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Thread: The Wikileaks collection

  1. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    If this was a military operation (with uniforms and all), even the drivers would at least have sidearms.

    My view is, if they didn't bring weapons, they're noncombatants. Your view seems to be, if they're in the vicinity of an RPG, they're combatants. That's where we differ.
    Er, the men in that video were quite a bit more than 'in the vicinity' of an RPG (seriously--you can't complain about hyperbole and then say something like that). They were quite obviously grouped with the men carrying the weapons; it's not like they were, by happenstance, crossing the street at the same time a guy with an RPG walked by.

    And the idea that no weapon = noncombatant is problematic. Glaringly, it doesn't take into account spotters. Obviously, the base assumption about a guy without a weapon is that he's a noncombatant, but if his behavior indicates otherwise, it's reasonable to make a reassessment. A guy who just planted an IED and is in the process of escaping is, after all, not carrying a weapon.

    Regarding the first sentence I quoted--these insurgents aren't carrying out military operations. I mean, that's kinda the whole problem, here. Their tactics necessitate a different method of identifying targets than we would use against another uniformed military.

  2. #142
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    Default No polemic

    from Mendel
    I like JMM's reply to my post, except for the polemic barbs ("require multi-party review and agreement before a shot can be taken" - come on!).
    I simply expressed the possibility of a ROE requiring that. We (US) have seen that possibility become a reality in our own operations. A Vietnam joke was a multi-helicopter stack (all directing the platoon leader on the ground), with GEN Westy at the top.

    Now, we have the ability to create a multi-level virtual stack, running up to and including the White House. We have seen in Astan (e.g., Tora Bora, but also less "high value" operations) situations involving exactly what I stated - "multi-party review and agreement before a shot can be taken".

    Others could expand on that, I'm sure.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Check this commentary out?

    I have only skimmed this thread and cannot find a reference to the commentary on Matt Armstrong's blogsite:http://mountainrunner.us/2010/04/wikileaks.html which includes references to a 'rebuttal video'.

    Hat tip to Zenpundit:
    Matt Armstrong has a must-read, incisive, take on the manipulatively edited propaganda popularly known as the “Wikileaks video”
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-13-2010 at 10:11 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    Default combatant = close to a weapon?

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    Er, the men in that video were quite a bit more than 'in the vicinity' of an RPG [...]

    And the idea that no weapon = noncombatant is problematic. Glaringly, it doesn't take into account spotters.
    I was trying, in one simplified sentence, to sum up the distinction between Cecil and myself. Of course I know about people who may have combat roles without being armed, but in the incident under discussion, I didn't see any, so I wanted to not split hairs here.

    Your basic arguing point is still that they're combatants because they're close to an RPG, and you presume to correct me on how close. However, my point stands that other than the proximity (and being in a spot where insurgents were expected to be), I see no evidence that could possibly justify labeling all those 11 people insurgents. Give me a scenario where all of these 11 people have a role in a combat operation that involves 2 RPG and a Kalashnikov, and I'll believe you're not employing a double standard. Until then, please accept that some of those were in fact civilian noncombatants.

    You come across as if your "different method of identifying targets" means "anyone who looks hostile to me is a target", and I'm sure that's not what you want to say. So what other method than "they've got a weapon and are aiming it at people" (and yes, that would include IEDs), or that they are directly supporting people who do, do you want to use?

    Cecil, you're reading all sorts of of meanings out of my post that I didn't put in there, and it'd be too cumbersome for me to set all that straight. The "lens flash" is at 6:20:37 Z to 6:20:38 Z in the video.

    JMM, I don't doubt a multilevel review is indicated in some cases (e.g. planned air strikes), but your polemic phrasing makes it sound as if the red tape prevented soldiers even from returning fire without multi-level review. I really hope that was an exaggeration.

  5. #145
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    Default Change in German ROE before Sep 2009 incident

    I ran into this Der Spiegel article, Changing the Rules in Afghanistan: German Troops Beef Up Fight against Taliban, from July 2009, reflecting changes in their ROEs (making them more permissive).

