Reuters access previously censored footage via WikiLeaks.

mark1234 said:
Yes we know there are civilians amongst the group now don't we.

So what you're saying is that it's possible to identify someone as an unlawful combatant even if they're not engaging in combat?
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Gentlemen I think you are willfully misunderstanding each other. The LOAC does prohibit you from attacking civilians but it does not stop you from making a legit attack in which there is a danger of to civilians provided that it is proportionate and necessary to achieve a legitimate aim. The example I recall was if the enemy site an Artillery battery in a populated urban area you have to decide how much of a military necessity it is to knock it out - against how many civ cas you may cause - against can you ignore it.

In this context you would have to decide if risk of killing people who are not enemy (or who do not appear to be) against the risk to you and your mission of not killing the legit targets. That would not just be the direct threat to yourself but the threat they pose to friendly forces.
 
Mark1234, you're taking the wrong perspective. Forget opinion, forget assumptions. Of all the people seen in the street, how many showed evidence that they are likely to be combatants? (Clue - a dishdash is not a uniform).

You could also consider that a lot of non-combatants in Iraq carried weapons for self-defence against bandits, but let's leave that added complication out of the question.
 
smartascarrots said:
mark1234 said:
Yes we know there are civilians amongst the group now don't we.

So what you're saying is that it's possible to identify someone as an unlawful combatant even if they're not engaging in combat?

It's possible to identify someone as a sea mammal, you may of course be completely wrong.

I'm saying that if you are targeting the enemy, they don't have to be armed under the LOAC, but you may be in breach of the RoE given to you at the time which would make you in breach of the LOAC.
 
BuggerAll, I hope your not including me. I've already gone through proportionate. Trouble is, I thought I was dealing with somebody who had passed MATT6 at least once.
 
BuggerAll said:
Gentlemen I think you are willfully misunderstanding each other. The LOAC does prohibit you from attacking civilians but it does not stop you from making a legit attack in which there is a danger of to civilians provided that it is proportionate and necessary to achieve a legitimate aim. The example I recall was if the enemy site an Artillery battery in a populated urban area you have to decide how much of a military necessity it is to knock it out - against how many civ cas you may cause - against can you ignore it.

In this context you would have to decide if risk of killing people who are not enemy (or who do not appear to be) against the risk to you and your mission of not killing the legit targets. That would not just be the direct threat to yourself but the threat they pose to friendly forces.

That's perhaps putting it better than me, but that's the distinction I was trying to make between the Law of Armed Conflict and the Rules of Engagement.
 
mark1234 said:
smartascarrots said:
mark1234 said:
Yes we know there are civilians amongst the group now don't we.

So what you're saying is that it's possible to identify someone as an unlawful combatant even if they're not engaging in combat?

It's possible to identify someone as a sea mammal, you may of course be completely wrong.

I'm saying that if you are targeting the enemy, they don't have to be armed under the LOAC, but you may be in breach of the RoE given to you at the time which would make you in breach of the LOAC.

You're doing this deliberately, aren't you?
 
putteesinmyhands said:
BuggerAll, I hope your not including me. I've already gone through proportionate. Trouble is, I thought I was dealing with somebody who had passed MATT6 at least once.

I've passed it every single time I've taken it, and I've been completely correct on the Law of Armed Conflict in this thread.

You haven't, the LOAC makes no distinction between armed and un-armed enemy, which you seem to think it does, only RoEs make such a distinction.
 
putteesinmyhands said:
mark1234 said:
Please point me to the section of the Law of Armed Conflict (which is the discussion I thought we were having) where it says "You can't assume that somebody with an insurgent is also an insurgent - at least, not to the point where you shoot them."

It's not a quote but an explanation. (And you're wondering why I'm being patronising?)

LOAC is quite clear on who can be attacked and who can't be. In a conflict where one side wears civvies instead of uniform, the difficulty is that of distinguishing just who the enemy is. Get it wrong and a) you're in the proverbial; b) you've increased the enemy's membership; c) you'll create more work for the diplomats; d) lots of other consequences, none of them good.

and if you second guess yourself? Dead Squaddies?

