Umbach and Schmidt get away with it

Two US fighter pilots who mistakenly bombed and killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan will not face court-martials, US defence officials say.
Major Harry Schmidt and Major William Umbach had faced a series of charges brought by the US Air Force, including manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction in the line of duty following the incident in April last year.

They could have been sentenced to more than 60 years each in prison.

But Lieutenant General Bruce Carlson, the Air Force commander who reviewed the case, has decided to recommend that the two F-16 pilots would face 'administrative sanctions', with Major Schmidt also possibly facing a flight evaluation board, officials said

Any comment from our Canadian cousins?


That sends a nice message to all the other trigger happy cnuts. I'm intrigued to know what would constitute dereliction?

It is rather akin to a bunch of squaddies shooting up a random house, claiming they were being fired upon and then discovering that the house was full of their colleagues. I'm guessing that someone would answer for that.

What a load of wnak
Now I wonder what would have happened, if a couple of Jaguar guys had done the same thing to US forces?
Perhaps the NotInMyName creature will take them to the Belgian courts, as he seems, from another thread, to be very keen on mil personnel being prosecuted.

More seriously, could the relatives of the victims (or even the Canadian government), not bring an action in the civil courts, and make these trigger happy cowboys accept some responsibility for their actions.
Sends out a fantastic message don't it?  :-/  And some of them wonder why their allies don't trust them.  Granted, mistakes can happen in war, but at the very least if you're fighting alongside these blokes it would be nice to believe they are accountable for their actions.  If, God forbid, spams are killed in a future "blue on blue", will they be happy if the nation responsible reaches a similar conclusion?  If they were to get a bit arrsey over such an incident, would rulings such as that reached with regards to these pilots not have repurcussions if brought to bear by a savvy lawyer?  I'm just waiting to see what, if any, comeback there might be in the future with regards to the number of incidents of yanks shooting unarmed protestors in Iraq.  A multimillion pound inquiry?  Doubt it.

El Gringo

??? To be honest, I'm struggling to believe that anyone is surprised by this.  Doesn't anyone remember Op Granby? Two A-10s killed 8 Fusiliers and wounded approx a dozen more.  Was disciplinary action taken against the pilots, who had blatantly violated rules of engagement for starters?  Not a bit of it.  

Another infamous incident last year involved US Air Force reserve pilots bombing civvie targets.  They (allegedly) got off as they claimed to be under the influence of drugs taken by US pilots on combat ops to keep them awake (make of that what you will).

As for what our closest allies do to those with the temerity to commit fratricide against their troops, consider another case from Gulf 1.  The most senior attack helicopter pilot in the US Army found 'a target'. He duly called it in and was given clearance to engage the target.  There then appeared to be a navigation discrepancy, so he again requested permission to engage the target and was (again) given permission to do so.  Once he had engaged and destroyed the 'target' it became apparent the pilot had attacked 2 Bradleys.  He was investigated and although he had followed the rules of engagement to the letter (twice) he was partially blamed and left the service.  If that's what they do to their own, I can't help wondering what they would do to another country's forces!?  ???
As an RAF aircrew officer who flew numerous missions over Afghanistan, I am appalled that these 2 officers have got off scot free.

Air-air and air-ground ROE for aircrew as contained in the theatre SPINS are always extremely complex documents.  As an AWACS guy, we have to understand their implementation intimately as it is often ourselves who are authorising weapons release.

However, Umbrach and Schmidt are guilty of manslaughter.  Their actions on the night in question broke the ROE, they disobeyed directions from the USAF AWACS (ironically commanded that night by a Canadian Maj), broke their own flt lead/wingman SOP's, and displayed appalling discipline which resulted in needless loss of life.

However, most worrying is that it is sadly indicative of the mindset of many US military.  I have operated alongside them during GW1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and GW2.  In every conflict, one of the most difficult things is stopping gung ho US aircrew seeking to engage without meeting some or any of the ROE.  In Kosovo, my AWACS crew alone stopped our USAF counterparts authorising engagements on friendlies on 2 consecutive nights.  What was most sickening was that the crew in question then tried to cover it up.  

Additionally, the tragic LGB attack against the refugee convoy in that conflict was a target previously rejected by RAF Harriers.  Despite the RAF pilots informing the US AFAC that it was not a valid target, the same AFAC then cleared USAF F-16's to drop.

Many US military are extremely professional.  However, as a nation, the US generally (and their military in particular) are far less respectful of the implications of employing lethal force.  

The fact that these 2 individuals have been released is utterly disgusting.  Their actions were unprofessional, and their sqn attempted to cover their tracks.  Moreover, they then hid behind a curtain of excuses to ensure that they got off.  If they have any shred of integrity remaining to feel guilt, I hope that it haunts them for the rest of their lives.

M2 :mad:

Mr Happy

A sterling Post from the RAF chappy and most informative, if a little angering. :evil:

I hope he's popped it in the post to the Telegraph too. :oops:

No mention of guilt for his hotel accomodation though... :D


Well posted MagicM. Does make you wonder what the fcuk the spams are up to. They know all their allies' media are watching this, the in-flight dialogue of the event in Afghanistan was itself quite revealing when of the jockeys was heard to say, a split second after he'd dropped his load, "..gee, I hope we've done the right thing"....(!).

Not really surprised when you see the history of other events..anyone remeber the Italian cable car brought down by a cab happy Prowler in the Alps?



Shame us

Went nowhere, as I seem to recall...
I remember the cable car incident well, as we were operating out of the same base in Northern Italy - Aviano - as the EA-6Bs.

Whilst I was not deployed to Aviano at the time of the incident, I rotated out there about one week later. I well remember the demos outside the base and getting bottles hurled at our vehicle by enraged locals who mistook us for Spams.

In fairness, there were some extenuating circumstances regarding this incident: the wire was not shown on the aircrews charts, and wires are notoriously difficult to see from the air.

What was not acceptable was the way in which the sqn Boss attempted to wipe video tapes taken by the crew during the low flying which led to the incident, nor the culture of low flying one upmanship that prevailed on the USMC Prowler det at the time.

I understand that the sqn Boss and the EA-6B pilot and nav were disciplined for this incident. However, if memory serves me correctly, the punishments (which included a custodial sentance for the pilot) were subsequently commuted once the publicity had died down. :evil:


Shame us

Can't imagine that of the Yankees!
As has been mentioned before.... it's all in the US Forces mind set.

I was chatting to a US soldier in the queue for Subways on one of my very few chances to drop in to Camp Doha in Kuwait. As soon as I found out she was from a Patriot Battery I asked her what the score was with the Tornado incident. The reply? Something along the lines of "Oh, don't worry, we shot at a few of ours as well."

Well that makes it alright then!

My opinion is that there is a BIG difference between making mistakes in the 'heat of battle" and under severe pressure and confusion, and not giving a sh1t what the hell you shoot at because you'll probably get away with it in the end.


Seems to be summed up by Might is Right attitude that the US seem to believe in.

I remember seeing on CNN at the height of the fighting, one US soldier excitedly proclaiming that he had 'shot up' a motorbike - no rider on the bike you understand, just 'shot it up'. Still I suppose to go all that way and not blat of a few rds must be a little frustrating.

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