Australian Pilots not commited to War on Terror in Iraq

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Well at least not committed to "collateral damage". I'm proud of the guys actually. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/13/1078594618101.html
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Australia's F/A-18 pilots defied the orders of American commanders and refused to drop their bombs on up to 40 missions during the invasion of Iraq, it can now be revealed. In a remarkable account of how our airmen applied Australian rules of engagement, an RAAF pilot has told The Sun-Herald each of the 14 RAAF Hornet pilots aborted three to four bombing runs because intelligence given at pre-flight briefings did not concur with what they found at the target. Last night, The Sun-Herald could not confirm whether or not American field commanders raised objections about the Australian pilots' actions, nor if US pilots later carried out the bombing runs themselves. But Australia's Defence Force chief, General Peter Cosgrove backed the pilots' action, and said there were no recriminations. Squadron Leader Daryl Pudney last week described how he and other Australian F/A-18 pilots were forced to weigh up the risk of civilian casualties in a split second before dropping their bombs. He said pilots broke off many missions after they saw the target and decided there was not a valid military reason to drop their bombs. During the war, which began a year ago on March 19, the Defence Department acknowledged just one RAAF Hornet pilot had aborted a mission set by Allied headquarters. On March 23, four days into the war, Air Marshal Angus Houston said an RAAF pilot called off a planned attack due to poor weather and lack of air support. But it appears there were fundamental differences between the US dominated headquarters and Australian pilots over what constituted a valid military target. Squadron Leader Pudney said under Australia's rules of engagement pilots had to ask themselves on each mission whether it was right to drop their bombs. "Each guy would have made that decision once to half a dozen times in the conflict. It was presented as being just one pilot in one incident, but it was all of us several times," he said. "We were providing an identification of targets in conjunction with ground forces, and if we were not 100 per cent sure we were taking out a valid military target in accordance with our specifications we just did not drop." Squadron Leader Pudney said he could not comment on the reasons they aborted specific missions. But it seems that it was often to avoid the unnecessary killing of civilians. "As we approached the target area we confirmed we had the right place. Then we'd run a check provided through our training that we were doing the right thing by our rules of engagement. "We exercise those all the time. In Iraq it was a matter of the briefings we received prior in regards to our rules of engagement, as to whether we thought this was a target we should be destroying. "If it was not, then we decided not to deploy." He said most decisions were made in the air, but some were command decisions. Debriefing after the missions was carried out in an "honest, open and forthright environment". "You don't always make the right decision, but we were always leaning towards not making the wrong decision. "You go out on the mission wanting to do everything in your power to support ground forces and the operation. "When I decided not to attack it was because there were some small doubts in the back of my mind saying 'Is this really what I need to be doing, is this going to help win the war right now or is it going to stop our boys on the ground getting targeted?' "If the answer was no, then you ask what is the likelihood of it being the wrong decision. You start looking deeper into what you have been trained to do and the briefings you have had, and make a decision from there. "Often it was a little niggle in the back of your brain that it was not the right thing to do, and then you back up and assess your training and briefing." Squadron Leader Pudney said he did not believe the US Air Force was more trigger happy, but they operated under different laws of engagement. General Cosgrove told The Sun-Herald yesterday there had been no recriminations against the Australian pilots. But he would not comment on whether the US subsequently carried out any of the missions that had been aborted by the Australians. "We do not comment on our Coalition partners' operations," he said in written replies to a series of questions put to him. Nor would the Defence Force chief say whether there had been a failure of intelligence at the pre-flight briefings. General Cosgrove said "very few" missions had been aborted and when it did happen it was mainly due to mechanical or weather reasons. But he fully supported the pilots' decisions to break off the bombing. "Our pilots are extremely professional and their conduct of operations, and the high esteem they were held in by their coalition partners in Iraq, proved it," General Cosgrove said. US Air Force spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Jennifer Cassidy said aborted missions would have gone back into "the mix" at headquarters. "We stressed to all pilots the impact of collateral damage was something we had to be careful about," she said. "We paid a lot of attention to avoiding collateral damage in the conflict and the rules of engagement for all pilots in the Coalition would have been the same." Other allied pilots had to abort missions after they found targets were harmless. One British RAF pilot exploded a missile his plane had already launched after he looked at the target through binoculars and saw it was a workman's hut in a quarry. Intelligence had told them it was a tank. In other intelligence failures, a US Air Force A-10 tankbuster plane fired on British jeeps, killing one soldier and wounding four others. On April 6, a US bomber attacked a US-Kurdish convoy killing 18 Kurdish fighters.
 