    07/09/2009

    Changing the Rules in Afghanistan
    German Troops Beef Up Fight against Taliban
    By SPIEGEL Staff

    Behind closed doors, the German government is slowly but surely changing the rules for combat on Afghanistan, allowing its forces to take a more offensive approach. At the same time, German popular support for the "war" that no one wants to call a war continues to decline.
    ....
    On April 8, nobody even noticed when a few words -- important words --were deleted from a NATO document. One of the deleted phrases was: "The use of lethal force is prohibited unless an attack is taking place or is imminent."

    On March 3, 2006, the Germans had this sentence added to the NATO operations plan for Afghanistan as a "national clarification" or caveat. Bundeswehr soldiers were only to shoot in self defense. And there were further explanations in bylaws 421 to 424 as well as in rule 429 A and B. For instance, Germans were not to refer to their actions using the word "attack." Instead they would talk about the "use of appropriate force."
    ....
    This policy is now outlined on the pocket-sized reference card of combat guidelines that German soldiers carry with them. The Bundeswehr calls it "a structural adjustment;" the Defense Ministry's legal department is considering swapping Chapters II and III on the pocket card around. This means that the chapter, "Use of Military Force to Complete a Mission" would be placed ahead of the chapter, "Use of Military Force in Self-Defense" -- which, one assumes, would mean that the former becomes more important. Additionally, to avoid future misunderstandings, examples will be included to illustrate to soldiers when they are permitted to use lethal force.

    Another issue being discussed is whether the guideline in Section II, No. 4 should be amended. The current wording states that defensive measures can be taken if an attack is "imminent." The words could be changed to read that defensive measures can be taken "if there is evidence of an approaching attack."

    When the Bundeswehr got into a gun battle in Chahar Dara two weeks ago, some soldiers thought that they had to wait until they were shot at before they could fight back. Essentially they turned themselves into targets -- and this is exactly the kind of confusion the German military wants to eliminate.
    The tankers were bombed in Sep 2009 - the theories for engagement appeared to be "hot pursuit" or prevention of the tankers' use in future attacks. See posts #105, Another Incident, and #106, Cross-reference & comments, for links to the tanker bombing incident (and Wiki, Kunduz airstrike).

    The Jul 2009 Der Spiegel article has a quote by Oberst Klein, who was responsible for the decision to bomb the tankers.

    Winfried Nachtwei, the German Green Party's parliamentary expert on defense, said it was reasonable to amend the pocket card if it meant that German soldiers can better defend themselves. "But," he argued, "we must be careful not to be drawn into a whirlpool of escalation. It would be counterproductive to end up looking like we are hunting the Taliban, nor would that be compatible with our mandate. Anyone who thinks you can simply clean up out there is out of touch with reality. You can actually get further over three cups of tea in Afghanistan."

    Part 2: 'We Will Strike Back with all Necessary Force'

    However soldiers in Kunduz told a different tale. "We will strike back with all necessary force," said Colonel Georg Klein, 48, commander of the field camp.

    Combat has become routine for German soldiers stationed in Kunduz. After returning to the camp, the men mentioned their "TICs," or "troops in contact" (military jargon for enemy contact) almost casually. For them, requesting American "Reaper" drones to fire at booby traps is just common practice now.

    Anyway, clearly not all the soldiers are unnerved by the finer legal details of combat. On May 7, in view of a German convoy, a number of Afghan fighters jumped off their motorcycles and went into combat position. But before they could fire their rockets and assault rifles, the Bundeswehr troops opened fire on them, killing at least two.

    "What happened afterwards gave the troops a sense of security," said Klein. Instead of launching an investigation, as would have been the case in the past, the public prosecutor's office in Potsdam, near Berlin, concluded that the soldiers had acted in self-defense. Klein and his men see this as setting a precedent. "Soldiers need courage in the field, what they certainly don't need is fear of a public prosecutor," noted one officer.
    A further change in Germany's Astan position occured in Feb 2010, from The Intelligence Daily, German army given green light to kill civilians in Afghanistan:

    February 17, 2010

    in Analysis, Defense

    By Peter Schwarz

    (WSWS) — The German government has now reclassified its military mission in Afghanistan as intervening in a civil war or, as they say in legal jargon, a “non-international armed conflict.” This was announced by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle (Free Democratic Party—FDP) on Wednesday in a government statement to the Bundestag (parliament). Previously, the government had described the Afghan intervention as a stabilization operation to assist with peacekeeping.

