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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 6/29/2002 3:35:03 PM EST
[url]http://www.kfwb.com/news_international.asp?displayOption=&contentGUID={3B4C7483-5ECC-44D0-A333-C2C389399E16}&groupName=KFWB%20Front%20Page%20International%20Headlin­es&siteGUID={3B62BF55-4A93-48E6-A45D-6A495DC423AD}[/url] KFWB NEWS 980 -- ALL NEWS ALL THE TIME Saturday, June 29, 2002 American Pilot Who Mistakenly Bombed Canadians Was Told Not to Fire WASHINGTON (AP) 6.28.02, 1:12p -- The U.S. fighter pilot who mistakenly bombed Canadian troops in Afghanistan had been told to hold his fire shortly before the deadly blunder, an American officer said Friday. The April 18 incident was caused by the F-16 pilot's "failure ... to exercise appropriate flight discipline," said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong. Four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight injured when the American pilot, identified as Maj. Harry Schmidt, dropped a 500-pound, laser-guided bomb on them. DeLong said a U.S. military panel recommended "appropriate disciplinary action" against Schmidt and the unidentified lead pilot of the pair of F-16s involved. The panel also recommended that some members of the pilots' chain of command be disciplined, De Long said. DeLong, second in command at the U.S. Central Command, refused to say what disciplinary actions the panel recommended. The Air Force will decide what discipline will be given, DeLong said. U.S. military officials have not said whether they plan to compensate Canada or the families of the soldiers killed. A parallel Canadian inquiry found that neither pilot knew Canadian troops were holding a training exercise with live ammunition south of Kandahar that night. The U.S. inquiry found the pilot believed he was under attack and was acting in self-defense by dropping the bomb, DeLong said. DeLong refused to say whether U.S. pilots had been told about the Canadian exercise. The bombing caused the Canadian military's first deaths in a combat operation since the Korean War and outraged many Canadians. Both investigations concluded that the Canadian military had properly notified American forces about the training exercise. The two U.S. F-16s were returning from a mission over Afghanistan when the lead pilot saw what he described as fireworks, DeLong said. The pilot thought it was anti-aircraft fire and asked for permission from a U.S. AWACS surveillance plane to investigate. Schmidt, the wingman, asked the AWACS crew for permission to fire his 20mm cannon at the site. The AWACS crew told him to hold his fire and provide more information. Schmidt provided that information and, "declaring self-defense, rolled in on the target," and dropped the bomb that killed the Canadian soldiers, DeLong said. -- continued --
Link Posted: 6/29/2002 3:36:20 PM EST
DeLong refused to give any more details, saying repeatedly that a military investigation of the matter was continuing. Remaining questions about the incident include: --Why the pilots thought they were under attack by anti-aircraft fire. Canadian officials have said their troops did not fire any surface-to-air weapons during the exercise. --Why the pilots were unaware of the Canadian exercise. DeLong would not say whether a failure to tell the pilots about the exercise was one of the command failures identified in the U.S. report. --Whether fatigue may have played a role. Fighters patrolling over Afghanistan have flown missions for 10 hours or longer. Maurice Baril, the retired general who led the Canadian inquiry, said Canadian investigators only were allowed to submit written questions to the two American pilots. "We certainly would have loved to have had the pilots in front of us to talk to them," Baril said at a news conference in Ottawa, Canada's capital. The four soldiers killed in the accident were members of the 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, which is based near Edmonton, Alberta. Schmidt is with the Illinois Air National Guard's 170th Fighter Squadron, based in Springfield, Ill. Schmidt's lawyer released a statement shortly after the incident saying the pilot did not know the ground troops were part of the U.S.-led coalition. "The pilot believes that he properly followed procedures based on the information he had at the time," said the lawyer, Air Force Capt. James Key. ©2002 Radio Web Network. All rights reserved.
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