Dienstag, 6. Februar 2007

Blue on Blue

'I'm going to be sick'

The transcript of the conversation between two US pilots whose planes attacked a British convoy in southern Iraq in March 2003

Tuesday February 6, 2007, Guardian Unlimited

According to The Sun, which printed the transcript from a cockpit video taken from one of the planes and obtained by the newspaper, this was the attack in which Lance Corporal Matty Hull was killed.
The transcript identifies the pilots of the A-10 planes only as POPOV36 - who fired at the convoy, and who the Sun said was a lieutenant colonel - and POPOV35, a major.

Also speaking are Manila Hotel, Manila34 and Lightning34, US Marine Corps forward air controllers on the ground and attached to British units. Later, Sky Chief, a US AWACS jet controlling the air battle and COSTA58, a British pilot nearby, also speak.

The times given, from the digital clock on the pilot's display, are in GMT.

Transcript starts:
1336.30 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV from MANILA HOTEL. Can you confirm you engaged that tube and those vehicles?

1336.36 POPOV35: Affirm Sir. Looks like I've got multiple vehicles in reverts at about 800 metres to the north of your arty (artillery) rounds. Can you switch fire, and shift fire, and get some arty rounds on those?

1336.47 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, I understand that those are the impacts you observed earlier on my timing?

1336.51 POPOV35: Affirmative.

1336.52 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, standby. Let me make sure they're not on another mission.

1336.57 POPOV36: Hey, I got a four ship. Looks like we got orange panels on them though. Do we have any friendlies up in this area?

1337.03 MANILA HOTEL: I understand that was north 800 metres.

1337.12 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV, understand that was north 800 metres?

1337.16 POPOV35: Confirm, north 800 metres. Confirm there are no friendlies this far north on the ground.

1337.21 MANILA HOTEL: That is an affirm. You are well clear of friendlies.

1337.25 POPOV35: Copy. I see multiple riveted vehicles. Some look like flatbed trucks and others are green vehicles. Can't quite make out the type. Look like may be ZIL157s [Russian made trucks used by Iraqi army].

1337.36 MANILA HOTEL: Roger. That matches our intel up there. And understand you also have the other fixed wing up this push? For terminal control, if you can.

1337.44 POPOV35: I'd love to. I didn't talk to him yet.

1337.46 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, I believe CASPER is up this push too. Two Super Tomcats.

1337.54 POPOV35: Hey dude.

1337.56 POPOV36: I got a four ship of vehicles that are evenly spaced along a road going north.

1338.04 POPOV36: Look down at your right, 2 o'clock, at 10 o'clock low, there is a, left 10 o'clock low, look down there north along that canal, right there. Coming up just south of the village.

1338.21 POPOV35: Evenly spaced? Where we strafed?

1338.23 POPOV36: No. No. Further east, further west, right now. And there's four or five of them right now heading up there.

1338.29 POPOV35: No, I don't have you visual.

1338.30 POPOV36: I'm back at your 6 - no factor.

1338.31 POPOV35: OK, now where's this canal?

1338.35 POPOV35: Don't hit those F18s that are out there.

1338.38 POPOV36: OK. Right underneath you. Right now, there's a canal that runs north/south. There's a small village, and there are vehicles that are spaced evenly there.

1338.49 POPOV36: They look like they have orange panels on though.

1338.51 POPOV35: He told me, he told me there's nobody north of here.

1338.52 POPOV36: I know. There, right on the river.

1338.53 POPOV35: I see vehicles though, might be our original dudes.

1339.09 POPOV36: They've got something orange on top of them.

1339.10 POPOV35: POPOV for MANILA 3, is MANILA 34 in this area?

1339.14 MANILA HOTEL: Say again?

1339.15 POPOV35: MANILA HOTEL, is MANILA 34 in this area?

1339.19 MANILA HOTEL: Negative. Understand they are well clear of that now.

1339.23 POPOV35: OK, copy. Like I said, multiple riveted vehicles. They look like flatbed trucks. Are those your targets?

