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Pentagon confirms 'errant strike;' investigations find no blame

Feb. 19, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
A screengrab from a video that allegedly shows a friendly aircraft dropping a bomb dangerously close to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
A screengrab from a video that allegedly shows a friendly aircraft dropping a bomb dangerously close to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. ()
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The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed the authenticity of a video that shows an errant Air Force bomb strike that occurred danger-close to a U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said the bombing took place in September 2012, and that it was a U.S. Air Force jet that dropped the bomb.

A safety investigation and a legal investigation both found that no one was negligent in the bombing and that it was “an errant strike,” Warren said.

Warren did not elaborate on findings of the investigations, but an anonymous defense official with knowledge of the incident told Army Times that coordinates for the outpost were mistakenly relayed to the pilot as the enemy position.

The video, posted Tuesday by Funker530.com, shows a purported 500-pound bomb dropped about 15 meters away from an outpost in Paktika province, Afghanistan. Miraculously, no Americans were wounded or killed.

“It was an accident,” Warren said. “Everybody was trying to do their jobs.”

The footage has already garnered tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments on social media.

Army officials have confirmed that the soldiers in the video belonged to 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

The incident is believed to have happened at an observation post at Combat Outpost Tillman, which has since been closed. The COP was named in honor of Cpl. Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in 2004.

The three-and-a-half minute video shows the soldiers preparing for an airstrike. According to the Funker530 website, the soldiers had been receiving harassing sniper fire for over a month.

The video opens with soldiers commenting on an incoming airstrike. You can hear an aircraft, but not see it, and the soldiers are told to “get small,” or take cover. Then, at the 18-second mark, you hear the bomb and soldiers hit the dirt. A number of expletives follow as soldiers try to figure out what happened.

“Honestly, we had dropped so many bombs up to that point that the thought never even crossed my mind that this could even happen, especially with all the checks put into place,” the camera man said in an interview posted on Funker530. “About a half second before impact you could hear the bomb screaming in like I hadn’t ever heard before, and I definitely knew at that point something was off. After the initial realization that it had hit behind us, we were so scatterbrained trying to figure out what happened. It hit so close to the guys in the tower it actually knocked the fill out of radios.”

The camera man said shrapnel had sheared holes into weapons in part of the outpost. He said the soldiers’ first sergeant had put everyone on “stand to,” ordering them into their fighting positions before the bomb was dropped. His call saved their lives, the soldier said.

“If it hadn’t been for the decision of the first sergeant, ... three of our guys would have died in that wood building,” he said.

Warren said that since the two investigations found no wrongdoing, there has not been any other action on the incident.

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