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20 October 2015


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Willy B

Clausewitz knew what he was talking about. Unfortunately he is little read and less comprehended. pl



On an unrelated but entirely inflammatory note here's Bibi revising history:


Col. Lang,

I was prepping a longer version of what you've just said. When you have a catastrophic but preventable event, you often find a chain of unlikely circumstances added up simultaneously to create the situation. In fact, an unusual string of unlikely events is the usual reason for tragedies like this. That's what you should always look for first, before jumping to a more "rational" conclusion.

I wouldn't be surprised if we learn additional unlikely circumstances that explain away other aspects of this.

Allen Thomson

> Is it me or is anyone else surprised by the relative lack of lethality given the weapons used and the duration of the attack?

A question of technical interest, but nonetheless interesting, and there's another:

If the facility had actually been "bombed" with JDAMs or Paveways, the place, large that it was, would have obliterated in a few minutes at most. As it was, it seems not to have been bombed but rather "shot up" by the tube weapons on a single C-130 over the space of an hour and a quarter or so. Not a good experience, but not equal to having JDAMs/Paveways delivered left, right, north, south and center.


How or even if that factors into the analysis I could only speculate, but won't.


Allen Thomson

The various size cannon on the AC-130 are point attack weapons. pl


Welcome Willy B!

I look forward to the input that I gain from you and others on SST.


Let me add that I thought of the following when I heard of the hospital bombing.

A massive truck bomb yesterday tore through the Canal Hotel that houses the UN offices in Baghdad killing at least 20 people, including the top UN official in Iraq—Sergio Vieira de Mello,

The attack was well organised. A concrete truck packed with an estimated 250 kilograms of C4 military explosives was detonated outside a newly-built, concrete retaining wall around the UN compound.g



Misled how? Told that it wasn't a hospital? So who was misled/misinformed? The fact that it was a hospital was clearly well established in the intelligence community. Who was the officer that approved the mission? Start with him. Article 32 investigation, now. Who was the air controller on the ground, talking the AC-130 to its target. He's next. Article 32 investigation, now. Who is the commander of the officer who approved the mission? Article 32 investigation now for failure to supervise his subordinates (I forget the military terminology for this and they almost never apply it anyway, but it should be applied). I don't see any way they can argue they were misled. Even if they believed that the Afghans were taking fire from the building it was clearly identified as a hospital. I'm a little incoherent here because I'm so angry. I was on active duty when My Lai was uncovered.



Once again, the IC was not involved in this. This was a matter localized in the forces in the field and an operational coordination matter , not an intelligence matter unless some representative of CIA, DIA or NSA incorrectly identified this building. If you want to blame someone look at people in
Afghanistan or in the chain of command in SOCOM. The IC does not run the war locally in Afghanistan. Your arm waving incoherence sounds a bit over the top. there is an ongoing investigation. what more do you want? Just what exactly were you occupied with when the My Lai killings were "revealed" by Sy Hersh? pl

Bryn P

I apologise if my comment gave an impression of sarcasm. It was not intended to do so. As you yourself have observed the inadvertent attack on yourself was quickly corrected and limited to a single pass whereas that on the hospital continued for "more than an hour". Is it wrong to question whether this time-scale offered plenty of opportunity for the aircrew to be informed that an error had been made and to cut short the attack?


Bryn P

The F-4s were not attacking me. They were attacking enemy troops in front of me and the friendly infantry I was with. It was an accident. what I object to as expressed in your outrage in the English Midlands is that without any real knowledge of what happened you have leapt to the conclusion that the god damned out of control Americans maliciously and recklessly committed a war crime rather than that yet another mishap occurred in the maelstrom of war. As for the time period involved, neither you nor I know as yet what the actual chain of events was that caused this disaster. Do you really think the USAF deliberately targeted this hospital? Do you really think that? If you do you are just another anti-American Brit. pl

Bryn P

And just in case of any further misapprehension I genuinely value the information and expertise which is provided here by yourself and by your other correspondents. This site is a beacon of commonsense in a world from which, as I approach my 9th decade, I find myself increasingly alienated. My thanks to you all.

Bryn P

"what I object to as expressed in your outrage in the English Midlands is that without any real knowledge of what happened you have leapt to the conclusion that the god damned out of control Americans maliciously and recklessly committed a war crime rather than that yet another mishap occurred in the maelstrom of war."

