Patterico's Pontifications

11/26/2006

Another Ramadi Soldier Denies An Airstrike

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,War — Patterico @ 10:44 am



Badger 6 says:

On November 15, 2006 the LA Times ran this article, whereby the allegation is made that a US air strike in Ramadi, Iraq killed “at least 30 people, including women and children.” According to the article the attack took place “late Monday” and that American blockades prevented some of the injured from getting to medical attention.

One of the things that has struck me about being in a warzone is that horrible things can happen a block or two away and one can remain largely ignorant of what happened. But at the same time some things are so big, they simply cannot be missed. An air strike that kills 30 and “pulverizes 15 homes” is one of those things.

I was in downtown Ramadi that night; I have been in Ramadi when there have been air strikes; the bottom line is this – this event NEVER happened. It is completely fabricated.

According to his profile, he is “An Army Officer in Iraq commanding an Engineer Company.”

UPDATE: He adds:

Added: 26 November. When I say it NEVER happened, I am referring to the alleged air-strike by US forces in the city of Ramadi. There was combat in Ramadi that night, and I am sure that AIF was killed. There is pleny of violence in this country without people making things up.

UPDATE x2: Anonymous commenter “steve” is questioning the bona fides of blogger “Badger 6.” I have corresponded with “Badger 6″ today and know his real name. He has pinged me with his military e-mail, which ends in “usmc.mil.” And he tells me Bill Roggio will soon be there, and Bill will be able to verify that he is there in Ramadi.

UPDATE x3: The post has been updated again:

Wow – well I wanted this blog to take off, and evidently this story has helped it do just that. I have learned a few lessons about blogging through this experience. So let me clarify and expand a few things.

First this report and attempt to refute the LA Times story is completely from my first hand experience; I have talked to other Soldiers and checked around to verify and confirm my experience. I have deleted the characterization of being “downtown” that night as I have checked my records and realize that could be considered inaccurate. Additionally when you look at the state of this city then you would understand that characterizing any area as “downtown” would be problematic. To be more precise I was never further than 5 kilometers and never closer than 2 kilometers from where the alleged air strike took place. An air strike on that scale would certainly have gotten my attention at those distances.

But Badger 6, you say, you know that it is very difficult, if not impossible to prove a negative!! How can you say it NEVER happened?

Let me say this, the preponderance of the evidence from my own personal experience, and then a subsequent investigation leads me to believe the air strike portion of the story is a complete fabrication.

There are other parts of the story that true; there are also parts of the story that I doubt are true, but I have no way of verifying that they are not true and thus will not make the accusation that they are lies.

Some in the blogosphere have accused me of having an “agenda.” Well yes, I do, read the tenets of this blog; number one is supporting the mission. The mission will not be and has not been done perfectly, but the truth about it should be told. Let us not lie about it to further someone else’s agenda.

Did I use some hyperbole in describing how the LA Times editorial room reacts to US casualties? Maybe a little; but if you look at the LA Times news and editorial pages over the last several years, you will realize they are no friend of the US Armed Forces.

Thanks for that.

35 Responses to “Another Ramadi Soldier Denies An Airstrike”

  1. The whole thing “never happened?” No homes hit, no civilians hurt?

    What’s the guy’s name so someone can verify his deployment?

    Google provides a counterpoint in the form of a soldier who DOES give his name, Spencer Batchelder. He is rabidly anti-Bush. I would never take at face value his claim to be currently deployed in Ramadi and thus would never use him to impeach [or back up] a stringer’s version of events on November 13-14. He blogs, too.

    Too many ulterior motives.

    http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061109/REPOSITORY/611090340

    steve (ddf449)

  2. I think he’s talking about an airstrike, steve.

    As I said, I don’t think it’s fabricated that a bunch of people were killed.

    Patterico (de0616)

  3. The LA Times hates the US military. There is not a doubt in my mind that when a US Soldier is reported killed, a big cheer roles through the Editorial Room. – Badger 6

    Yeah, no bias there.

    Back when you inquired about Ramadi contacts, I asked if you’d use one opposed to the war and Bush policy.

    You said it didn’t matter.

    You’ve linked submissions from two anonymous soldiers, one quoted at length after complaining of U.S. media bias in general and charging the Solomon Moore’s of the world “give aid and comfort to my enemies.” None of which made your abstract.

    You actually believe soldiers deployed in Ramadi feel inspired to spontaneously comment on one newspaper story as opposed to wire reports filed almost simultaneously?

    steve (ddf449)

  4. Do you have a contact in Ramadi opposed to the war and Bush policy?

    If so, ask them whether there was an airstrike.

    In my post, I was very clear about the anonymity of the one soldier and my inability to verify his info.

    This one is obviously anonymous too (though I know his name) and he obviously doesn’t like the media, which is clear from the quote I gave.

