Two US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Drone Strike

The dramatic expansion of drone wars in various countries targeted by the US national security state, has at least in part been predicated on this notion that drones are “precision” killers and we have the ability to target single individuals instead of land ground troops and wage a wasteful face-to-face war with non-state, non-uniformed actors. Well, behold the exactitude of murder-by-remote-control:

In the first known case of friendly fire deaths involving an unmanned aircraft, Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, 26, and Navy Hospitalman Benjamin D. Rast, 23, were killed on April 6 by a Predator drone in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, after Marine commanders mistook them for Taliban.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the unreleased Pentagon report found that Marine officers on the scene and the Air Force crew piloting the drone from halfway around the world were unaware that analysts watching the live video feed from a third location in Terre Haute, Ind. had doubts about the identity of the targets.

Using a written chat system to communicate with the pilots, the analysts initially wrote that the two figures in question were “friendlies,” suggesting they were American troops. But a few seconds later, they changed their assessment, writing they were “unable to discern” who the figures were.

The report faults poor communications, mistaken assumptions and “a lack of overall common situational awareness,” but found that no one involved was “culpably negligent or derelict in their duties.”

The Times notes that the incident is similar to another Predator attack in 2009, in which a convoy of Afghan civilians was mistakenly targeted as Taliban.  In a lengthy investigation, the paper traced how a series of errors in communicating and interpreting surveillance information led to the deaths of 15 innocent civilians.

To recap, US drones in Pakistan have killed literally hundreds of civilians, including at least 168 children. Investigative journalist Noor Behram, on the ground in Pakistan for years counting civilian casualties from drones, estimated that for every 10 to 15 civilians, drone attacks kill one militant.

Note that the news of killing two American servicemen gets headlines. We are told their names, how old they are, their jobs, their rank. The bulk of those killed have not had such privileged status and treatment. We don’t know their names. Nobody cared to check.

  • Tom Mauel

    The news of two American service members killed by a drone strike gets headlines? Just where did you see that? As usual my local media the Minneapolis Star Tribune has nothing about this incident or any other US combat deaths. The only time combat deaths are reported at the Strib. are when it is a local soldier and even then it appears inside the paper or appears briefly on their web site.
    The Afghanistan war and US combat casualties are routinely ignored by corporate media. They are determined to keep the on going disaster of this war hidden from the public therefore it is imperative that alternative media like AntiWar provide this relevant information on the war in order to build public opposition. Unfortunately most of the writers at AntiWar evidently feel that since civilian deaths aren't reported than neither should US casualties. Therefore we rarely find US combat deaths, as they happen, reported any where. US combat deaths are not a positive for the US war effort. That is why they are kept hidden. And please report every civilian casualty possible.

    • flgeezer

      And have you observed the amount of press devoted to the freeing of that single Israeli "soldier"? It is a perfect object lesson in who controls the American media. And these same propagandists have been agitating for war with Iran since 9/12/2001.
      http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/20

  • Tom Mauel

    Also four US soldiers were reported killed by the Department of Defense on Thursday, October 13, 2011.
    Eleven US soldiers have been reported killed so far in October by the DOD.

  • rick

    We shouldn't accept the killings of "militants" either. After all, what is a militant? Any Arab male with a rifle? Anyone who resents occupation? We're never told and no one, NO ONE(!), asks or seems to care.

  • Tom Mauel

    I agree. But it is not an either or proposition. The problem is not that the media reports a US death but does not report civilian or insurgent deaths. The problem is corporate media rarely reports any deaths in Afghanistan. When they do report insurgent deaths it usually is a rounded estimate of 25 30 35. The majority of "insurgent"
    deaths are often found to be civilian on further investigation by alternative media but corporate media ignores these follow up reports with the true civilian casualty numbers.
    It is imperative that the alternative media report the very high, sustained, and almost daily US combat deaths in Afghanistan. Not to honor the deaths of these soldiers but to inform the American public because the corporate media has a near blackout of US combat deaths in Afghanistan.

