Friday, January 11, 2008

Corpsman lights up 1/278th RCT Commander's vehicle

Pitts article follows my comments,

This was the article on the corpsman from a MiTT Cadre, suspect number one, not mentioned in it, but we knew generally what went down. Any idiot within 18 klicks listening to radio traffic this night knew where everyone was, we sure did, the LTC was first coming North on COWBOY then east on TACO when his convoy came upon the MiTT Cadre vehicles, from "summer school" voting precinct, the others were North on COWBOY and in Balad ruz. Everyone was heading to the house, aka FOB Caldwell. Lesson learned, do not give people machinguns just becasue they think it is cool to gun. It is not cool and you have to constantly make good decisions in a crazy battle space, at night it is worse. For some reason this guy was the only Navy person on the FOB, go figure. All I know is that he left shortly thereafter. I had a good friend from GA (48th BCT) tell me that a 101st guy opened up on them ENTERING into a FOB hitting one of their drivers in the leg after the first two vehicles passed, go figure, so it was not just the Navy, this was the same 48th BDE guy who got into a fist fight with a 101st 2LT on MSR Tampa for calling him a wetback, I digress.

They (the guys who shot at the LTC) were said to be laughing about the incident in our chow hall afterwards, not real bright. The reason they were in our chow hall is that the one on the KMTB side of the FOB was closed at night, ODA was over there but they did not do elections, one MiTT Cadre commander was a Major and they had the corpsman. Officers do not generally gun by the way and why in the hell would the vehicle with the ballot be last in a convoy escorting them?

No blood no foul, it was the evasiveness and failure to come forth and say hey guys we screwed up that left the bad blood. Anyone can understand the incident happening stupid or not but acting like you do not know what went on in your vehicle(s) is complete crap, especially for a major and captain, SFC, 1SG. As stated below anyone that thought the State Department was in Balad ruz has to be from the woods of East Tennessee. The reason the Iraqi Army was with us was that the US Army was paranoid about being seen as influencing elections so pushed the Iraqi Army to secure the locations and we stayed away during the actual voting acting as a QRF. So, since the Iraqi Army 2BN had Balad ruz as their AO they went, and where they went the MiTT cadre went, hence you had the IA guntrucks in the convoy along with the Bradley FV and other 278th elements from Balad ruz all driving back to the FOB at once, the LTC called the ball and as usual everyone executed the plan, which in Joe's case is going to late chow, that is probably why the shooters were in the chow hall/DFAC and being idiots talking about shooting up our BN CDR. That is about all I know. It is another war story now.

Here is a Corpsman mentioned in the link at the end of the sentence below, this was an AST/MiTT operating in another area. Why corpsman I have no idea, no USMC around, they were probably reservists. Just pointing out that there were actually corpsman with more than one MiTT/AST team.

In the HMMWV were five advisors: LTC David P. Wait, the brigade XO advisor, was the vehicle commander; CPT Paul Bollenbacher was the driver; SSG Jose Rodriguez was the gunner; CPT Peter Mollineaux and Chief Petty Officer Hyde, a Navy corpsman, rode in the rear seats.

The only Navy guy around KMTB was the corpsman at 2BN IA MiTT/AST cadre and apparently he was gunning, I went on a patrol with him early, or rather he with us, and he was a complete dweeb all jacked up carrying a gun, in fact I asked "who is that to others" because of his unusual demeanor, and why was a corpsman along with us. All roads led to him in the end, added to the fact he left shortly after. He was with the MiTT cadre I worked directly with/for when we began the MiTT teams.