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Good article, but I'm not sure why you had to ruin your post with such a header. The author does fail to point out that the allied pilots always have the choice, but he does say that indeed American pilots are not "trigger happy". What it really points at is the "intelligence"....although we like to think that the information has kept up with the weaponry, it's stil very foggy....
 
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I think that pilots in this particular campaign had a lot more of an ability to make ethical decisions than in other foreseeable conflicts. Had there been intense groundfire etc. you can bet they'd be thinking go in, smoke 'em and get out in one piece hopefully. It's a fine line though...imagine being a ground pounder waiting for an airstrike to cover your withdrawal or take out a strongpoint. You wouldn't want the pilot to have too many ethical dilemmas in that case. All that said, good job! [Patriot]
 
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Moral of the story: If you want something done and done right, do it yourself. After reading many posts from our European and Australian brother, it is now clear as water to me that the United States is alone in this fight. Personaly , I feel we are being backstabbed left and right and the thought of it makes my heart ache.Ten or twenty years from now, we will see who was right and who was wrong and although I don't have to wait that long to find out, we will identify our true friends.....if any. Take my comments as you wish! Rick
 
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It will be interesting to see how the Aussies vote in their next election. I suspect that the Aussie left find it much more acceptible to dance to the tune of radical Islam than the U.S. (like Spain just did). John Howard is doing the right thing by supporting the war on terror and the Iraq campaign. But then again, these days right is wrong and down is up.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Technarch: US pilots bombed Canadian troops in Afghanistan, killed 4. In the inquiry, it was revealed that the US military has a habit of feeding their pilots stimulants and uppers to keep them in the air longer flying as many missions as possible. Drugs affect judgement, no doubt about that.
I believe this was an estray bomb though, which noone can predict. Combat controller are in many case very close to the enemy and accident do happen. There was another incident where the same thing happen andAmerican soldiers, afghanis and a press crew was hit killing a few....a estray bomb was at fault.
 
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This whole thing comes down to an organization's chain of command and what is expected of the person at the pointy end of the spear. There's definitely no right answer. I think the right approach is to get better intelligence assessments instead of relying on fatigued, fired-on pilots to do it in the heat of the moment, at night or in bad weather. As far as the stimulants go, get used to it as we continue to stretch ourselves thin. Even our outstanding soldiers/sailors/airmen etc have limits; people think technology will take care of everything...not!
 

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quote:
Originally posted by Last_Z: Moral of the story: If you want something done and done right, do it yourself. After reading many posts from our European and Australian brother, it is now clear as water to me that the United States is alone in this fight. Personaly , I feel we are being backstabbed left and right and the thought of it makes my heart ache.Ten or twenty years from now, we will see who was right and who was wrong and although I don't have to wait that long to find out, we will identify our true friends.....if any. Take my comments as you wish! Rick
Actually Z, I was, and still am in favour of the action that was taken in Afghanistan, and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. I am glad that my country has been able to help in THAT conflict. Iraq is different, as I disagree vehemently with that war, and the way that it was started.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by PRRPILL: That was great. Now the pilots in their supersonic planes can best asses the situation on the ground. They are then free to make their own decisions on when to shoot or not.
1. American pilots often abort missions when the target turns out to not be what it was reported to be. American pilots aren't mindless automations. Yes, they have the authority to decide whether they should drop their ordnance or not. Ask an American fighter pilot. 2. Attacks on ground targets are rarely made at nearly supersonic speed.
 
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The Oz F18 pilots were under command by the US but had different 'rules of engagement' re bombing. If the target could not be identified 100% they were to return to base. Weather alone is one factor in target identification. US command were highly impressed with the F18 operations and reported so often. F18's swung them from one mission on air cover to then bombing runs. The newspaper article has spin doctor all over it, dont believe everything you read.
 
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Even in Vietnam we in the air had the final say as to if ordnance was dispensed. If the target didn't look right we didn't shoot. The ROE's are there for a reason. For those of you that have never been there, it is amazing what can be seen from the air, even at night. Not only did the NVA use trucks (some were GM of Canada) down the Ho Chi Minh trail, when it was too wet elephants were used, they blow up just like trucks when carrying ammo. [ March 15, 2004, 09:44 PM: Message edited by: Bob Woods ]
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt89: It's a fine line though...imagine being a ground pounder waiting for an airstrike to cover your withdrawal or take out a strongpoint. You wouldn't want the pilot to have too many ethical dilemmas in that case. All that said, good job! [Patriot]
Imagine being a ground pounder and having you own Air Force make a strike on you because a pilot wouldn't question faulty intelligence. Ethical dilemas aren't always bad. There is a whole array of possibilities between blindly following orders and questioning everything for no reason at all. The Aussies seem to have picked a very reasonable approach that leans strongly towards effectiveness while minimizing collateral damage.
 