    Patterico (de0616)

  5. Some men see things as they are and ask why? Others dream things that never were and ask, why not report these things as fact in my Los Angeles Times article?

    Wesson (c20d28)

  6. Do you have a contact in Ramadi opposed to the war and Bush policy?

    Not one whose deployment status I can verify.

    If I did cite such a blog post in rebuttal, I’d disclose any contacts I had with its author.

    steve (248482)

  7. Well, my contacts with him began today. I was just about to update to describe them. Will do now.

    Patterico (de0616)

  8. Thanks for the full disclosure.

    My real name is Steve. The lower-case fools a lot of people.

    steve (248482)

  9. Maybe we could have more soldiers reporting on what they do in Iraq. You know, so that we bypass filters.

    actus (10527e)

  10. Does anyone (even the LA Times) believe that the USA does not value the lives of Iraqi civilians?

    We have the power to decimate that country and would save the lives of many US soldiers if we brought our superior firepower to bear on areas where we suspect that insurgents are hiding among the civilian population. We don’t do it because we value the lives of Iraqi civilians, and want to turn a peaceful country over to them. Why would we change our policies after three years to destroy 15 houses? It is silly to think so.

    Mike S (2639a4)

  11. […] UPDATE: Patterico has received correspondence from a second soldier confirming that there was no air strike. […]

    BizzyBlog: The Business End of the Blogosphere » Patterico Investigates the LA Times’ Misreporting of an Incident at Ramadi (34f45e)

  12. Patterico, you’ve done a credible job on this story. You say you will report what you find, however the chips fall. AFAICT, you have done that here. It’s appreciated that you leave in qualifiers when you can’t be certain of something.

    AMac (791ff7)

  13. Patterico,

    This is from the U.S. Air Force CENTAF Air Power Activity Summary dated November 15, covering the previous 24 hours in both Afghanistan and Iraq:

    “In Iraq, U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18s conducted a strike against anti-Iraqi forces near Ramadi. The F/A-18s expended guided bomb unit-31s on enemy targets.”

    http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123031974

    Note: That’s “bomb unit-31s,” PLURAL and F/A-18s. Each munition costs around $23,000 (per GAO).

    You may ask whether CENTAF summaries reflect day-of or day-old data. The top line commences with the prior day’s activity, November 14, while items near the bottom are designated ‘November 13.’ Same pattern appears in all other CENTAF summaries, as you can see for yourself.

    The AP (12:43 pm EST November 14, 2006):

    “In other violence Tuesday, police and medical workers said at least 31 Iraqis were killed in overnight clashes in the western city of Ramadi, where U.S. ground troops and warplanes have conducted a series of operations over recent days targeting Sunni insurgents. U.S. forces had no immediate comment.”

    http://www.wral.com/apworldnews/10315093/detail.html

    There’s obvious ambiguity about what “recent days” meant.

    [steve, I’m intrigued by that report and I’m trying to follow up on what it means. I’ve sent a message to the Ramadi PAO and am trying to figure out a Marines contact to ask about it. Any ideas? I’m reluctant to e-mail CENTCOM about it because they specifically told me not to contact them again without credentials. I think that the report refers to something that happened Nov.14, which is what makes it intriguing. Note that the airstrike is supposed to have taken place “near” (not in) Ramadi. What does that mean? The 30 bodies, according to Reuters, came from al-Dhubat neighborhood in central Ramadi. So that doesn’t square up. I’ll probably update the post with this info tonight when I get home, but I’m hoping to get more input on what it means first. — P]

    steve (d5d31b)

  14. Perhaps one or more of the “guided bomb unit-31’s” went astray. We’ll never know.

    The military has a way of threading needles with press reports and leaving out what they don’t want in the media.

    I’m going with “combined air and ground assault” since it all took place the same day.

    steve (d5d31b)

  15. […] Like Patterico said about that L.A. Times airstrike story that’s imploding at an ever accelerating rate: I learned something important about reporting from Iraq in general. Big Media journalists often rely on sources that are unreliable. They don’t tell you the pressures these sources might be under from insurgents and terrorists. They refuse to tell you who their stringers are, so we can assess their motivations. They get quotes from doctors who seem to see only civilian deaths. If the military has been given insufficient time to respond to an allegation, these journalists don’t check with the military later, to verify that the story they’ve written is accurate. And sometimes, as here, their stories are completely at odds with numerous other accounts reported in other press outlets — and they seem to have no interest in finding out why. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Bombshell: Centcom says AP’s Iraqi police source isn’t Iraqi police (d4224a)

  16. I would call that CENTAF summary into question. It is highly unlikely that F/A-18s from 3rd MAW would be employing GBU-31s, much less in Ramadi. A GBU-31 is a 2000 lb GPS-guided bomb. I never worked with an aircraft carrying anything larger than a 500 lb bomb, and no one in my unit (whose primary role on our last deployment was terminal control of aviation-delivered ordnance) worked with aircraft carrying anything above 1000 lbs. They certainly did not employ 1000 and 2000 lb bombs in Ramadi.

