and more killing. They followed procedure pretty closely, and this is indeed a real tragedy. What sucks more if you think about it, is that there are probably other incidents like this.

    They should put up another version without circled objects or diagrams. Try and make those identifications without help. It’s not easy, and in combat you need to make those identifications very, very quickly.

    • PorkRoll

      Considering their webpage is propoganda to begin in with, I severely doubt they’re agonizing over being fair.

    • mad mike

      I was an Army photojournalist, not a civilian, but I worked closely with civilian journalists, particularly CNN. They understand the risks and the good ones are willing to take that risk. They need to be there with the 11-Bravo “Line Dogs” because they will tell you the truth. The further you go up the chain-of-command, the less reliable information you’re going to get. The big picture, “yes,” but not the bloody details. The worst thing for a guy like me is to risk your neck to deliver the facts, and then the story is ignored by a public that will never understand what it means to be a warrior.

  • Larry

    If you watch the video they got clearance to shoot before the photographer peeked around the corner. These pilots wanted to kill them all from the moment they spotted the first weapon. In a fire fight this could be justifiable but blowing away a van taking away a wounded unarmed man? If this isn’t murder then I must of forget everything I learned in my 9 years in the military. Shame. In the end it’s the Bush administrations fault and these pilots will live with this for the rest of their lives.

  • zain

    ok lets forgot about the first killing part which is bloody by itself but whyyyyyyy?
    did they shooot the freaking van i am a civilian and i saw the kids inside, imagine a trained pilot he knew their were kids he knew that the van was only picking up the wounded.

  • PorkRoll

    I think the only book I need to take out from the library is, “How to keep from wringing the necks of arrogant, condescending bitches like you.” It would help me greatly.

  • PorkRoll

    Ah yes, making fun of retarded people. Yeah, and I’m the boor?

  • mad mike

    The same thing happened in Panama (Operation Just Cause). That time, it was a CNN guy pointing a long lens around the corner of a building near the Mariott. Got smoked by a 50-cal. As a former Army combat journalist, I can personally attest to the courage and integrity of Reuters correspondents. It is the very fact that Reuters people DO NOT rely on military escorts, that makes them so good. The major players like to hang around the Joint Information Bureau for the daily Dog and Pony Show. And Christiane Amampour’s entourage alone requires three CH-47 “Shithooks” to get ’em to the AO. A slight exaggeration here perhaps, but you get my point.

  • Chazmotic

    Once I saw the RPG, I was like, those guys fucked up, not our guys. RPG = target.

  • KWdriver

    Before you think about comenting anything else on this topic read the 15-6 investigation linked below.


  • Wes

    My only question: Why are so many libtards reading Defence blogs? Shouldn’t they be out in the streets agitating for socialism or railing against Capitalism or something?

  • Philo

    Listen folks, this is pretty simple, (in hindsight).

    Person A and person B get in a vehicle, drive around the middle of an active combat zone, point long objects in the direction of American forces who are taking fire. Person A and person B are subsequently shot to shit, only to find out later that they were actually reporters.
    Tragic? Yes. Unavoidable? Of course. But person A and person B made a decision themselves, to enter an active combat zone, and point objects in the direction of American troops taking fire.

  • nraddin

    I watched the full length video yesterday before reading anything about what was in it other than the headline about reports being killed. This video had no comments which left me to make up my own mind.

    I saw nothing wrong with any of the pilots actions until the Van showed up.
    1) From the time the Van was ID’ed until the fire is ~67seconds.
    2) They ID that the Van is there to pull wounded off the field
    3) I could clearly see children in the front seat of the Van
    4) The wounded man on the battlefield at no time was ever ID’ed with a weapon and even if he had been he was obviously reduced.

    I think it’s important to not worry so much about the personal commentary back and forth between pilots. They are in a tough place and might say things others would find upsetting, but words are words it’s the actions that count. So I have specifically not talked about what the said.

