Startling findings in probe of Tillman’s death
update of my original post:
“Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!” he shouted, again and again.
The latest inquiry into Tillman’s death by friendly fire should end next month; authorities have said they intend to release to the public only a synopsis of their report. But The Associated Press has combed through the results of 21/4 years of investigations — reviewed thousands of pages of internal Army documents, interviewed dozens of people familiar with the case — and uncovered some startling findings.
One of the four shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, had recently had PRK laser eye surgery. Although he could see two sets of hands “straight up,” his vision was “hazy,” he said. In the absence of “friendly identifying signals,” he assumed Tillman and an allied Afghan who also was killed were enemy.
Another, Spc. Steve Elliott, said he was “excited” by the sight of rifles, muzzle flashes and “shapes.” A third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, said he saw two figures, and just aimed where everyone else was shooting.
Squad leader Sgt. Greg Baker had 20-20 eyesight, but claimed he had “tunnel vision.” Amid the chaos and pumping adrenaline, Baker said he hammered what he thought was the enemy but was actually the allied Afghan fighter next to Tillman who was trying to give the Americans cover: “I zoned in on him because I could see the AK-47. I focused only on him.”
All four failed to identify their targets before firing, a direct violation of the fire discipline techniques drilled into every soldier.
This is incredibly sad and horrifying. There have been many, many posts about the “dumbing down” (my phrase) of the current recruits of the military. This is because there aren’t enough soldiers in Iraq to win, and there never have been, based on 1999 War Games. I can’t imagine being in the middle of a fire fight and I don’t mean to impugn the soldiers, but I do feel like their training was not adequate.