1339.30 MANILA HOTEL: That's affirm.

1339.31 POPOV35: OK.

1339.34 POPOV36: Let me ask you one question.

1339.35 POPOV35: What's that?

1339.45 POPO36: (to MANILA HOTEL) Hey, tell me what type of rocket launchers you got up here.

1339.50 POPOV36: I think they're rocket launchers.

1339.52 MANILA HOTEL: . . . (garbled) You were stepped on, say again.

1339.54 POPOV35: MANILA HOTEL, fire your arty up that 800 metres north, and see how we do.

1340.01 MANILA HOTEL: Roger, standby for shot. They are getting adjustments to the guns now.

1340.34 POPOV35: Copy.

1340.09 POPOV36: Roll up your right wing and look right underneath you.

1340.12 POPOV35: (angry) I know what you're talking about.

1340.13 POPOV36: OK, well they got orange rockets on them.

1340.17 POPOV35: Orange rockets?

1340.17 POPOV36: Yeah, I think so.

1340.18 POPOV35: Let me look.

1340.26 POPOV35: We need to think about getting home.

1340.29 POPOV36: 3.6 is what it says (a fuel measurement).

1340.31 POPOV35: Yeah, I know. I'm talking time wise.

1340.35 POPOV36: I think killing these damn rocket launchers, it would be great.
(The tape then becomes garbled)

1340.52 MANILA HOTEL: Yeah, POPOV36, MANILA HOTEL. I've got other aircraft up this push. Not sure they're coming to me. Someone else might be working this freak.

1341.00 POPOV35: Yeah, MANILA34 is working them, break, break.

1340.12 POPOV36: Yeah, I see that, you see I'm going to roll down.

1340.15 MANILA 34: Break, be advised MANILA34 is not working the F18s unless they are trying to check in with me, over.

1341.21 POPOV35: Copy.

1341.24 POPOV36: OK, do you see the orange things on top of them?

1341.32 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL. Are you able to switch to Crimson?

1341.37 POPOV36: POPOV 36 is rolling in.

1341.40 MANILA HOTEL: Tell you what.

1341.41 POPOV35: I'm coming off west. You roll in. It looks like they are exactly what we're talking about.

1341.49 POPOV36: We got visual.

1341.50 POPOV36: OK. I want to get that first one before he gets into town then.

1341.53 POPOV35: Get him - get him.

1341.55 POPOV36: All right, we got rocket launchers, it looks like. Number 2 is rolling in from the south to the north, and 2's in.

1342.04 POPOV35: Get it.

According to The Sun, POPOV36, then puts his A-10 into a dive to strafe the British column, destroying two Scimitar armoured vehicles and killing L/Cpl Hull.

1342.09 - GUNFIRE -

1342.18 POPOV35: I'm off your west.

1342.22 POPOV35: Good hits.

1342.29 POPOV36: Got a visual.

1342.30 POPOV35: I got a visual. You're at your high 10.

1342.31 POPOV36: Gotcha.

1342.30 POPOV36: That's what you think they are, right?

1342.39 POPOV35: It looks like it to me, and I got my goggles on them now.

1342.59 POPOV35: OK, I'm looking at getting down low at this.

1343.13 MANILA HOTEL: POPOV 36 from MANILA HOTEL, guns . . .

1343.17 MANILA HOTEL: To engage those targets in the revetts [slopes].

1343.24 POPOV36: It looks like he is hauling ass. Ha ha. Is that what you think they are?

1343.34 POPOV36: 1-2

1343.35 POPOV35: It doesn't look friendly.

1343.38 POPOV36: OK, I'm in again from the south.

1343.40 POPOV35: Ok.

1343.47 - GUNFIRE -


1344.09 POPOV35: POPOV 35, LIGHTNING 34 GO.

1344.12 LIGHTNING 34: Roger, POPOV. Be advised that in the 3122 and 3222 group box you have friendly armour in the area. Yellow, small armoured tanks. Just be advised.