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That was great. Now the pilots in their supersonic planes can best asses the situation on the ground. They are then free to make their own decisions on when to shoot or not. Why not send them in to do all the recce in the area, then have them decide what is worth shooting at. This shows the failing of any multi-country force. How can you tell a civilian from the Fedayeen. You cannot. When I was a ground pounder fighting terrorists, and asked for air support, I did not want some Air force pilot countermmanding my request. Imagine if they were wrong, and we lost our men because of it. Were they aware of all the information? I have never been to a briefing where we were given all the intel. Especially not to pilots that could get shot down. When the pilots are shot down, do the rescuers get to decide whether it is worth it to risk themselves, or whether it is the right rules of engagement. No. They go in to save one of their compatriots. Imagine telling a troop commander the the RAAF had someone down, and would he go get them. Oh and by the way, this was one of the guys that decided not to take out the Fedayeen, or Civilians that ambushed you guys last week. The author may not come out and say it, but reading between the lines shows the disdain the Australians feel for the American military. My father who fought in WW2 told me that the British, Australians, NZ and South Africans hated the Yanks because they were "Over" Over sexed, Over Paid, Over bearing and mainly, because they were Over Here. (Europe). Before I came to live in this country I had great trepidation about the Yanks. I had heard all kinds of horror stories. I have learned that this is all BS. Why does the whole world want to live here. Because they want what we have. I hope we stop trying to change the USA into the country we all came from. Remember we ran from that. If the Australian Air Force does not want to accept the US Military Command, they should go home. 14 planes. Hardly an air force. More like a token.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by PRRPILL: That was great. Now the pilots in their supersonic planes can best asses the situation on the ground. They are then free to make their own decisions on when to shoot or not. Why not send them in to do all the recce in the area, then have them decide what is worth shooting at. This shows the failing of any multi-country force. How can you tell a civilian from the Fedayeen. You cannot. When I was a ground pounder fighting terrorists, and asked for air support, I did not want some Air force pilot countermmanding my request. Imagine if they were wrong, and we lost our men because of it. Were they aware of all the information? I have never been to a briefing where we were given all the intel. Especially not to pilots that could get shot down. When the pilots are shot down, do the rescuers get to decide whether it is worth it to risk themselves, or whether it is the right rules of engagement. No. They go in to save one of their compatriots. Imagine telling a troop commander the the RAAF had someone down, and would he go get them. Oh and by the way, this was one of the guys that decided not to take out the Fedayeen, or Civilians that ambushed you guys last week. The author may not come out and say it, but reading between the lines shows the disdain the Australians feel for the American military. My father who fought in WW2 told me that the British, Australians, NZ and South Africans hated the Yanks because they were "Over" Over sexed, Over Paid, Over bearing and mainly, because they were Over Here. (Europe). Before I came to live in this country I had great trepidation about the Yanks. I had heard all kinds of horror stories. I have learned that this is all BS. Why does the whole world want to live here. Because they want what we have. I hope we stop trying to change the USA into the country we all came from. Remember we ran from that. If the Australian Air Force does not want to accept the US Military Command, they should go home. 14 planes. Hardly an air force. More like a token.
Just when I was losing faith in "our" people, you slapped me on the face.......and I thank you for that. Needless to say, your statement couldn't possibly have been said any better. This IS the greatest country in the world.......and no, I'm not swimming in my our crap....I'm an immigrant. I too was thinking how in heaven a pilot going at no less than 600MPH (approximate cruise speed for F-18s) can distinguish between Al-Qaida, Iraqi insurgents, coalition troops and civilians!?!?! One thing to add to RPPPL post....the yanks response to the British was....."You guys are underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower!!"
 
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US pilots bombed Canadian troops in Afghanistan, killed 4. In the inquiry, it was revealed that the US military has a habit of feeding their pilots stimulants and uppers to keep them in the air longer flying as many missions as possible. Drugs affect judgement, no doubt about that.
 

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Originally posted by Matt89: As far as the stimulants go, get used to it as we continue to stretch ourselves thin. Even our outstanding soldiers/sailors/airmen etc have limits; people think technology will take care of everything...not!
Matt, do you feel similarly about yourself and family sharing the roads with drug users (particularly rogue truck drivers on speed) ?
 

Shannow

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quote:
Originally posted by Pablo: Good article, but I'm not sure why you had to ruin your post with such a header.
quote:
Originally posted by Labman: I think a loaded piece of spin was given whatever headline works best.
Yep, I probably went a bit over the top. (seems to be a common affliction on the board lately) [Cheers!]
 
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