    The recasting of the mission has far-reaching legal consequences. In a civil war, international criminal law applies and not, as hitherto, the German criminal code and police law. Before the reclassifying of the conflict, German soldiers could, in theory, only make use of firearms in exceptional circumstances, such as in self-defence. International criminal law is much more lenient, and even tolerates the killing of uninvolved civilians if this is proportionate to the expected “military advantage.”

    Now, German soldiers who shoot Afghan civilians must no longer reckon with an automatic investigation by the state prosecutor. The latter only needs to be involved if the killing is “disproportionate,” although this term is defined very vaguely. Although this reclassification does not give the Bundeswehr carte blanche to kill civilians indiscriminately, the threshold has been significantly lowered. The risk that a soldier could be held criminally responsible for killing an innocent bystander is now much lower. (much more in article).
    As to this source (WSWS), I note that it is the voice of the "International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)"; but the basic facts are confirmed in the Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany Finally Acknowledges Civil War in Afghanistan (trans). The point of this paragraph is that the same facts and events give rise to very different headlines and narratives, dependent on political view.

    So, both Germany and the US have had some problems in deciding on the rules that should apply to irregular warfare.

    Regards

    Mike

    PS - mendel: you're making too much of a sentence which explicitly spoke of a possible ROE policy, which is posited to be quite restrictive and require higher-level approval for certain uses of force. But, if you want that hypothetical to be "polemic phrasing", who am I to dissuade you.

    I'd consider the WSWS headline, "German army given green light to kill civilians in Afghanistan", to be a polemic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    I was trying, in one simplified sentence, to sum up the distinction between Cecil and myself. Of course I know about people who may have combat roles without being armed, but in the incident under discussion, I didn't see any, so I wanted to not split hairs here.

    Your basic arguing point is still that they're combatants because they're close to an RPG, and you presume to correct me on how close. However, my point stands that other than the proximity (and being in a spot where insurgents were expected to be), I see no evidence that could possibly justify labeling all those 11 people insurgents.
    I think that sums up the distinction quite well (i.e., I think they're combatants, you don't). I would dispute the issue being primarily that of proximity (i.e., they're not just crossing the street together, but obviously working together doing something). They were interrupted before they completed it, but it looks to be an ambush primarily designed for a propaganda photo. (Which makes the whole thing look funny to a military observer.) If that's what it is--with the unarmed folks collocated in the ambush site--I can't see any labeling other than "combatant" or "insurgent" being possible. And I still can't see any innocent explanation fitting the known facts. I admit this is problematic if the ROE had allowed an engagement that subsequently turned out to be innocents, but don't see that as happening here.

    (And as an aside, the ROE could also allow engagement if they're all in the same group of known insurgents such as "Mahdi Army" which I think these folks are; but that's irrelevant to this incident as no one cited it as a reason or as something they were thinking about at the time.)

    Cecil, you're reading all sorts of of meanings out of my post that I didn't put in there, and it'd be too cumbersome for me to set all that straight. The "lens flash" is at 6:20:37 Z to 6:20:38 Z in the video.
    From shadows, the camera lens is down sun when pointed at the convoy. There is no flash that could be mistaken for a firing signature (and in any event they don't look very similar and nobody claims that happened). I'm not sure if you're thinking the aircrew thought a shot had already been taken or was merely imminent, but I think from the chatter and vid the latter is correct. The aircrew missed several things, but I don't think they misconstrued a shot that wasn't there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I have only skimmed this thread and cannot find a reference to the commentary on Matt Armstrong's blogsite:http://mountainrunner.us/2010/04/wikileaks.html which includes references to a 'rebuttal video'.

    Hat tip to Zenpundit:
    I didn't find it very useful. I'd already seen all the "context" it pointed out, and the claims of editing are fairly weak, since WL provided the full video (and I mostly ignored the inflammatory WL commentary anyway). Also, the WL running trancript makes mistakes in several places, but the one correction made in the rebuttal (for "f***ing pr*ck") wasn't one of them.