1344.16 POPOV35: Ahh shit.

1344.19 P0POV35: Got a - got a smoke.

1344.21 LIGHTNING 34: Hey, POPOV34, abort your mission. You got a, looks we might have a blue on blue situation.

1344.25 POPOV35: Fuck. God bless it.

1344.29 POPOV35: POPOV 34.

1344.35 POPOV35: Fuck, fuck, fuck.

1344.36 MANILA 34: POPOV34, this is MANILA 34. Did you copy my last, over?

1344.39 POPOV35: I did.

1344.47 POPOV35: Confirm those are friendlies on that side of the canal.

1344.51 POPOV35: Shit.

1344.58 MANILA 34: Standby POPOV.

1345.04 POPOV36: God dammit.


1344.25 MANILA 34: OK POPOV. Just west of the 3-4 easting. On the berm up there, the 3422 area is where we have our friendlies, over.

1344.39 POPOV35: All right, POPOV 35 has smoke. Let me know how those friendlies are right now, please.

1344.45 MANILA 34: Roger, standby.

1344.49 POPOV35: Gotta go home dude.

1344.50 POPOV36: Yeah, I know. We're fucked.

1345.54 POPOV35: Shit.

1346.01 POPOV36: As you cross the circle, you are 3 o'clock low.

1346.03 POPOV35: Roger.

1346.12 POPOV35: POPOV 35 is bingo. Let us know what's happening.

13446.15 MANILA HOTEL: Roger. We are getting that information for you right now. Standby.

1346.20 POPOV36: Fuck.

1346.47 MANILA 34: POPOV, this is MANILA 34 over.

1346.51 POPOV35: Go.

1346.55 MANILA 34: POPOV 4, MANILA 34 over.

1347.01 POPOV35: Go.

1347.02 MANILA 34: We are getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over.

1347.09 POPOV35: Copy. RTB (return to base).

1347.18 POPOV35: I'm going to be sick.

1347.24 POPOV36: Ah fuck.

1347.48 POPOV35: Did you hear?

1347.51 POPOV36: Yeah, this sucks.

1347.52 POPOV35: We're in jail, dude.

1347.59 POPOV36: Aaaahhhh.

1348.12 SKY CHIEF: MANILA this is SKY CHIEF over.

1348.18 MANILA34: This is MANILA 34, send SKY CHIEF.




1348.41 SKY CHIEF: Relaying for TWINACT, the A-10s are running against friendlies.

1348.47 COSTA58: POPOV 35, this is COSTA58. Relaying message for TWINACT. Abort, abort.

1348.54 SKY CHIEF: MANILA how copy A-10s are running against friendlies. Abort. Over.

1349.07 COSTA58: From TWINACT, abort, abort.

1349. 11 POPOV35: POPOV 35 aborting.

1349.14 COSTA58: We will relay that back to TWINACT.

1349.18 POPOV36: Fuck. God fucking shit.

1350.21 POPOV36: Dammit. Fucking damn it. 1351.17 P0POV36: God dammit. Fuck me dead (weeping).

1351.25 POPOV35: You with me?

1351.27 POPOV36: Yeah.

1351.30 POPOV35: They did say there were no friendlies.

1351.33 POPOV36: Yeah, I know that thing with the orange panels is going to screw us. They look like orange rockets on top.

1351.48 POPOV35: Your tape still on?

1351.49 POPOV36: Yeah.

1351.54 POPOV35: Mine is end of tape.

Transcript ends.

Samstag, 3. Februar 2007

First US officer since Vietnam goes on trial for speaking out

Eager recruit turned critic faces military prison after refusing to fight

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Saturday February 3, 2007, The Guardian

On the eve of America's invasion of Iraq, he was heartsick at the prospect that he might not be military material. He even shelled out $800 for medical tests to convince the recruiters that he was fit for duty despite childhood asthma that would ordinarily render him ineligible for service.

On Monday, that same eager recruit, now Lieutenant Ehren Watada, faces a court martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq and for making public statements against the war. He is the first officer to be prosecuted for publicly criticising the war - indeed the first since the Vietnam era when an army captain was court martialled for addressing an anti-war demonstration outside the US embassy in London. If he is convicted on all charges, Lt Watada could spend four years in a military prison.

In that trajectory from eager recruit through disillusion to dissent is a transformation that mirrors and resonates with an American public at a point when it too has turned against the country's involvement in Iraq, making Lt Watada a hero of the anti-war movement.

