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News :: International
Afghanistan: British Army sniper killed by US fighter jet
by Mark Duell
09 Jul 2014
British Army sniper killed by US fighter jet 'after pilot attacked wrong site by mistake after failing to enter co-ordinates into his on-board computer'
Click on image for a larger version
Click on image for a larger version
Click on image for a larger version
A British Army sniper was fatally shot by a US fighter jet in Afghanistan after a mistake by the pilot meant he attacked the wrong site, an inquest heard today. Forces on the ground had called in air support after being attacked by insurgents in Helmand province. However, as well as having difficulty identifying landmarks when speaking to ground troops, the F18 pilot failed to enter coordinates for the strike.
As the pilot swooped to attack, Private John Howard, 23, was hit as he took cover in a ditch and died instantly, the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was told. New Zealand-born Private Howard, known as Jack, was serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Reconnaissance Force when he was killed. The force had been sent to the Nad-e Ali district of Afghanistan to target ‘compounds of interest’ which could be linked to insurgent activity. But on the day of the soldier’s death the weather deteriorated and three groups were sent from their base to hold a reassurance meeting with local elders, rather than carry out manoeuvres.
As this took place at around 12pm on December 5, 2010, one of the platoons came under fire and attempts were made to perform a pincer movement and repel the attackers.
Major Frank Reeves told the inquest: ‘Two platoon couldn’t move from their position because they were pinned down and we were trying to do a manoeuvre to relieve some of that.’
As the battle continued, the insurgents were forced back to an area identified as compound 15, about 100 metres (328ft) from another building where the British forces had made their way to. They received intelligence from an unmanned aircraft that insurgents were in compound 15 and agreed to call in air support.
Major Reeves said: ‘A strafing run was suggested and I was immediately very happy with that.’
An American F18 which had been circling the area was called in to carry out the attack, but a fault meant the pilot could not share his map with the ground commander, making it harder to be sure they were looking at the same point.
Commander Paul Tremelling told the inquest this would not necessarily have been a problem had the pilot and ground commander established clear markers on the ground so they both knew what they were talking about, which they did not.
However Commander Tremelling said the biggest mistake was the pilot’s failure to enter coordinates for the attack into his onboard computer.
‘You would always, always, always put that grid into the machine,’ he said, adding that he may not have done so because he thought his targeting pod was faulty. ‘In that situation what he should have done, had he thought there was an error in the equipment, it should have been the first thing he mentioned,’ said Commander Tremelling. Commander Tremelling said it was not clear why the pilot did not realise friendly troops were within a danger zone of 60 metres from the intended target, as he should have seen them as he approached. He said: ‘I don’t know why he didn’t say "by my reckoning friendlies are 40 metres away".’ Commander Tremelling said the pilot appeared to think the British troops were in a completely different compound because he and the ground commander were not talking about the same site. He said: ‘They have formed a mistaken belief that they’re both looking at the same battle.’
On the ground, the troops took cover, with Private Howard and a few others in a ditch near the compound that the rest of the group were in.
Major Reeves said: ‘We were quite buoyed because we knew we were taking it to the enemy at this stage. We were almost looking forward to getting amongst it.’ At that point the jet fired 205 rounds into the area, hitting the compound the British troops were in and the ditch. Major Reeves said there was a lot of confusion, dust and burning as they took in the situation.
Outside, Lance Corporal James Appelt, a trained medic, was in the ditch with Private Howard. He said it was clear that the sniper died instantly.
‘I was desperate to do something but I knew I could not do anything for him,’ Lance Corporal Appelt said in evidence. In the air, the pilot, who was described as ‘very experienced’, realised a horrible mistake had been made. Commander Tremelling said at this point the pilot entered the coordinates and the targeting device instantly focused on the compound where the insurgents were thought to be.
There was no further fighting and Private Howard’s body was removed from the scene, with two other injured troops also evacuated.
Coroner David Ridley recorded a narrative verdict into the death of Private Howard. Mr Ridley said although the sharpshooter died as a result of being shot by the jet, communications issues contributed to his death. The coroner described how the pilot indicated that he had identified insurgent forces in one of the compounds.
Mr Ridley said: ‘Unbeknown to the pilot and those on the ground, the pilot had identified compound A [where British troops were].
‘The aircraft attacked at 13.41. However the compound under attack was not compound 15 but was the unmarked compound A. ‘Jack, who had been laying in the ditch just short of the compound along with his comrades, was struck and Jack was instantly killed by one of the rounds.’
Private Howard, who had been deployed in Helmand since September 2010, was officially declared dead at the field hospital at Camp Bastion at 2.57pm. Mr Ridley said: ‘Whilst the cause of Jack's death was the 20mm round fired from the attacking jet plane, communication issues between the forward air controller and pilot directly contributed to the incident.’
The coroner said these included the pilot failing to put attack coordinates into the on-board computer, the lack of video downlink allowing the controller to see what the pilot was looking at and the failure to agree common correlation points so they knew they were talking about the same thing. Mr Ridley offered his condolences to the soldier's family.