  8. #148
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    Default Information War Awaking??

    http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/...html?ref=world

    Not soon enough for these comments by the SEC DEF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    Your basic arguing point is still that they're combatants because they're close to an RPG, and you presume to correct me on how close.
    That is not my basic theory. That is your hyperbole about my basic theory. You're fixating on proximity as if it's the only factor, or the deciding factor. The deciding factor, in this case, is the voluntary grouping and cooperation. Again, the unarmed men aren't simply walking near the guys with the weapons, they're walking with them. By your reading, if there were a guy with an RPG standing in a crowded market, I would be fine with classifying the bystanders around him as insurgents, based on their proximity. But I'm not. I would classify such bystanders as bystanders. Proximity to a weapon is not the only, and certainly not the deciding, factor in determining who may or may not be classified as an insurgent.

    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    However, my point stands that other than the proximity (and being in a spot where insurgents were expected to be), I see no evidence that could possibly justify labeling all those 11 people insurgents. Give me a scenario where all of these 11 people have a role in a combat operation that involves 2 RPG and a Kalashnikov, and I'll believe you're not employing a double standard. Until then, please accept that some of those were in fact civilian noncombatants.
    The unarmed men could easily be assigned as scouts, lookouts, and spotters. They and the men with the weapons travel as a group, and if eyes on the group's target are required, some of these men split off and do it. If they were armed, they'd draw attention to themselves; unarmed, they're more free to move around and gather information. That's just a theory, of course, but one that fits the requirements you laid out.

    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    You come across as if your "different method of identifying targets" means "anyone who looks hostile to me is a target", and I'm sure that's not what you want to say. So what other method than "they've got a weapon and are aiming it at people" (and yes, that would include IEDs), or that they are directly supporting people who do, do you want to use?
    I would base it on behavior. Pointing a weapon is one behavior. Acting in concert with people who point weapons is another behavior.

  10. #150
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    Stephen Colbert actually asks some of the tough questions you would've liked to have heard from NBC or the NY Times...

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-col...julian-assange
    Brant
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    Military news and views at GrogNews

    “their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of ‘rights’… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers 1959

    Play more wargames!

  11. #151
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    Default A curious observation...

    From MountainRunner's post:
    The "rebuttal" video was removed from YouTube for "violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines." The cause of action: "graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed in YouTube videos." The "rejection notice" at right was sent by someone close to the "rebuttal". Neither Collateral Murder nor the unedited video have been removed from YouTube.
    Elsewhere in this thread others have raised the (valid) question "how many insurgents did we create that day?" Whatever figure answers that, it's lower by far than the number created by the release of this video (a true global sensation) nearly three years later. Since any greater number increases Wikileaks' chances of getting more snuff porn for future audience enjoyment I suspect they'd call that a "win".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greyhawk View Post
    From MountainRunner's post: Since any greater number increases Wikileaks' chances of getting more snuff porn for future audience enjoyment I suspect they'd call that a "win".
    Well put.

  13. #153
    Council Member Greyhawk's Avatar
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    Default The Big Picture

    As for context, here's a bit more. I'm going to go "bigger picture" here. Elsewhere in this thread are links to David Finkel's observations on events of the day, he's done a fine job of providing that context from the perspective of a reporter embedded with the guys on the ground.

    Some very basic stuff - apologies to the old guard but this post has obviously attracted newcomers (and welcome aboard) and probably a significant number of non-member visitors. We tend to forget that not everyone knows the very basic stuff we know. (I hereby acknowledge that nothing that follows can't be argued on semantic and other points, and that any effort to attempt what I'm about to attempt will not be met with universal agreement, but here goes.)

    This event occurred in July, 2007, a month that (in hindsight) represents a demonstrable turning point in the war in Iraq. Full "surge" operations only began in mid-June of that year - after the last of the surge brigades (including "mine") arrived in May.

    There's a misconception regarding the surge - that we had unpacked a shiny new approach to Iraq from a box delivered earlier that year. There's truth to that, but it's more accurate to say we were building on lessons learned - from Tal Afar to Ramadi (and greater Anbar) and elsewhere through the previous four years in Iraq. While much subsequent attention has been given to the effective violence reduction methods adopted later in those battles (for simplicity I'll say the "hold" and "build" phases) - including the Awakening Movement - the more neglected (in polite discussion) "clear" phase preceded both in all cases. ("Clear" can also be described as heavy kinetic operations, if you'd like, or simply "war" or "combat".)

