L. Neil Smith's
Number 182, July 15, 2002


Friendly Firestorms
by Manuel Miles

Special to TLE

The uproar over the recent "friendly fire" attack on Canadian troops in Afghanistan by their USAF allies has finally begun to subside. This is no doubt due to the inevitable finding that the pilot, and only the pilot, was "to blame". Well, one has to blame somebody, and why not the only party who is unable to defend himself in the matter? Just as Lt Calley was found to be "solely responsible" for the massacre he committed in My Lai village while his superior officers were completely exonerated, Major Schmidt is going to pay the piper for the tunes played by his masters in the Pentagon and the White House.

I don't wish to be misunderstood; Major Schmidt is responsible for his own actions, and most particularly for being part of an imperial military mission which seeks to install a puppet government in its newest colonial acquisition. He should have stayed at home and protected his own country rather than fly about looking for Afghan weddings to bomb.

That said, nobody had told him that there would be Canadians in the area, running about and firing guns in a silly attempt to justify their presence in a country where they had absolutely no business being. All he knew was that there was a tremendous amount of ground fire beneath his aircraft, and that in his business ground fire from unidentified sources was 90% likely to be directed at said aircraft. (The odds may be even higher when one considers that he was flying over a country in which the "enemy" is able to pop up anywhere at any time.)

Now let's consider that if he had been under fire from Taliban forces and he had hesitated (any longer than he did), the odds of his being brought down by a Stinger antiaircraft missile were real good, too. In his position who would not have bombed until the firing was "suppressed"?

The crocodile tears shed by every hypocritical Canadian politician (pardon the redundancy) about the Canadian soldiers who were killed is asinine even by contemporary Canadian standards. A cursory glance at military operations since the dawn of time reveals that "friendly fire" casualties will always be taken, both by soldiers and the truth. That is something that one can depend upon to always occur in the "fog of war", and the situation has only worsened with the introduction of aircraft into the madness.

In World War II, for instance, the Allied forces had almost total air superiority in France as they pushed out of their Normandy beachheads. Yet Canadian, American and British troops routinely fired on any airplane that came within range. The "official" histories tend to overlook this fact, but the sad truth is that every P-38 and Spitfire and Mustang in the sky had the same problem: how to tell friend from foe while flying at high speed over an area in which the "front line" had usually shifted since the pilots' last briefing. In practice, it was impossible. They fired and bombed what they thought or feared were enemy forces, and were wrong as often as not. As a consequence, the troops they were supposedly supporting fired at them just as much as the German forces did, and that got known by the pilots, too. The "Jabbos" were hated and feared by both sides.

In Viet Nam too, friendly fire casualties were endemic. The policy of "free fire zones" didn't help the situation, either. In those areas considered to be "friendly to the enemy", US airplane and helicopter pilots and ground troops were told to kill every living thing they could. Often the pilots mistook US forces for "Charlie" or the NVA. To this day, many Viet Nam combat veterans go through hell every time a helicopter flies over.

The element of friendly fire casualties is just one more of the "collateral damages" of war. The generals and politicians know this, and it figures into their evil calculations. It's about time that the Canadian people wake up and realise that this is one of the prices of doing the dirty work of our imperial masters. If we really don't like it, I would suggest that we organise against it and demand that the puppet regime in Ottawa cease taking part in the bombing of weddings in Afghanistan and hospitals in Serbia.

This pathetic whining doesn't accomplish a bloody thing.


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