2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Jana Herbert <reininthunder@earthlink.net>
Date: 23 Apr 2003 19:46:59 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Fw: Re: 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 concerns.

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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