    There are veterans of those particular campaigns on this board, I'll leave it to them to offer any suggestions how to avoid that initial combat phase in future operations. (Cav Guy could, I'm certain, describe the "welcome" his guys received from some of the locals in Ramadi that preceded the awakening there...)

    But even before that, the Telegraph's December, 2005 story on Tal Afar was headlined "Iraqis in former rebel stronghold now cheer American soldiers." Excerpt follows:
    Tal Afar was the site of the largest military operation of 2005, when 8,000 US and Iraqi troops reclaimed it from armed groups.

    It has since been used to test a new strategy of "clear, hold, build", in which areas would be purged of insurgents and then rejuvenated to win support from local people, before being handed over to the Iraqi security forces...

    While many of the citizens of Fallujah still eke out their existence in the ruins of their former homes, in Tal Afar the streets are full of building sites. New sewers have been dug and the fronts of shops, destroyed in the US assault, were replaced within weeks. Sunni police have been hired and 2,000 goats were even distributed to farmers.

    More remarkably, the approach of an American military convoy brings people out to wave and even clap, something not seen since the invasion of spring 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

    But the success in Tal Afar only highlights the problems of replicating it elsewhere.

    The strategy will require more troops, which is politically unacceptable right now in America, given growing public doubts about the war.
    So, from "fronts of shops, destroyed in the US assault" to "cheers" - to oversimplify with a cliche: from broken eggs come omelets. And from there we see a bit of late-2005 negativity - "too bad there aren't enough troops to accomplish this on a larger scale."

    I'll skip the reasoning, but will also emphasize that "The strategy will require more troops, which is politically unacceptable right now in America" is exactly right.

    And it was "unacceptable" a year and half later, too, but we did it.


    Vertical red lines on the (hopefully familiar) charts above mark July, 2007.

    I absolutely do not mean to imply that events of this particular day were a "turning point" - nor do I mean to excuse "unlawful" behavior where any might have occurred (for the record, I see none on the part of the Americans involved in this particular firefight - but there have been many other examples where it did occur, was reported - often as not by fellow soldiers - and prosecuted). Again, see Finkel's accounts of the day for an account of the day (including an alarm red for incoming as the soldiers formed their convoy at dawn). I offer this broader context as an indication of effects of the larger effort of which this was one small part.
    Last edited by Greyhawk; 04-14-2010 at 04:14 PM. Reason: corrected images

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    Thank you, Cecil and mfbox, I understand better now where you're coming from.

    Quote Originally Posted by motorfirebox View Post
    The deciding factor, in this case, is the voluntary grouping and cooperation.
    The witnesses said that people clustered around the press, which another journalist confirms tends to happen there (I think it happens pretty much anywhere in the world when a camera crew turns up). That would explain the grouping, and tbh I don't see much evidence of organized cooperation in the video, much less cooperation with armed combatants.

    It comes down to what one wants to believe, I guess.

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    Default Eyewitnesses

    I'm underwhelmed by the witnesses interviewed by Rick Rowley:

    AMY GOODMAN: The video is from the July 12th, 2007 attack on Iraqi civilians by US troops, released Monday by the website WikiLeaks.org.

    Well, independent journalists Rick Rowley and David Enders were on the scene the very next day in 2007 and filed this exclusive report for Democracy Now!

    RICK ROWLEY: We came to the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad one day after a US attack helicopter strike that killed twelve Iraqis, including a journalist and a driver working with Reuters. The US military claimed that they were under attack from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire and that all of the dead, except for the two Reuters employees, were insurgents. But local residents showed us the remains of a burnt-out van spattered with blood and told us a different story.

    WITNESS 1: [translated] The helicopter came yesterday from there and hovered around. Then it came right here where a group of people were standing. They didn’t have any weapons or arms of any sort. This area doesn’t have armed insurgents. They destroyed the place and shot at people, and they didn’t let anyone help the wounded.

    WITNESS 2: [translated] I swear to God it was helicopters that attacked us. These people are all witnesses. They attacked us twice, not once.

    RICK ROWLEY: Another resident went on to describe what happened to the man who tried to help the wounded.