This isn't the world police, this is a war, it's one that holds the distinction of having the most complicated and restrictive ROEs in modern history. A lot of guys lost their lives because of that ROE.

Holding a weapon, in an area of a raid, past whatever friendly phase line in a war where none of the bad guys wears a uniform makes you a target.

I question who wikileaks is and what their intentions are. They say that "they couldn't be sure that the guys in the video were holding weapons so they decided not to point that out" yet they were absolutely convinced of the identity of the "reporter" and that he was holding an SLR with telescopic lens. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's easier to tell an AK or RPG from an SLR. But that's just me.

Also, if you watch the film, the guys with the AKs and RPG are in the crosshairs when he first pulls the trigger.
 
mark1234 said:
putteesinmyhands said:
BuggerAll, I hope your not including me. I've already gone through proportionate. Trouble is, I thought I was dealing with somebody who had passed MATT6 at least once.

I've passed it every single time I've taken it, and I've been completely correct on the Law of Armed Conflict in this thread.

You haven't, the LOAC makes no distinction between armed and un-armed enemy, which you seem to think it does, only RoEs make such a distinction.

Are you only reading half the words? Too much Tippex on the screen?

You haven't even grasped what constitutes "enemy", let alone whether you can shoot him. If one of the people in the vid had been wearing a Man U scarf, you'd be out slotting the team on Saturday, wouldn't you.
 
mark1234 said:
the LOAC makes no distinction between armed and un-armed enemy

But it does make clear that you have to take reasonable steps to identify the target as being enemy and then again to minimise the harm to any nearby civvies. The US Airforce agrees. LINK.

Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law—The Conduct of
Armed Conflict and Air Operations, instructs that, applying international
legal limits to air attacks, planners must take the following
precautions:
(a) Do everything feasible to verify that the objectives attacked are
neither civilians nor civilian objects . . .
(b) Take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and
methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to
minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and
damage to civilian objects; and
(c) Refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be
expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians,
damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which
would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military
advantage anticipated.22

As to civvies mixing with insurgents,

Exploiting the discrimination requirement placed on attackers by
deliberately commingling civilians with military targets violates the
basic principles of the law of armed conflict. Note, however, that a
defender’s violation of these principles—for example, its deliberate
placement of civilians in the vicinity of military targets or its use of specially protected sites to house weapons—does not relieve the
attacker of all legal obligations.

So simply spotting armed men - even had they been clearly identified as enemy instead of just local neighbourhood watch types - does not automatically equate to 'weapons free'.
 
I've never flown in an Apache.

I've never been a guard in a concentration camp either.

But I know sheer unmitigated evil when I see it.

The men who did this were murdering sh*ts. If they belonged to another army I might suggest they'd dishonoured their uniforms. But the American Army has been slaughtering innocent civilians since Wounded Knee. It's what they do best.

I loathe these stupid pointless wars. I loathe the lives lost, the money wasted and most of all I loathe the fact that both the country I was born in and the one I live in have become part of this bastardary. If you can't fight without doing things like this, then pack up and fu*k off home. No group of voters in Australia, Britain, Canada or any other sane country asked you to go to Iraq or Afghanistan in the first place. We don't want you there, we can't afford to keep you there, and you're too valuable to be wasted as American cannon fodder.

Just as a matter of interest, do any of you really believe it matters a gnat's ball what any of you think about this charming little home video? What matters is that yet again we've given every Muslim in the world absolute proof that Jihad against the West is a no-choice option. And one day the anti-western hatred you've done so much to cultivate will grease the skids for the Chinese to move into the Middle East in a big, big way. That's the day there really will be cheering crowds greeting the liberators with sweets and flowers.

It'll also be the day this war stops being fun for scum who get their kicks playing real life video games with real live targets.
 
smartascarrots said:
mark1234 said:
the LOAC makes no distinction between armed and un-armed enemy

But it does make clear that you have to take reasonable steps to identify the target as being enemy and then again to minimise the harm to any nearby civvies. The US Airforce agrees. LINK.

Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law—The Conduct of
Armed Conflict and Air Operations, instructs that, applying international
legal limits to air attacks, planners must take the following
precautions:
(a) Do everything feasible to verify that the objectives attacked are
neither civilians nor civilian objects . . .
(b) Take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and
methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to
minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and
damage to civilian objects; and
(c) Refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be
expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians,
damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which
would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military
advantage anticipated.22

As to civvies mixing with insurgents,

Exploiting the discrimination requirement placed on attackers by
deliberately commingling civilians with military targets violates the
basic principles of the law of armed conflict. Note, however, that a
defender’s violation of these principles—for example, its deliberate
placement of civilians in the vicinity of military targets or its use of specially protected sites to house weapons—does not relieve the
attacker of all legal obligations.

So simply spotting armed men - even had they been clearly identified as enemy instead of just local neighbourhood watch types - does not automatically equate to 'weapons free'.

You are quite right mate, it does not automatically mean that, but it could possibly mean you can kill them under the LOAC if all other conditions are met, and that was my original point.

And I was not commenting on the rights and wrongs of this case, or the status of the persons killed, just the law.
 
smartascarrots said:
So simply spotting armed men - even had they been clearly identified as enemy instead of just local neighbourhood watch types - does not automatically equate to 'weapons free'.


Did you watch a different video from the rest of us? Did you not hear the helo call in for permission to shoot?

This wasn't a crowded market or a school yard. It was a squad sized element with at least 2 AK variants and an RPG clearly visible.

Also, the squad sized element taking cover behind a building from ground elements and acting like any other RPG crew ie: one guy firing from a corner down a street with the other 5 guys around it. Anyone that's ever been in theater and watched UAV footage could tell you that.

Did you also not see the helo hold it's fire when the dust kicked up in order to assure their targets?

It's easy to sit in your armchair with the benefit of replaying over and over and try to loosely apply rules to show how they were broken.

The pilots in the situation certainly had enough to feel that they or the ground elements were in imminent danger from the group.
 
I watched the same video and I saw the same things as everyone else. I heard the helo pilots ask for confirmation that there were no friendlies in the area and getting the response about 'uniforms'.

As I said earlier, the first shoot was understandable even if with hindsight we can see the flaws in the reasoning that lead up to it. What I can't see is any justification for brassing up an unmarked vehicle in a highly-populated area when there was no direct threat to coalition forces. From what I've observed of Americans, they'd rush to help people in trouble in their neighbourhood, but despite that it never seemed to occur to anyone here that they might just be witnessing similar behaviour in the locals. The presumption was 'hostile' and every deduction made after that was coloured by that initial assessment.
 
smartascarrots said:
I watched the same video and I saw the same things as everyone else. I heard the helo pilots ask for confirmation that there were no friendlies in the area and getting the response about 'uniforms'.

As I said earlier, the first shoot was understandable even if with hindsight we can see the flaws in the reasoning that lead up to it. What I can't see is any justification for brassing up an unmarked vehicle in a highly-populated area when there was no direct threat to coalition forces. From what I've observed of Americans, they'd rush to help people in trouble in their neighbourhood, but despite that it never seemed to occur to anyone here that they might just be witnessing similar behaviour in the locals. The presumption was 'hostile' and every deduction made after that was coloured by that initial assessment.

That's why the second one looks so bad, it only occurred because they made the erroneous decision that they were dealing with insurgents to begin with.

It's easy to see why they did it, they genuinely believed they were dealing with bad guys, having said that, although I have defended the legality of their actions the humanity (or lack of) I can't defend, even if the van was unmarked by the red crescent, it's not on brassing it up when they are retrieving casualties.

But it's easy to say with hindsight, I can see why they did it, I personally hope under the same kind of pressure I wouldn't.... but I've never been in an Apache, I've only ever been the bloke on the ground watching one brass people up.
 
smartascarrots said:
I watched the same video and I saw the same things as everyone else. I heard the helo pilots ask for confirmation that there were no friendlies in the area and getting the response about 'uniforms'.

