Re: The importance of target recognition
Date: 3 April 2003
Sir - The reason for the American forces loosing off a variety of ordnance at their allies is simple. Poor training.
I spent many years of my time in the Royal Air Force as a target recognition instructor. It is a requirement of all aircrew to reach and maintain a high standard of recognition as part of their categorisation. It was a pass/fail subject when I taught it.
Fifty per cent of the recognition course concentrated on "blue" forces, which then meant all Nato kit. On some of my courses, there would be American exchange officers, here to fly with our squadrons for a couple of years.
They were always astounded at the level to which we taught recognition. "At home," they would say, "we are told there's a box of slides in the back room if you feel like looking at them, but they're only some Russian stuff."
If you are not taught to recognise equipment of whatever sort - land, sea, or air - in the adrenaline rush of war, it will all look the same - a target.
M E Turner, Rochester, Kent
Yeee har, yo, somathing isa movin', yee har, lets blow it away, yee har...
As a callow youth, myself and an ex BRIXMIS tour NCO used to run, 3 days intensive Foreign Equipment Recognition training as part of course qualification for certain LTMO's and FACs.
No FER pass = No LTMO / FAC ticket.
Army GLO's with our own CAS squadrons used to do similar stuff.
Given the weight of technical emphasis that goes in to aircrew selection, platform operation, positioning and weapon delivery, surely 3 days FER refresher training prior to each deployment should be a mandatory aircrew safety requirement?
Surely an UK FER instructor at each FOB and carrier is not going to break the defence budget!!!
PS: Why are the insides of the back of Iraqi Ural 375s always painted blue??
Recognition training is this case would have been of very little use as looking at the pictures it seems to have been a convoy of civilian vehicles including the US stretched pickups. The Kurdish troops will look from the air no different from the enemy. A very sad mistake and unfortunately the pilot will have to live with that for the rest of his life, my sympathy goes out to all concerned
One thing does stick in my mind though was when I listened to this live this morning John Simpson must have picked up the phone strait after the explosion yet in the back ground you can clearly hear people creaming and US troops asking if every body was ok.
It's a bit like watching the old footage of the mortar attacks on Sarajevo - as some poor saps life blood leaks into the dirt. Gruesome footage and you just want to grab the vulture doing the filming and snot them. "THESE PEOPLE ARE DYING - DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR REPORT - HELP SAVE THEIR LIVES"
My big issue with journalists is that they appear to have no morals regarding downing camera's and lending a hand, some kind of moral high ground or whatever. I count two as friends and both of them have explained in some detail that they wouldn't be caught lending a hand to anyone anywhere where they could be seen to be combative.
As long as they know they'll get the same in return.... that's fine.
Hmmm..... saw a TV crew on CNN or Sky (can't remember which) who did just that.
Americans shoot up a car approaching a VCP, then refuse to go forward and help the casualties out of fear of suicide bombers. The TV crew's translator then does the decent thing; goes forward, fetches the kid who's got a headwound, gets her back to the VCP who start the First Aid thing......
I hear ya but I maintain a sceptical view. Certain exceptions exist, whether it's Kate Aidy turning the perception of the Serbs. John(?) ? who smuggled the kid out of Bosnia but generally I can't see it with the majority. Perhaps the cameracrew are more likely by the journo's?