    WITNESS 3: [translated] The driver went to carry the injured, who had been shot in front of his eyes. While he was going to pick them up, the pilot of the helicopter kept flying above, watching the scene. They started firing at the wounded and the dead. The driver and the two children were also there. The helicopter continued shooting until none of the bodies were moving.

    RICK ROWLEY: We asked the crowd of people what might have prompted the attack, and they said that when the journalist arrived, residents quickly gathered around him.

    WITNESS 2: [translated] The group of civilians had gathered here because people need cooking oil and gas. They wanted to demonstrate in front of the media and show that they need things like oil, gas, water and electricity. The situation here is dramatically deteriorating. The journalists were walking around, and then the Americans started shooting. They started shooting randomly and targeted peaceful civilians from the neighborhood.

    WITNESS 3: [translated] There were children in the car. Were they carrying weapons? There were two children.

    WITNESS 2: [translated] Do we help the wounded or kill them? They killed all the wounded and drove over their bodies. Everyone witnessed it. And the journalist was among those who was injured, and the armored vehicle drove over his body.

    WITNESS 3: [translated] The US forces, who call themselves “friendly” forces, were telling us on speakers that they were here to protect and help us. We heard those words very clearly. But what we saw was the opposite of that. We demand the American Congress and President Bush supervise their soldiers’ actions in Iraq.

    RICK ROWLEY: For Democracy Now!, this is Rick Rowley and Dave Enders with Big Noise Films.
    The point is that there were weapons (we know that); but according to witness #1: "They didn’t have any weapons or arms of any sort. This area doesn’t have armed insurgents." And, per witness #2: "They started shooting randomly and targeted peaceful civilians from the neighborhood."

    The van also seemed to have been in close proximity to the action ab initio - per witness #3: "The driver went to carry the injured, who had been shot in front of his eyes."

    Instead of denying the presence of any armed Iraqis, those witnesses would have been more credible if they admitted the weapons and claimed the armed men were part of the "Neighborhood Watch". Of course, depending on the section of Baghdad, the "neighborhood watch" might have been part of a DTO (Designated Terrorist Organization) - a hostile force under the ROEs.

    The Democracy Now webpage leads into another interview, that of Josh Stieber, described as:

    Josh Stieber, former member of Bravo Company 2-16, the company involved in the 2007 US helicopter shooting in Baghdad. He left the military as a conscientious objector last year and is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
    As a CO, one would expect that Stieber would have very strong moral and ethical objections to the violence (harm) shown in the video. He does express those, but here is his analysis about what went down viewed from a military standpoint:

    AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Josh Stieber in Washington, DC, a veteran of the company involved in the July 2007 shooting of twelve Iraqi civilians in the video released by WikiLeaks. He left the military as a conscientious objector last year and is a member of Iraqi Veterans Against the War.

    Your reaction when you saw this videotape, Josh?

    JOSH STIEBER: When I first saw it, I was, you know, kind of shocked that I recognized exactly what it was. And then, as I watched it a second time and then started to read about some of the reactions from it, I guess I was also surprised a little bit by kind of the nature of the conversations, because, you know, again, not to morally justify what happened—and, you know, as a conscientious objector, obviously I disagreed with our tactics—but I think the statements that have been put out by the military and by Secretary Gates yesterday have reaffirmed that what happened was by no means unusual.

    So I guess the nature of the conversation, I think, is the really important thing to focus on here, in that, you know, the easy thing and maybe the natural thing to do would be to instantly judge or criticize the soldiers in this video, and again, not to justify what they did, but militarily speaking, they did exactly what they were trained to do. So I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that if we are shocked by this video—which, again, it is a very shocking video—if we’re shocked by this video, then we need to be asking questions of the larger system, because, again, this is how these soldiers were trained to act.
    ....
    JOSH STIEBER: I guess that is an important thing that I think needs to be considered with that video, is that, again, by no means morally justifying what happened, but I think just the seventeen-minute WikiLeaks clip is taking things a little bit out of context in what was going on that day, was that the troops on the ground were searching house to house, and the helicopters were assigned to keep watch over them, and so part of that is to eliminate any threat that comes up. That was, you know, what we were trained with regularly in the military.