    Lightning (752558)

  17. a 2000 lb bomb is a standard air force size and as a general rule of thumb it’s preferred over smaller versions if the desired weapons effects allow for it. I was air force and not navy so I can’t really speak for them, but I seem to recall that they were more likely to use 1000 lb ones.

    the Marines, I just don’t really remember, but I would think a 2000 lb would be fairly normal for them.

    That’s the long winded way of saying I flew an airplane that did that sort of thing and I would normally expect to carry 2000 lb bombs on that mission.

    tommy (c08ff9)

  18. […] All of this is on top of what Patterico has learned about the airstrike that the military says didn’t happen (with follow-ups here and here). […]

    BizzyBlog » The Burning Question (Figuratively and Literally): Is Reliance on Bogus and Compromised News Sources Slanting Iraq Coverage? (34f45e)

  19. My real name is Steve. The lower-case fools a lot of people.

    Cool. You’re like one of those one-name folks like Madonna or the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince (OK, that’s not such a good example, but you get the idea)?

    I’m still calling you anonymous.

    Patterico (de0616)

  20. Tommy, my statement was based off of more current information than yours. It still stands.

    Lightning (752558)

  21. 2,000 pounders for CAS?

    Greyhawk (983c65)

  22. “Badger 6″ revises: He says he was 2-5 km from the scene but should have been able to hear Marine F-18s dropping 2,000-pound bombs in the area. Something the military command confirmed one day later in its regular daily assessment, but which military flacks subsequently refute.

    Two statements from the MNF release appear to be unreconcilable with the evidence:

    There were no reports of civilian casualties as a result of the events.

    Coalition Forces have conducted no air strikes in the vicinity of these events today.

    Yeah, there were BOTH such casualty reports and vicinity air strikes.

    All this is offered to refute newspaper and wire service reliance on what they suggest were eyewitnesses at the scene.

    Patterico, I fear you’ve been hustled. And not so much by Badger 6, who appears to be a deployed Ramadi soldier, but by the PAO’s. Maybe you’re content with fine-tuning the “in” and “near” Ramadi narrative as your contacts fail to account for 30+ dead people.

    Why did Badger 6 feel compelled to revise at all? Was it the CENTAF disclosure? How could so many die in tank fire and there be no awareness at the camps?

    This mess all started with a blogger questioning the air strike. Patterico writes: “The fact that 30+ people died, if true, does not necessarily demonstrate the soldier’s account is false. Rather, it suggests that he may have been unaware of the full extent of the carnage caused by the shelling from the tanks.”

    Sorry. If you have no situational awareness or were 5 km from the scene, you can’t convincingly refute the stories which argue a combined ground and air assault. Best evidence, please.

    steve (249beb)

  23. If you have no situational awareness or were 5 km from the scene, you can’t convincingly refute the stories which argue a combined ground and air assault.

    steve,

    You appear to be referring to the AP story which has a passage you have quoted twice:

    Police and medical workers said at least 20 Iraqis were killed in clashes Tuesday in Ramadi, where U.S. ground troops and warplanes have conducted a series of operations over recent days targeting Sunni insurgents.

    You keep citing that, seemingly as evidence that there was an airstrike in Ramadi Nov. 13, simply because the same story discusses the casualties discussed in the LAT story.

    But it’s undeniable there have been ground and air assaults, and the story mentions an air assault on Saturday. This does not prove that one occurred in central Ramadi on Nov. 13.

    (Btw, the story is also by an AP reporter who has been repeatedly quoting an individual who claims to be an Iraqi policeman, but is not.)

    I am pressing the folks in the military for details regarding the contents of the airpower summary. They have acknowledged the inquiry and are working on it.

    Patterico (de0616)

  24. steve,

    At this point I think we have to wait for further facts to come in, but a couple of observations:

    1) I note that the airpower summary does not list a strike on Yusufiyah, yet a press release discusses an airstrike on terrorists in that area. Is Yusufiyah “near Ramadi”? I discussed that possibility with various people before publishing my original post because I was aware of that airstrike and press release. Many people told me that it would be wrong to say that that airstrike is “near Ramadi.” It’s in a different province and quite some distance away. But is that how the Yusufiyah strike is described in the airpower summaries? I don’t know. I do know this: that town is mentioned in neither the Nov. 13 or 14 summaries.

    2) Do you have any idea what a 2000 pound bomb hitting the ground would sound like?

    Methinks you are discounting Badger 6’s statement too glibly.

    Patterico (de0616)

  25. This does not prove that [an air assault] occurred in central Ramadi on Nov. 13.

    “Tuesday” was the November 14th.