278th 'friendly fire' incident investigated By Edward Lee PittsMilitary Affairs CAMP CALDWELL, Iraq -- An election night friendly fire incident involving members of the 278th Regimental Combat Team based here is under investigation, regimental officers confirmed Friday.
Lt. Col. Mark Hart, 1st Squadron commander, said officials from both units involved in the Jan. 30 shooting are conducting inquiries and gathering sworn statements. No one was injured in the incident.
The incident occurred when Lt. Col. Hart's convoy of six Humvees, returning to Camp Caldwell after disposing of a homemade bomb near the town of Balad Ruz, tried to join another U.S. military convoy. That convoy, composed of American soldiers from various military branches here to oversee the elections, also was heading back to Camp Caldwell.
According to witnesses, the lead convoy of non-278th soldiers discharged nearly 50 rounds of ammunition and left bullet marks on two 278th Humvees. The firing occurred when Lt. Col. Hart's group came within 800 meters of the lead convoy, which was escorting ballots from Sunday's election, witnesses said.
"There were tracers (bullets) everywhere firing to the left and the right," said Sgt. Caleb Baker, 23, of Greenback, Tenn. "I thought we were being ambushed."
The incident happened about 9:30 p.m., said Cpl. Greg Dixon, 33, of Dayton, Tenn., who was the hatch gunner on Lt. Col. Hart's front Humvee.
He said he heard three bursts coming from the rear Humvee in the lead convoy. The first burst sent bullet rounds to the left of the vehicles as a warning shot, but the second burst came right down the middle of the road toward Lt. Col. Hart's convoy, passing within five to 10 meters of Cpl. Dixon's face, he said.
"As soon as I saw that, I ducked down (inside the Humvee) and said, 'They are shooting at us,'" Cpl. Dixon said.
His Humvee driver swerved off the road and headed for cover behind a small mud hut when soldiers with the lead convoy discharged a third burst of gunfire toward the 278th detachment.
Sgt. Chad Crisp, 28, of Cleveland, Tenn., said two bullets ricocheted off the front ballistic windshield of the second Humvee, while another lodged into the driver's side windshield of the sixth and final Humvee in the 278th convoy.
Every fifth round fired by a U.S. weapon is illuminated with a red glow that continues to burn along the flight path of the bullet. These tracer rounds allow soldiers firing at night to acquire a reliable aim on an intended target.
"It was like watching the movie Star Wars up close and personal," said Sgt. Crisp, referring to the streams of red that tipped off the 278th soldiers that the bullets were coming from fellow Americans.
The bullets came from a 5.56 caliber machine gun called a squad automatic weapon, or SAW, which is less lethal than the .50-caliber machine guns commonly found on the top of Humvees.
"I probably wouldn't be here if it had been a .50 cal," said Spc. Michael French, 35, of Whitwell, Tenn., who was in the second Humvee that now has two bullet scars.
Sgt. Crisp said Lt. Col. Hart yelled over the radio to cease firing at friendly targets, but there was no response. Carrying the completed election ballots to Camp Caldwell where they would be guarded overnight, the lead convoy never stopped. After checking to make sure no one was hurt, Lt. Col. Hart's convoy also continued its route to Camp Caldwell, this time staying a good distance back of the lead convoy, according to Sgt. Crisp.
Back inside Camp Caldwell, the soldiers in Lt. Col. Hart's personnel security detachment, who travel everywhere with Lt. Col. Hart, confronted the suspected sources of the friendly fire. According to Sgt. Crisp, one of the passengers in the vehicle where the shooting came from said there were reports that insurgents in Baghdad had stolen a Humvee.
Despite the darkness, Spc. French said the gunner in the last Humvee of the first convoy should have seen the headlights of each Humvee in Lt. Col. Hart's convoy and known they were U.S. forces.
"I almost had rather it been the enemy because you know what to do then," said Spc. French. "It is a hard situation when your own people are shooting at you."
An Iraqi Army-operated Nissan truck was the next to last vehicle in the convoy escorting ballots. But Lt. Col. Hart ruled out that vehicle's involvement in the incident by wrapping his hand around the barrel of the .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the truck's bed and confirming that the barrel was cold.
Soldiers with the 278th received conflicting reports about who fired at them.
The occupants of the last Humvee in the convoy escorting ballots identified themselves as two officers from the U.S. Navy and a major and sergeant first class with the U.S. Army, according to a 278th soldier
But Sgt. Baker said the shooters were nonconventional soldiers wearing a mix of camouflage and civilian clothing similar to what U.S. Special Forces are allowed to wear.
The suspected shooters told the 278th soldiers they were State Department employees sent to train the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, according to other reports.
The 278th soldiers involved in the episode have completed sworn affidavits through the regiment's legal office, Lt. Col. Hart said.
On Friday, five days after the incident, the 278th soldiers said they still are in shock at what happened but thankful that no one was hurt.
"Everybody kept their heads and didn't start shooting back," Spc. French said. "It could have gotten rough."
Cpl. Dixon said he felt helpless when soldiers from his own country fired at him, and he said he did not return fire because the convoy escorting ballots had tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which could have quickly escalated the incident with deadly results.
Sgt. Michael Weeden, 32, of Athens, Tenn., the gunner on the second Humvee in Lt. Col. Hart's convoy, said soldiers are taught to have 100 percent positive identification on a target before squeezing the trigger.
"That takes seconds to do," he said. "If we had fired, we would have been no better than the people who fired on us. Once you pull the trigger, you can't take the bullets back."
The members of Lt. Col. Hart's personal security detachment said they are upset the officers involved did not have enough military discipline to refrain from firing and that the officers involved showed little remorse when challenged about the shooting once back inside Camp Caldwell.
"No one came to us to say, 'We are sorry,'" Cpl. Dixon said. "They didn't want to give us any names, and they were all quiet about it. I find it strange that so few people know who they are."
E-mail Lee Pitts at

My opinion: The State Department apparrently can't get its own employees to come to Iraq, definately not Balad ruz, and it is well known that the 98th Division did it and they of course knew if they had a unit out (IA), they being the major/SFC. What confused the 278th guys was the fact that they lived on the KMTB side of the FOB as did ODA/SF and other 98th DIV training Cadre (CMATT/ASTs), KMTB conducted basic training and had an operational IA BDE. It was before we organized MiTT teams that worked with the 98th MiTT Cadre so you had the confusion of who they were. So much for investigative reporting. Lee Pitts stuff was soft, meaning that he took a soft line, no edge at all to his writing, no underlying caustic wit to veil what really went on. It is just short of having an official Army public affairs person writing the articles. To much soundbite and to little substance. What was going on was real, interesting, and very reportable. Like the Fobbit article below, compare it to what soldiers write and post and tell me which is clearer.

The "War Fix" guy goes the other extreme, at least in reporting what and how we did stuff on a daily basis, if you get shot at or RPGed or mortared it does not mean much unless you are hit or it messes up equipment. Book link below, I think he went on some patrols in 3/278th AO. The Doug Grindle video clips are good, linked in link list.