2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: cpeo <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 22 Apr 2003 14:31:34 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Friendly Fire Ain't
The following response was posted by Charles Douglas to a remark by
anonymous in regard to military training suffering due to environmental

> Lets see now, just how does Anonymous know that none of the 125 US
> combat deaths (and 495 injured) in Iraq weren't caused by some lack of
> realism in
> their training?  I may not agree with all the DoD rhetoric about
> encroachment, but I do believe
> that our soldiers and Marines must train as they will fight.  And that
> doesn't include
> dropping dummy bombs or single-filing across a beach, etc.

At the end of any exercise, the military conducts debriefings for
lessons learned.
I doubt if we, the taxpayers, will see any of the critiques or lessons
learned. Reporters don't get embedded in that review process. Besides,
the war is yesterday's news.

The realism should come from what happened in the real world. What
caused losses? How many friendly fire incidents were there and how could
they have been prevented? How could the objectives have been taken
quicker and at less cost?

How many traffic crashes were there after training exercises? Was end of
exercise scheduled for Friday and the troops were released to the
dangerous highways with civilians for the weekend carnage? Could end of
exercise be scheduled for Wednesday with Thursday release? At least one
day decompression from the stress of the battlefield, even if the
battlefield is simulated, the decompression should be real. Travel at
less congested times.

Scientific American reports some shortcomings of GPS in addition to
jamming. I submit that the shortcoming was not in the technology, but in
the human application. Was friendly fire caused by an itchy trigger
finger? Did the reviewers check the training of that individual? Was the
training to induce a gunner to fire on friendly forces? Something like a
missed radar handoff, or someone reading a map one click off? Or being
spoofed and trusting GPS blindly without a sanity check of looking out
the window. Was that training followed by a critique of how to recognize
when you are the shooter in a friendly fire scenario?

Does the shooter require two sources or at least a confirmation for
release? How well did the troops understand navigation requirements? Why
did they make the wrong turn?

OK, those are immediate things, checking position, locating friendlies,
not driving beyond armed support. But what about long term? After they
leave the battlefield? If they used mines, did they clear the mines? How
much did it cost to clear the mines and what benefit was gained in the
use of mines?

Make a leap of imagination. Maybe the mine was something inadvertent.
Depleted uranium, perchlorate, TCE perhaps. Is it a cost of war to clean
it up? Or is cost of cleanup passed on to an as yet unknown customer?
Customer in the sense that he will pay the price of the remnants of war,
even though he may not get a benefit.

If the troops are trained to fight with no regard for the environment,
we might as well quit. We'll win the battle, but lose the war. There is
a middle ground. At one extreme, we could use atomic, biologic or
chemical weapons. Or at the other end, we could use the threat of
overwhelming power, or even economic warfare. How much business is
France doing in that part of the world? You say you don't want to
discuss France's trade because you need to straighten out those lily
livered pansies that are carping about a few sand fleas?

So much for today's rant. Tomorrow's rant might be about the
vulnerability of petroleum distribution or electrical distribution. But
then a terrorist might be reading this site, so we don't want to talk
about the Achilles' heel.

Charles Douglas does have a valid point, I agree we should review combat
deaths and rank them by cause. We should identify what was missed in
training that may have caused the death. I'll bet Charles a quarter that
small things like turning left instead of right, or not recognizing
friendly fire situations are more of a cause of battle fatalities than
looking out for spotted owls. Or having missed precious training time
for a briefing on caribou.

Somebody said if we don't learn from the lessons of history, we will
only repeat those same mistakes. Concentrating on only the care taken
for environment is misdirecting. We would miss the lack of inducing
friendly fire. We would miss the non combat losses of stress induced
crashes, and family incidents. In short, we would have a scapegoat to
burden with whatever sins were committed and we could feel good about
continuing to do what we have always done. Someone else said it is
insanity to continue doing what you have been doing and still expect
different results.

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