    Those pilots knew that they where firing on an unarmed Van rendering medical aid on the battlefield, a battlefield we should note is also their home town. If you saw a horribly injured man would you not stop to see if you could help? If you friend was on the phone with you and they where shot would you not try and help? They killed these people for rendering aid the the wounded.

    I love my army almost as much as I love my family and have personally given much to it. I was pleased to hear the passion in the voices of my beloved ground pounders when they pleaded for med-evac for those children gunned down though no fault of their own. And my chest crushes under the pain of knowing that it’s the fault of Army pilots and there simple uncaring of who is in there cross-hairs when they pull the trigger.

  • willy

    Ewer seen cam bod ect..?
    It was also USA made law that convicted lots of war griminals doing anti apartheid war in africa that no matter where the reporter is solider gets charced for shooting one.

  • gates

    There are two guys at about 3:40 to 3:50 in the video who are together one has an AK and the other has a RPG. I don’t know if they are an insurgent or militia but they are clearly not civilians. Unfortunately I don’t think they are even in the group that ends up getting killed.

    The slung bags and camera of the reporters do look like weapons when they are walking. The profile of the camera sticking around the corner could be mistaking for an RPG but it’s shape is different. Apparently the reporter was peaking around the corner in the direction of an advancing US convoy so if you accept that they believed that their were 5 armed men (two men who were really armed, the two reporters mistaken for armed men, and man at corner with an RPG) waiting to ambush US troops the initial shooting is justified.

    The shooting of the van really has no justification, even if it was insurgents picking up their wounded, their were no weapons visible and nothing to indicate the van was a threat.

  • gurd

    Wow, Wikileaks is really into promoting themselves…..why does it take 5 minutes toget to see the video

  • Philo

    I have a question (actually two):

    1.)Doesn’t a vehicle, any vehicle rendering aid, like a makeshift battle field ambulance, need to be clearly and properly marked as such?

    2.)Isn’t using a vehicle carrying children to transport enemy troops a violation of the “rules” for exactly this reason?

  • JJK

    Assuming you have fully informed yourself, let’s have a rational discussion of this tragedy.

    First the relevant facts of the incident as I see them (feel free to disagree):

    1)at least two American attack helicopters were in the air at the time providing air support to ground troops on patrol;
    2)the area over which the helicopters flew was for all intents and purposes an urban combat zone, evidenced by the fact that the ground troops had been subject to hit-and-run attacks in the hours preceding the incidents included in the video;
    3)the ground troops had reported a black vehicle (albeit NOT a van) being used to ferry the harassing forces to and from these ambushes;
    4)while under no obligation to do so (and VERY MUCH to their credit) the reporters did not make their presence known to American commanders in the area;
    5)roughly four blocks away from the ground troops location, the support helicopters observed a group of between 12 and 20 Iraqi civilians gathered in an open plaza; at least some of these individuals were armed (I believe 3 RPG rounds, an AKM and AK-47 were found);
    6)the current law in Iraq (according to troops who served, although I am unable to independently verify this) appears to be that each family is allowed to own one automatic rifle for home protection purposes, these weapons are not to be carried outside of the home unless their owner is a member of the police or military, and RPG’s are per se illegal;
    7)in response to these observations the helicopter pilots requested and received permission to engage the group from their commanding officers;
    8)subsequently an Iraqi civilian, with his children in tow, arrived on the scene and attempted to load the wounded into his van;
    9)again the helicopter pilots requested and received permission to engage;
    10)when the ground troops arrived on the scene and discovered the mistake the pilots had made they promptly loaded the wounded children into the safest available vehicle and transported them to a nearby hospital;

  • ACheng

    ok whatever the hack is happening really personally i dont like the videos and how the hell did wikiweaks got it?
    anyway next time pilots shoot the ground near the suspected insurgents if they run and shoot back sent them straight to hell just a suggestion

  • Jürgen Sanders

    I’m sorry, but at the very moment that reporter peaked around that corner, with his camera in such a suspicious way, I knew they ought to be engaged. With ground troops in the area, and with what very much seemed like an RPG, those pilots did the only correct thing to do.

