Saturday, September 17, 2016

All those Ay-rabs look the same!

American pilots have earned a reputation -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Syria -- for being quick on the draw but sloppy on the aim. On 17 April 2002, "friendly fire" from the USAF killed four Canadian soldiers near Kandahar, Afghanistan. US Air National Guard Major Harry Schmidt dropped a laser-guided 500-lb bomb from his F-16 on the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry regiment which was conducting a night firing exercise. Major Schmidt was charged with negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, and dereliction of duty.

He blamed the "incident" on his use of "go pills" (authorized stimulant drugs), combined with the "fog of war". He was found guilty of the third charge (only) and a negative comment was entered on his permanent record. The Canucks stayed in Afghanistan for another ten years or so, but were noted for for their propensity to duck and cover at the sound of approaching jets.

Fast forward a dozen years or so to the fight against The Enemy Which Cannot Be Named -- its initials are IS or ISIS or ISIL -- in, errr, Iraq and Syria. The Canadians sent a half dozen of their aging but still airworthy CF-18s, but no ground troops, on the theory (Walt supposes) that if there were going to be any similar "incidents", it would be better to be on the bombing end than the incoming end. The RCAF flyboys flew missions for about a year without killing any allies... or any Islamic terrorists... or anybody. They did succeed in hitting a couple of dump trucks and what might have been an oil tank. Or not. Then, this past March, they went home, leaving the air war against the jihadis to the Americans... and the Russians... and, errr, the Syrian Air Force.

A ceasefire in the civil war between the Syrian government and assorted rebels went into effect (more or less) on Monday. It was clearly understood, though, that air attacks on the jihadis would continue. So it was that the USAF (or Air National Guard -- who knows... planes with a white star) dove down on a collection of hovels called Deir al-Zour, where the bad guys -- Syrian troops -- were said to be battling the even worse guys (ISIS).

But you know how it is. The damned Ay-rabs all look the same. They wear those same shit-brindle clothes and have rags on their heads. And then there's the "fog of war". Turns out the American pilots couldn't tell them apart and... ooops!... damn!.... did it again!!! According to the Russian army, the Yankees killed 62 Syrian government soldiers before calling a halt to the attack. An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, convened by Russia, is discussing the crisis. Meanwhile, a spokesthingy for the Obama administration expressed "regret" for the "unintentional loss of life".

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