Attitudes to killing in Afghanistan

Some interesting stories kicking around this morning on attitudes of Nato pilots in Afghanistan. They are behind a paywall, so if you don’t pay for journalism you won’t be able to read them. Anyway, The Times has contrasting quotes from Yank and Brit Apache pilots in a piece on Prince Harry:

Offering advice to the young royal, one veteran American Apache pilot said: “Kill the enemy — and have fun doing it.”

“Never assume anything. If there’s any doubt … don’t do it,” said a British Apache pilot who has flown in Helmand.

A couple of pages later comes a report on the death of Lance Corporal Christopher Roney, killed by American Apache helicopters in Helmand in 2009…

A combination of failures and mistaken assumptions led to a US Apache helicopter killing a British soldier in an attack on a British base in Afghanistan that was wrongly identified as a Taleban target, a coroner ruled yesterday.

This was a tragic accident, and it would be perhaps wrong to make the generalisation that American crews have a trigger happy attitude to targets. But the two pieces perhaps serve as a way to understand the events of November, 26 when US airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Salalah, close to the border with Afghanistan. It wasn’t deliberate, it wasn’t a plot or a conspiracy. It was an awful, bloody cock-up.


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