    And again, I would take so much of this just back to the training that we had. And one thing that I think about is one exercise. Some of my leaders would ask the younger soldiers what they would do if somebody were to pull a weapon in a marketplace full of unarmed civilians. And not only did your response have to be that you would return fire, even if you knew it was going to hurt innocent civilians, because you’re trying aim at the person with the weapon, the answer had to be yes, but it had to be an instantaneous yes. So, again, these things are just hammered into you through military training. So that’s, you know, the background of what the people in the helicopter had in their minds, so that they saw this as a threat.

    And actually, looking at the video myself, you know, based on my training, what I saw in the video of what the people on the ground were holding in their hands, whether or not it was a camera, but again, from my military training, I would have, you know, been told that that was a military—militarily justifiable thing. And, you know, top sources have confirmed this. But again, if you watch the forty-minute video, they actually recovered an RPG shell, so I think there’s evidence that there were weapons involved. And I think, you know, the conversation has to be that the people in the helicopter and the people in the military were responding exactly as they had been trained.
    Regards

    Mike

  16. #156
    Council Member Wargames Mark's Avatar
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    I think your link was clobbered by a filter. Could you post the author, name, publication and year of the article, so it can be Googled to get its url.
    Title: Training America's Strategic Corporals
    Author: LTC David Bolgiano

    Don't know the author, but it was recommended to me when I was working on a scenario based on the Haditha incident, as a way to understand the difficulty of applying criminal sanctions to battlefield decisions.
    There are three kinds of people in this world:
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    Default Thanks, Mark

    Must be this computer and network which doesn't show the link in your post. My computer at work yesterday, different network, had it loud and clear.

    Cheers

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by mendel View Post
    Thank you, Cecil and mfbox, I understand better now where you're coming from.
    Thank you as well. I think I understand better both where you're coming from and my own mind as well, which is one of the happy results of hashing out things like this . . . and it's no sin to agree to disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99
    Instead of denying the presence of any armed Iraqis, those witnesses would have been more credible if they admitted the weapons and claimed the armed men were part of the "Neighborhood Watch".
    The problem with that is that two RPGs just doesn't fit. I'm trying to use their statement to poke holes in my own theory, but the only logical conclusion is that there's no good explanation, so they lied about it.

    [IVAW member Josh Steiber]And I think, you know, the conversation has to be that the people in the helicopter and the people in the military were responding exactly as they had been trained.
    I'd note the familiar antiwar meme that tries to run a variant of the Nuremberg defense on every supposed war crime (i.e., to shift the blame from supposed perpetrators to training or higher headquarters). I'd submit this is a logical impossibility: higher headquarters might be guilty, but if there's an atrocity, the shooters cannot be innocent.

    The truly interesting thing about this ongoing effort is the focus on propaganda. From the photogs' apparent command of the initial incident to the leaked video years later, the enemy's view of the schwerpunkt is public opinion. I both think they're right, and that we're helping them entirely too much. (With "we" defined very loosely.) I was also a bit disappointed in Gates's response, because while it's perfectly apropos to point up the flaws in the manipulated video, the blame for the leak of the raw footage has to rest with DoD. And I completely agree with Greyhawk that the vid is far worse than the original incident for propaganda purposes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cecil Turner View Post
    The truly interesting thing about this ongoing effort is the focus on propaganda. From the photogs' apparent command of the initial incident to the leaked video years later, the enemy's view of the schwerpunkt is public opinion.
    This video looks more like the inevitable accident of a strategy that attempted to suppress an internal conflict with the military instead of with intelligence and police only (with the military merely in the background to keep the enemy from rising into the conventional battle phase).

    I personally believe that the approach (I know I simplified it here) was wrong and it's important to learn the lesson that internal conflicts ("insurgencies") should be handled with intelligence and police methods, not with attack helicopters circling over a city and firing with autocannons at mere suspects.


    Another lesson is that an army tasked to provide security in some place must not value the life and health of its soldiers (much) higher than life and health of the normal inhabitants of that place.

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    one can't help but wonder how much the conversation of the crew on the recording colors the interpretation of it. would we appraise it any differently if they had shown greater remorse over the children being shot? would there be a different argument if there had been less banter and a more workmanlike discussion of the ongoing attack?

    sorry - just a stray thought I had based on a conversation here at work...
    Brant
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