Speaking after the inquest, Private Howard's father, Roger, said: ‘We thought it was a very thorough investigation and it certainly answered all our questions and we are grateful that the coroner devoted time to getting to the bottom of what happened
This work is in the public domain
Re: Afghanistan: British Army sniper killed by US fighter jet
by Michael Dickinson
(No verified email address)
11 Jul 2014
Conservative Friends of Israel - The Slime Ministers of Great Britain by MICHAEL DICKINSON
The British Establishment is jittery at the moment. While the public are still gagging in horror at the recent disgusting revelations of necrophilia, paedophelia (and maybe even murder) by the late Sir Jimmy Saville, the peroxide blond pervert DJ and TV celebrity who worked for the BBC for decades, and was a close friend of Prince Charles and several Prime Ministers – along comes another pants-down shocker.
A dossier listing high-up establishment figures as being members of a secret paedophile ring who abused infants in children’s homes in the Eighties has gone missing. Sir Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary at the time, to whom the document was handed, claims ignorance as to what happened to it, and nobody else seems to know either. A comittee is to be set up to investigate its disappearance, headed by an elderly baroness, a relative of an MP who had tried to prevent paedophile ring ministers being named. Objections have been raised as to this honourable lady being the right person to be in charge of the investigation, but she says she’s not stepping down. Meanwhile Lord Brittan has been arrested on an old rape charge.
However, this particular stinking Parliament cess-pit scandal was not the one that was pre-occupying my mind this week (although while walking past the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street I paused to roar “SHAME ON YOU! THE PARTY’S OVER! IT’S ALL OVER, MY FRIEND!”) No, it was another jaw-dropping fact which I had learned that dominated my thoughts – the fact that eighty percent of Tory MPs are members of a nasty racist club called the CFI!
The CFI? It stands for ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’, a group which organizes various fund-raising events in and around Westminster, takes MPs on holiday trips to Israel and lobbies for the interests of that apartheid state. Had you heard of it? I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t, until, prior to heading across town for a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Knightsbridge on Saturday to protest the latest Israeli bombardments on the citizens of Gaza, I serendipitiously googled ‘David Cameron/Israel’ – and made the astonishing (to me) new discovery of the CFI, this majority group of MPs blatantly open in their prejudice against the rights of the people of Palestine.
The British Prime Minister, the Right Honourable David Cameron is a fiercely staunch member of the group, created by former MP Michael Fidler, a committed Zionist, in 1974. At CFI lunch speeches in 2006 and 2010 Cameron said:
“I am proud not just to be a Conservative, but a Conservative Friend of Israel, and I am proud of the key role CFI plays within our party.
In me you have a prime minister whose belief in Israel is indestructable.”
I learned with awe also that Cameron’s fellow Etonian ‘Bullingham Club’ mate, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is also a member of CFI, as well as Home Secretary George (Coke) Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague and the monstrous Iain Duncan Smith. At a CFI dinner former Defense Secretary Liam Fox spoke with breathtaking hypocricy of the shared values of Britain and Israel as being “liberty, tolerance, and free markets.”
I arrived a little late at the demonstration outside the Israel Embassy which was to be held from two till four. It wasn’t exactly huge, a couple of hundred at most, barriered and kettled by uniformed police, but there was vociferous orchestrated chanting of anti-Israel slogans. I asked the organizers if I could make a speech about the CFI, but they said it wouldn’t be heard clearly on their microphone, so instead I taught this song to some (mostly women) volunteers among the crowd, and we sang it with gusto. It goes to the tune of the old Jewish song ‘Hava Nagila’:
“FREE PALESTINIA! FREE PALESTINIA! FREE PALESTINIA! NOW NOW NOW! X 2
UNITE AND LIVE IN PEACE! UNITE AND LIVE IN PEACE! UNITE AND LIVE IN PEACE! NOW NOW NOW! X 2
FREEDOM FOR THE PALESTINIANS! X 4
FREEDOM NOW! X 3
FOR PALESTIIIINIA! …….” (Repeat from the top again and again)
Try it. It’s good.
Finding myself in Parliament Square again yesterday, (I’m living in a hostel for homeless people in central Londonat the moment and I walk around a lot), I stopped on the edge of the lawn across the road from the Houses of Westminster and thought of the swamp of corruption that lurks inside that crenulated edifice, not least the machinations of the CFI.
At the very least there ought to be a CFP – Conservative Friends of Israel– but there is no such organization, and no strong criticism of the brutal inhuman harrassment, arrest, detention, ill-treatment, theft of land and destruction of homes by the Israelis of Palestinian citizens. The Conservative Friends of Israel should examine their consciences and cancel their membership of their cliquish club until a proper just peace settlement acceptable to both Palestinians and Jews has been implemented. What better than one based the golden rule of “Do to others as you would have them do to you”? But then, which government in the world can claim that as their foundation?
I raised my voice and recited as loudly as possible the following chant I’d composed.
“DAVID CAMERON – CFI!
FRIEND OF PALESTINE? NO. NO? WHY?”
I repeated it with the other key names of the group – Johnson, Hague, Duncan Smith and Osborne, then, having noticed that I’d caught the attention of the police guarding the gates, I decided not to stop around too long, and set off for Trafalgar Square.
A guy who had been sitting drinking a beer on the grass got up and approached me.
“Why are you bothering with them? They know all about it. They’re all in it together.”
“Just to let them know that we know,” I replied, eager to be on my way.
“There’s all sorts of other stuff you could shout about,” he said.
“Isn’t there just? Don’t get me started. FRIENDS OF PREDATORY PAEDOPHILES!” I roared at Big Ben, and my heckler scampered back to his place. I headed off on my way up Whitehall.
Oh, the stinking slime!
Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website: http://yabanji.tripod.com/