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Old 04-27-2010, 11:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
For anyone interested, I found a forty-minute-long version of this video.
Unfortunately, WikiLeaks opted to excise about 20 minutes of footage from even the "full" version you linked. I'll go into the specifics of what "went missing" later in this post.

Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
if it takes them cracking jokes to keep them from going insane, go for it. If none of us have ever been fired upon before, ever feared for our lives the same way the guys on the ground there do, how can we judge the situation?
I have been on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been under fire. You're pretty much right with your assessment of what some people are calling "callousness". If the Apache crew hadn't blithely deflected their unintentional injury of a child in order to think about it more deeply back at base, and had instead got all emotional and guilty about it, they would have had a very hard time fulfilling their overwatch function, and US soldiers would likely have died. It's a coping mechanism, and it works.

Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
On the other hand, from what I understand the strike was called in by nearby ground forces, who believed they were under fire. From when I watched the video, I thought that I saw a weapon in the hands of some of the group;
The soldiers on the ground had been under sporadic fire from small arms and RPGs since dawn of that morning. They were clearing their sector, with two Apaches as support. The WikiLeaks video neatly highlights the reporter's gear, but fails to indicate exactly how close the insurgents and reporters were to soldiers on the ground.

The insurgents (yes, they were insurgents, not civilians; fighting had been going on since morning, and any large group of people on the ground did not consist of civilians) were clearly armed, but WikiLeaks diverts attention away from this by highlighting the reporter's gear. Some proof, direct from the video:

That's an AK and an RPG right there, and the others in the group, excepting the reporters, were similarly armed. When coalition soldiers are only a block or so away, yes, that is cause to engage.

The reporter looking furtively from behind a building with his telephoto lens is clearly not holding an RPG when you see the video in a non-stressful situation, but a look at the image he took at that moment, and what he was aiming at, shows why it was imperative that a decision to fire be made quickly:

Unfortunately, the reporters chose to walk around with insurgents, near a firefight, and without wearing any identifying clothing. No, just cameras aren't enough, since the insurgents love to take pictures of dead soldiers for their propaganda.

Originally Posted by Litofsky View Post
Towards the end of the link I just posted, you'll note that when the Apache opens fire with the Hellfire missiles, it takes an utter disregard for civilian presence around the target building. I clearly saw men and women walking by who were promptly engulfed in the flames of the rocket. On that account, putting not one, not two, but three missiles into one building is just plain reckless and contemptible, to make no note of the gunners firing on a van picking up the wounded!
I saw a couple of people engulfed in the sand smoke blown around by the missiles (no one harmed there), and one guy who may have caught the very edge of the blast (not rocket "flames", and most likely non-serious injury judging from where he was), though honestly, what is really reckless and contemptible is a civilian (assuming the man was a civilian) deciding that walking into the middle of a firefight is anything resembling a good idea.

Also, relating to the "utter disregard of civilian presence" (though I can't blame you for not knowing this), the video cuts out 20 minutes of footage before orders to fire the Hellfires come in. A summary from the sworn statement of one of the guys on the ground sheds some light on what happened during those 20 minutes (AIF= Anti-Iraqi Forces = insurgents):
"While team was providing security for H26 at the first engagement area H26 informed the team that they were recieving small arms fire from the S/SW and wanted to team to recon the area for AIF. CZ18 then located 5xAIF with AK-47's and 1xRPG. Team was given clearance to engage by H26. I then observed a child and some other noncombatants in the vicinity of the AIF so decided to hold off on the engagement until the non-combatants were clear. After the non-combatants were clear CZ18 the engaged the AIF with 20x30mm. There were 2 possible WIA and I observed the individuals run into a large multistory building. The team then searched the area for more AIF. CZ19 reported a red SUV that has possible AIF in it and team followed and observed the vehicle but could not get PID on any weapons. The team then returned to the engagement area. " (So they held fire when they observed children and other civilians, as well as a SUV that may have contained AIF)

As for the van, a van matching that description had been dropping off and picking up enemy personnel the entire day. When the van pulled up, and people jumped out, they attempted to extract weapons and insurgents from the area. Perhaps they were just good samaritans, but they were doing something that an insurgent vehicle had been doing the entire day, in a vehicle matching its description. It is tragic that children happened to be in the van, and I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that US troops hauled *** to get those wounded kids to a hospital, where they were treated.

And no, I wasn't part of the 2-16th or whatever unit the Apaches came from. Hell, I wasn't even in the same ASCC, so this isn't some misguided attempt to give some buddies a good name. I just hate seeing people's opinions colored by spin and lack of context.

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