As I said earlier, the first shoot was understandable even if with hindsight we can see the flaws in the reasoning that lead up to it. What I can't see is any justification for brassing up an unmarked vehicle in a highly-populated area when there was no direct threat to coalition forces. From what I've observed of Americans, they'd rush to help people in trouble in their neighbourhood, but despite that it never seemed to occur to anyone here that they might just be witnessing similar behaviour in the locals. The presumption was 'hostile' and every deduction made after that was coloured by that initial assessment.

I'll be honest with you. I can't really see a clear reason to shoot up the van either.

In the video, you hear chatter about the van picking up weapons and wounded. That is the only possible rationale I could think of and it's a weak one at that.

The truth lies with the OIC that made the call and cleared the apache to fire.
 
I won't pretend that I have read this thread in its entirety, but it seems appropriate to remind folk that this incident occurred 3 yrs ago, and only 6 months after start of 'The Surge' in Iraq, when Petraeus took charge and began to make some significant changes to the way his soldiers behaved.

Whatever verdict may be reached in this instance - let's be careful about tarring the whole of the US armed forces (then and/or now) with the gung-ho/shoot first ask-questions-later-if-at-all brush
 
If you see this incident in terms of force protection, ROE and suchlike then I'm afraid you just don't get it. And that, regardless of your intentions, means you're part of the problem. (Don't take it personally, it's not meant that way.)

This is an information war. The truth is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the perceptions inside the minds of the people we need to influence to achieve our goals.

And they will watch this footage, read the accompanying narrative that is written by our enemies and we will move closer to losing. That is the only thing that matters - well, if you're interested in winning rather than bleating on and on how it's not fair that you lost even though you scored more frags than the other side (See Vietnam War, The). If you think like that then you're playing draughts while they play chess.

The US did screw up - because they denied the original FOIA request and failed to control the narrative when it leaked.

I know I've said it before but it bears repeating, the US has to start to be perceived as taking military casualties rather than risk civilian lives if it wishes to gain the legitimacy required to win. Rather than just leg it for the exits leaving the mess for the Persians and the Arabs to start out - sorry, I meant withdrawal with honour or whatever the current bone phrase is.

McChrystal gets this in AFG, but I doubt that the US military or public have the stomach for the years of grinding drip feed of bodybags (See Northern Ireland, British Army Involvement in) that it will take in AFG.
 

omegahunter

War Hero
So, I watched the full 38 minute video, and the way I see it, I see three engagements.

Engagement One

I saw two men, carrying AK style weapons. I saw men, carrying small cases with straps (cameras), and I saw one individual, with a long rod shaped device, presumably an RPG sans Warhead.

The men are milling about a square, and do not appear to be in a combative stance, nor do they seem to be preparing for combat, the gunner requests permission to fire. one man goes to take photos of something out of shot. He is mistaken to be carrying an RPG, and his group is engaged by 30mm fire.

This seems on the border of a legitimate shoot to me, since they don't actually seem to be a threat to anyone, although the RPG, sans warhead is definitely suspicious. It would seem more appropriate to direct a callsign to make a detention rather than gunning down the group with 30mm, but there you go.

Engagement Two

A man wounded by by the initial attack is loaded into a vehicle. None of the occupants appear to be armed. The Apache engages anyway. This seems to be a violation of the RoE and possibly article 3 of the Geneva convention.

Engagement Three

An armed man, who seems to be in a non combative stance enters a building. The aircrew request permission to fire on the building. A pair of people who appear unarmed enter the building. As the first hellfire is fired, a man appears walking in front of the building, who is unarmed. A further two missiles are fired into the building.

My Conclusion, based entirely on the video evidence

There seems to be a legitimate reason for the first attack, and maybe the third, but I see absolutely no reason for the second. The whole affair seems rather over the top, considering that the American forces aren't supposed to be at war. I know that their is further evidence, that the vehicle in 2 could of been supporting a ground callsign, but at the time of the engagement, they seem to be involved in assisting a wounded man, which makes the entire second engagement very questionable. All three attacks seem to me, to be over the top, and likely to cause international outrage. Had the people shown in the video been in a more aggressive posture, or seen to be preparing IED's I would hesitate to say that this was a good shoot, however, under the circumstances, I do believe that the Americans seem to have been too aggressive in action.
 

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