  • Brenda

    I am glad that you people have the honor of free speech and being able to protest wars, thanks to men like my nephew, SSGT Jeremy D Smith, that was one of the two killed April 6th in that drone strke. He was on his 4th tour, so that YOU can have all the freedoms you do.
    You're welcome, on behave of a very proud aunt.
    Brenda

    • liveload

      "He was on his 4th tour, so that YOU can have all the freedoms you do"

      Nonsense! He died for nothing.
      Just another useless death amongst millions we've caused.

    • rick

      I'm terribly sorry for your loss Brenda. But I simply disagree. The only ones that can take away our freedom of speech is us. The biggest threat to American freedom (what little there is left), is the American government itself, and by extension the American people.

    • Todd S.

      It's a tragedy when someone dies. But some people living in a village on the other side of the planet (and who had absolutely no idea that you or I even exist) were most certainly not threatening any of our freedoms. Only the government that you live under has the power to take away your freedom.

    • MvGuy

      There is not freedom of speech in the U.S.

      "A six to three majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime for humanitarian groups to provide material support, including expert advice, to any individual who could potentially be connected to government-designated terrorist groups.

      Humanitarian groups had argued that this provision violated their First Amendment rights to provide nonviolent conflict resolution to groups that have terrorist designations but also work for humanitarian purposes. "

      "Humanitarian groups had argued that this provision violated their First Amendment rights to provide nonviolent conflict resolution to groups that have terrorist designations but also work for humanitarian purposes.

      Not only is it illegal to fight with the people being killed all over the world, it's a crime [in the U.S.] to tell them how to stop the murders of their neighbors….. If the Zionists owned congress should designate them "terrorists" for resisting their own genocide and the theft of their land!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I would like to mention the word conspiracy…. What is it but BANNED SPEECH…?????

      Sorry [Not So Smart] Brenda…. There IS no freedom of speech in the U.S. It died some time in the 60s… for the umteenth time….. & again when [legal] expert advice became a crime………. Illegal advice is apt to be conspiracy, or as in the case of the blind sheikh, treason…

    • curmudgeonvt

      Brenda, I'm sorry for the loss of your nephew. I'm sure he was doing what he wanted to do. But, it is people like you, who insanely believe that the troops are there fighting for our freedoms, who unknowingly (for most) prolong the war – and the loss of young American troops – and the deaths of thousands of innocent Afghani/Iraqi/Somali/Yemeni/etc., etc., etc. You get the picture?

      Continue to believe in the troops and mourn for your family but understand that they are doing what they are ordered to do by the Oligarchs in Washington and that the belief that they fight for our "freedoms" was/is a ruse to get the American people to support an unsupportable action – the invasion and occupation of another country that was of no threat to the US and our nominal "freedoms."

    • shelli trowbridge

      Thank you Brenda, and to your nephew and his family. My son is the army and has been deployed many times. People here seem very sure they know it all. If it wasn't for our troops and their families and the sacrifices they make there would be no website to say what ever you want. So sorry for your loss. SHelli

      • Jeremiah

        I'm not sure what waging war on impoverished Pashtun tribesmen, destroying secular Arab governments and raining down drone-delivered death upon who-really-knows-who has to do with First Amendment rights. A bunch of (rightly) angry third-world folks with rusty Kalashnikovs can't relieve you of your rights; but your own government can—and it is. But go ahead and believe in whatever flimsy myths help you sleep at night.

        The naked truth is that these two young soldiers died for filthy lies and filthier liars. You can babble on vaguely about "rights" and "sacrifice" all you like, but desperate rationalizations can never change horrible truths. Deep down, you probably know this.

  • libertarian

    US soldiers are worthless murderers and terrorists!

    • shelli trowbridge

      That's all you can say? How very sad.

      • libertarian

        is that all that you can say in response to the truth? what are you some kind of fascist or zionist?

  • Corazon Jones

    The Project for the New American Century (see google) should be mandatory reading to explain what US is doing
    Also read about Bilderberg Group who plan it.
    This is not paranoid fantasy

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