View Full Version : Confusion, 'fog of war', played role in Iraq ambush, report says

07-10-03, 11:41 AM
Confusion, 'fog of war', played role in Iraq ambush, report says

By Pauline Jelinek
7:46 a.m., July 9, 2003

WASHINGTON An Army report on the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company in Iraq says fatigue, bad communications and other difficulties arising in "the fog of war" all factored into the deaths of 11 and capture of six, including still hospitalized Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

The 15-page report answers some questions but leaves still under investigation parts of an incident that is perhaps the most publicized of the war though shrouded in secrecy and the subject of numerous conflicting reports.

It makes no recommendations for discipline. Instead, the report merely lays out a series of events from the time the unit left Kuwait behind invading combat forces until the time of the incident March 23.

"The report is intended to answer 'what happened?' it is not to second-guess tactical decisions members of the unit made during the attack," the Army said.

Lynch received numerous injuries and at least one comrade was killed after their Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed into another vehicle in their convoy at a speed of roughly 45 mph, officials said.

Initial reports incorrectly said Lynch emptied her rifle fighting off Iraqis before being captured, and that she had been shot and stabbed.

Though it had been reported that the unit took a wrong turn at a checkpoint and strayed into hostile territory, the convoy actually mistakenly went straight toward the town of Nasiriyah when it should have turned, one official said.

Officials believe a soldier at the checkpoint may have waved them in that direction, but investigators don't know who that was or why it happened, said the official, who discussed the report only on condition of anonymity.

"After they made that initial error, everything was compounded," the official said.

It was when the group was doubling back that it was attacked, officials have said.

In the investigation, "it was very important to keep in mind the factors of fatigue, the intense pace of operations and the confusion, lack of information and misinformation that occurs in the fog of war," the Army said. Investigators drew information from witness statements and other sources and the Army has briefed families of the captured and killed on the findings.

The (Portland) Oregonian said in Wednesday editions that families of fallen soldiers gave the newspaper a copy of the report, saying they're frustrated that no one likely will be disciplined. The newspaper said the unit's commander was exhausted and confused and inadvertently led the convoy into an Iraqi stronghold, a mistake compounded by jammed rifles, failed radio communications and a decision not to equip individual soldiers with grenades and anti-tank weapons.

The Washington Times reported Wednesday that the company's senior enlisted soldier, 1st Sgt. Robert Dowdy, worked furiously to reorganize the convoy so it could make a retreat, trying to motivate other soldiers.

He died at the scene, while Humvee driver, Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa was taken to the same Iraqi hospital as Lynch and later died of her injuries, the newspaper reported.

Congressmen briefed on the investigation have said the commander was working with only a photocopy of a map, communications were spotty and the convoy had been on the road for 60 hours, all adding to the unit's problems.

The company left Camp Virginia in Kuwait in a convoy to support the 3rd Infantry, which was heading north. Their heavier vehicles had trouble keeping up as they traveled through desert terrain. Also, they were responsible for stopping to repair vehicles that broke down.

The distance between the main convoy and the support units grew larger, and soon bringing up the rear spotty communication with the lead convoy elements, said officials who have seen the report.




07-10-03, 08:35 PM
I have a question or 2 about the rescue from the hospital in Nasyhria (sp). It has widely reported in Britian & elsewhere that the troops stromed into the hospital, m-16's blazing, but firing blanks. I never fired blanks while on active duty, or anywhere else for that matter, but I always thought you had to use an adapter, a Blank Firing Adapter, in order to have enough gas pressure to extract the spent cartridge & to chamber a new round. As I understand it, it isn't something you can hide, since it is installed on the muzzle in plain view. I didn't see anything unusual on the m-16's being carried in the news footage of the rescue. Someone knowlegable want to elaborate on this for me please?

07-10-03, 08:51 PM
You are 100% correct on the use of an adapter. I'm sure you knew that.

It sounds more like a "spin" on the facts by the British news media.They have not been to warm to the war effort conducted by us and the British leadership.

They should stick to the tabloids where thier far reaching bull ship might sell.


07-10-03, 09:01 PM
How large is the adapter? How long exactly does it take to install & removve? What would happen if you encountered hostiles while using an adapter and started firing standard nato rounds with the adapter still installed ? Anyone notice one on any of the weapons from the video of the rescue? thanks

07-10-03, 09:16 PM
1.( How large?) The one's we used for training were about 1 1/2" not counting the tee handle screw and were painted red.
2. (Install and remove?) Very little time, say less then a minute.
3. (Firing with the adapter?) You would be in deep doo. That would probally explode the chamber or the barrel.
4. (Notice one?) Not me.

07-12-03, 07:12 PM
Why would Marines be firing blanks in a combat zone? Thin, very thin!! Marines don't even use blanks in training in unsecure areas. Firing a live round with a BFA on the weapon would be disatorous.