I never said this, Colonel, nor do I have any special knowledge or expertise about this particular event. Nonetheless this whole thread is a speculation about what happened plus observations on the consequent fallout. However for the record I do not believe that the USAF deliberately targetted this hospital. Such an occurrence would be totally unproductive in every respect. However something which should not have happened, did happen, and as such it warrants a thorough and preferably independent investigationt to find out why the standard rules of engagement procedures failed to identify the hospital in the first place, and also (and this was in fact the subject of my initially stated unease) could the directing staff have had the opportunity to call off at an earlier stage the sgeries of attacks which apparently took place over a period of 1 1/4 hrs? Even the the most unlikely possibilities also need to be considered, such as did anyone, Afghan or American, wish to send a message to MSF?

You have speculated, Colonel, that I might be one of those anti-American Brits. The answer frankly is both yes and no. On the one hand I have had and still have many excellent friendships with many Americans. I have around a dozen relatives over there with all of whom I am on good terms. There is much both to admire and to envy about America. Unfortunately there are also many things about the way you conduct yourselves in your relationships with other nations which is to be deplored. In particular I consider your government with its neocon tendencies to be a threat to humanity, and regrettably I see little likelihood of any change in the near future.

In fairness to those of you over there who are striving for real change I should also admit that I similarly deplore the activities of our own poodles and vassals here in the UK, Europe and elswhere who also continue to lead us downwards into your neocon dead end. I find the general stupidity and fecklessness shown by those in charge of us to be so dangerous and of such magnitude that I am constantly compelled to ask myself if it is actually me who is too stupid to see just what it is that they are actually trying to achieve?


Bryn P

As I said you choose to condemn us on the basis of your prejudice against us and in the absence of any knowledge of events. pl

Jim S

Even absent local ISAF (or whatever it's called these days) presence, SOP requires that a restricted-fire zone have been placed over the hospital and a 10-digit grid given for the building itself. These graphic control measures should have appeared on every overlay on every map and C3I system in theater. Approval to place fires into this zone requires a signature from the very top. Every squad leader and team leader on the ground knows this, to say nothing of aircrew.

If these GCM were not on the C3I system onboard the AC130, either: 1. they were never registered in the first place, or 2. they were registered but deleted prior to the mission. Lack of connectivity is not a possibility as the data would have to be removed from the equipment's hard drive either manually or as part of a scheduled update.

If the GCM were in place, either: 1. procedure was followed and the fires were cleared by the CJTF commander, or 2. someone in the chain went rogue.

If ISAF agrees that MSF properly notified of the hospital, "misled by allies" is not a possibility.

I'm generally a can't-chew-gum-and-walk-at-the-same-time type but all the same anyone who has dealt with fires in the last ten years would be inclined to believe this mission was specifically approved by the CJTF commander.


Jim S

"... anyone who has dealt with fires in the last ten years would be inclined to believe this mission was specifically approved by the CJTF commander." I would regard this as a definitive statement from someone with real knowledge. If it is the CJTF commander who did this there will be IMO an attempt to whitewash this incident to protect a general officer. pl


I wish, I could read the comment you respond to, not least since he may well have been one of the people I after a while put into the category not worth reading here:


Of course these categories sometimes don't work, they may in fact make matters worse among us the largely "unfocussed" or "without theses to prove".

But thanks, that your response tells me all I need to know about his comment. Not that I do not concede the necessary grain of truth, by they way.;)

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

That's a question I myself have regarding this peculiar incident. I've read a lot of stuff about how these gunships can turn a building into sawdust and everyone inside it to pink mist inside of two minutes, yet after a sustained attack on one single flimsy looking building, there are any number of survivors and people making phone calls from inside. I can't escape the feeling that this is one of those incidents we won't know the truth about until long after it ceases to be germane to current political discourse. Like the Gulf of Tonkin episode.

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

He doesn't translate well into English, does he?



I don't read German and have always relied on the Paret translation. Nevertheless the book is written in ponderous, 19th Century Kraut with philosophical overtones, but is still a work of genius. The time I spent studying it with Michael Handel was very good for me. pl



"... failure to supervise his subordinates..."

Sounds like the next Speaker of the House should bring the impeachment vote onto the floor so the Senate can have a real investigation.

Johnny Reims

I don’t think the Borg is overly interested in determining the cause of the Kunduz attack, particularly if, as it turns out and to borrow from Jim S., the mission was approved by a CJTF commander.

So how does one, in this day and age, shed light on this kind of incident, particularly if Jim S’s intuitions, based on experience, are validated?

Seems to me that only some kind of artistic expression could do so, along the dictates set out by Jacques Maritain in his work Art and Scholasticism, in which the acquired and infused virtue of art would reveal the truth. LOL. LOL. Good luck…

In the meantime, I hope that Willy B will persevere and continue to investigate, while finding the info of Jim S of worthy of consideration. Willy B is absolutely right, imo, to shine a light on this incident, and Jim S was right to stand tall and provide some key information.

Johnny Reims

opps...I meant to add that you still gotta' think about mens rea or something close to it.


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