His prosecution was also seen as an issue of free speech after two journalists were subpoenaed to testify against Lt Watada on two additional charges. Those charges were dropped this week.

Lt Watada, 28, argues that to serve in Iraq would betray his conscience and his duties as an officer. "It would be a violation of my oath because this war to me is illegal in the sense that it was waged in deception, and it was also in
violation of international law," he told the Guardian. "Officers and leaders have that responsibility to speak out for the enlisted and certainly when we do so it comes with more consequences, which is what a leader should do. A leader can't just go with the crowd.

Lt Watada decided a year ago that he would not serve in Iraq. Since then he has spoken out at press conferences and to veterans' groups. These actions infuriated military officials, who have charged him with conduct unbecoming an officer for publicly saying that service in Iraq would make him party to a war crime, and for suggesting that soldiers could bring the war to an end by throwing down their weapons.

Lt Watada is not the first soldier to voice his objections to the war in Iraq. A number of enlisted men have publicly refused to serve there, citing conscientious objection. Thirteen have sought refugee status in Canada. Thousands more have gone AWOL. Last year, six senior generals, including some who had served in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, demanded that Donald Rumsfeld, then Pentagon chief, stand down.

But Lt Watada is in none of those camps and he does not claim to be a
conscientious objector. He decided to go public with his opposition to the war,
a choice his civilian lawyer, Eric Seitz, believes singled out Lt Watada for
prosecution. "They decided at a lower level to make an example out of Lt
Watada," he said. "It was this kind of questioning and resistance that ended up
destroying the ability of military forces to fight in Vietnam and they are very
concerned about a repetition of that."

Lt Watada's objections to the war are unlikely to be aired at his court martial. The judge has narrowed the scope of the trial and refused defence witnesses.

The Pentagon maintains that Lt Watada gave up his right to free speech when he put on the uniform. "As a soldier you are held to a different standard. You can't go and say things that are going to offend the order and discipline of the military," said Joseph Piek, a spokesman at Fort Lewis, Washington, where Lt Watada is to stand trial. "Soldiers understand that you can't divorce yourself from being a soldier."

That view is also shared by the retired generals who spoke out last year.

"He is wearing the uniform," said General John Batiste, who left the army in protest at Mr Rumsfeld's leadership. Lt Watada's criticism falls into a different category because he was still on active duty. "Discipline is fundamental in a military organisation and officers swear to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and obey the officers appointed over them."


"Certainly I joined the military already knowing that we were about to enter a war in which there was some notable opposition," Lt Watada said. "But when the administration comes out and says the threat was imminent and that Saddam has
weapons of mass destruction and that he has ties to al-Qaida and therefore he has the means to attack us at any point, I remember telling my father: 'You know, we should give them the benefit of the doubt.'"

He shipped out to South Korea in June of that year. By the time his unit returned to the US in June 2005, American public opinion had already begun to turn against the war. But Lt Watada's conversion did not start until several months later when he began reading up on Iraq in preparation for a tour of duty.

"It was so shocking to me. I guess I had heard about WMD and that we made a terrible, terrible mistake," he said. "Mistakes can happen but to think that it was deliberate and that a careful deception was done on the American people -
you just had to question who you are as a serviceman, as an American."

Early last year, Lt Watada took his doubts to his commanding officer, hoping he would be allowed to retire quietly. He also offered to serve in Afghanistan. Both options were refused although the military did offer him a safe berth in Iraq - which he turned down.

Lt Watada accepts that refusing orders on the battlefield would lead to chaos. "In a pitched battle of course you can't have soldiers saying 'oh, no I don't feel like covering that sector right now.'" But he refuses to believe that the dissent of a junior officer would destroy army morale, or threaten control of America's military, and he was not willing to wait until he was out of uniform to speak out. Someone had to speak out, he argues.

"Everybody is scared there is going to be a coup if the military does not bow down to civilian control, but that does not mean to bow down blindly," he said.

"A general can still resign in protest publicly, and not be subverting civilian control. He can be sending a message, and I think it would be a huge message if it was someone on active duty. But these guys wait until they retire and their pension is secure."

He added: "I wish it didn't have to be me. I wish the generals hadn't put me in this position."

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