    I have to think F-18’s on a vicinity bombing run after midnight is part of the operation.

    The response you get – if one is even tendered – will tell us whether the MNF press release was a fabrication or a sleight-of-hand parsing of terms.

    You quoted from Maj. Megan McClung’s email: “Thank you for your interest in setting the record straight on the events of Nov 13 -14. . . . There were no CF [Coalition Forces] air strikes that day.”

    Seems categorical. Most people would construe that as two days, not one. Are PAO’s that clever? Does anything between the elipses refer to civilian casualties? Good hunting.

    steve (249beb)

  26. “Thank you for your interest in setting the record straight on the events of Nov 13 -14. The below response to query was put together regarding the events – three separate but related incidents. There were no CF air strikes that day.”

    Further down the e-mail was a description of the tank battles described in press releases.

    Patterico (de0616)

  27. She also acknowledged the confused nature of the public reporting on the incident, with various descriptions having been given in the media for the casualties. She said it was all a source of frustration.

    Good hunting.

    Hunting is pretty much done for the day, until this evening. I don’t get much time.

    Patterico (de0616)

  28. Lest we forget, a brave soldier lost his life that day, November 14, in Ramadi.

    Eric Palacios-Rivera had graduated high school in Atlantic City in 2003. He never told his mom he was in Iraq.

    http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/atlantic_city/story/6941243p-6803880c.html

    Very touching story.

    steve (2b2eab)

  29. InfoShop has posted wire service photos of what are purported to be Ramadi homes destroyed in recent aistrikes (October 27, November 1).

    http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20061107211747583&mode=print

    The corresponding CENTAF daily summary confirms attacks on those dates but, once again, locates them “near Ramadi.” Reuters and AP cutlines each say “in Ramadi,” respectively. It appears to me to be an urban, built-up area.

    CENTAF:

    October 27:

    “In Iraq, an Air Force Predator and Marine Corps F/A-18Ds and AV-8Bs flew a strike against anti-Iraqi forces near Ramadi. The Predator fired a Hellfire missile on an enemy target.”

    http://www.thesop.org/index.php?id=2674

    November 1:

    “In Iraq Nov. 1, an Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets conducted strikes against anti-Iraqi forces near Ramadi. The Predator expended a Hellfire missile and the F/A-18s expended rockets and cannon rounds on enemy targets.”

    http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123030511

    From the photos, I think it would fair to say those houses were pulverized.

    Others will know more about the difference in destructive power between a single “Hellfire missile and rocket and cannon rounds” representing the earlier airstrikes – and the 2,000-pound “guided bomb unit-31s” dropped by F/A18s, November 13-14.

    One might conclude the Ramadi command greatly muscled up the attack model to send a stronger message the airstrikes days earlier hadn’t achieved.

    steve (435138)

  30. Weird that there are no photos of the 15-20 pulverized homes.

    Well, anyway, I have people who sound serious about getting back to me on the airpower summary and what it means for the military’s claim of no airstrikes.

    From Badger 6, it sure sounds like nothing happened in central Ramadi in the al-Dhubat neighborhood, as claimed by Iraqi Resistance Reports (i.e. insurgent propaganda). But what does “near Ramadi” mean? I don’t know. Your photos are interesting.

    Is your e-mail address for real? If I send you an e-mail, will you respond?

    Patterico (de0616)

  31. Part of the confusion may be the timezone and consequent date changes. CENTCOM is in Florida and I suspect that they use EST and EDT as “local” wall clock time, and it may be being used as their release time+date, while they copy Iraq times and dates for other things. IIRC Baghdad is UTC+3 hours, 8 hours ahead of EST (I don’t know their daylight savings rule, which would put them +4.)

    They probably have a canned paragraph about this you could ask about.

    htom (412a17)

  32. If I send you an e-mail, will you respond?

    Always glad to respond. Though I gather your inquiry goes to who I am and why I’m interested – which unbalances the playing field a bit. As long as it’s not internecine mischief, ask away. Also glad to just go away, if you like.

    steve (435138)

  33. I’m happy to have you around.

    Patterico (de0616)

  34. I am a soldier in Iraq.

    MY NAME IS WARD B MAYFIELD

    I run route clearance in the city of Ramadi. I do not recall an airstrike on the night in question. But I was in the city. I cannot say that it did not happen as I am not omniscient. But what I can say with a fervor is that I do not recall a massive “airstrike” on that night.

    Thank you,

    Spc Ward Mayfield

    Ward Mayfield (d92f38)

  35. […] LAT stringer was accused of having ties to the insurgency by someone purporting to be a US soldier; soldiers stationed in Ramadi claimed the airstrike was a complete fabrication. Investigating the incident, the blogger Patterico found that people with experience in Iraq noted […]

    Media Mythbusters Blog » Blog Archive » The Big Picture(s) [Karl] (d6d851)


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