    If it is true, that there was a van, signaled in the area, that was linked to the insurgents, it is also very understandable that they engaged the van. Btw, those small arrows in the rerun indicating the position of the children are complete bullocks. No way those pilots could have identified them as children or the other people as insurgents.

    Also, in my opinion, those pilots were not acting ‘too bloodthirsty’. In those areas, where there are daily engagements with loss of life on both sides, you always try to engage enemy forces as quickly as possible. If you can save the life of one of your buddies on the ground that way, you’re a hero for it.

    And honestly, it is very easy to critisize people and their decisions after the facts. There just was no other way to respond for that pilot, once he saw the reporter peek around that corner. I myself, when watching that video and knowing full well that was a reporter with a camera, was convinced that could have been an RPG.


  • Just a Joe

    I’m still in uniform (Army) but I’m not going to comment on the video as I think the case is out for the most part until they do their review.

    But I had to offer a couple of comments on part of the article…

    “The part of the video I had trouble with is the dialog between the Apache pilots, which almost sounds like a caricature it’s so callous. I spent a lot of time around troops in Baghdad in 2005-06 and never heard anything even akin to that.”

    ~Most of us are smarter than to just blurt out that kind of stuff in front of random people.

    “Soldiers wanted to do soldier stuff and kill the enemy, but there was a basic level of respect for human life and the power of the weapons they carried.”

    ~Somewhat true depending on who you are talking about. Not all soldiers are the same, I’ve seen some really callous and f##ked up attitudes, comments and actions from my fellow Soldiers, enlisted and officers.

    “Trust me, there was a lot of gallows humor and grim photo collections of piles of dead from the civil war, but there wasn’t the absurd blood lust that’s so apparent in the pilot’s conversation.”

    ~ A Joe with any common sense is not going to blurt out how cool it was when they lit up a group of hadji’s with the Mk19 and bodyparts went everywhere. If you would have watched more of the footage from LiveLeak or Orgish (before it was shut down) you’d know better.
    Sometimes you can also pick up on an undercurrent of what I can only describe as subtle racism (ethnic/religious) that is found in more than a few of the videos.

    Obviously this is my personal observation and YMMV.

  • uncle samuk

    I smell butchers and murderers…

    • SMSgt Mac

      Then wash you ‘pits more often and start brushing the few teeth you have left.

  • r.dal

    not that kind of smell as Sgt.’s failure to do the necessary paperwork

  • SMSgt Mac

    Fascinating. All the Brave (and startingly illiterate) Sir Robins of Jihadi fandom try to sneak in to wage battle long after everyone else goes home. .

  • willy g

    all well and good to state it was a righteous shoot, i will give the benefit of the doubt, as the men were behaving strangely. The part I will never say was needed was opening fire on the van, they were absolutely PLAINLY unarmed concerned persons who were attempting to aid a wounded man….as any human should do, they even knew the helicopter was there, you could see they even looked towards it. They most likely believed there was a decent person in the helicopter and they wouldnt shoot, how wrong they were, the gunner should be forced to walk through bahgdad centre alone and unarmed, he was a blood thirsty animal. the moment he saw the van he was practically drooling at the mouth asking for permission to engage without any hesitation, and his attitude of the deaths and the later running over of the body was despicable. this was a blatant case of indiscriminate murder, hidden by the rules of war. if this was germans in ww2 they would have been arrested for war crimes……sadly war crimes only pertain to the rest of the world, not usa.

  • CruzB

    This is counterinsurgency, not conventional war, you can’t treat it like that. You lose in the long run if you do. It sucks, you have to be more precise, more risks are involved, but that’s the nature of the beast. You wouldn’t try to swat a fly with a sledge hammer.
    Now do I think the pilots are guilty of war crimes? no, it’s an intense environment in a grey situation, mistakes happen. But I think the unit needed better ROE.
    If I had acted the same on my deployment, I’d have killed al ot of people who didn’t need killing.