Too many innocents killed with bombs

In an interview on CBC's The Current, military historian Geoffrey Reagan spoke about military actions during engagements of war.Specifically, "friendly fire" incidents were discussed.

Reagan explained that people lose confidence in their military when too many soldiers come home in body bags. That is why dropping bombs became a safer way to fight. But bombing, as a method of warfare, has been coming into disrepute because far too many innocent people are being killed.

"Pilots are going out of their way to achieve hits, even to engaging the enemy one step beyond his orders," he said. This leads to "one friendly fire incident too many."

He spoke of a time when the British suffered from a U.S. "friendly fire" error during the Gulf War. The British Armoured Division had Warrior Armoured Personnel Carriers, equipped with luminous paint and huge Vs to avoid such mistaken identity, travelling across the desert. They were totally unlike the much larger, Russian-built tanks used by the Iraqis, Reagan said.

"No British troops must be placed in the vicinity of U.S. Marines," Schwarzkopf had been told by the British Commander. Unfortunately, not all U.S. troops got the message. The British vehicles were bombed and nine British soldiers were killed.

"The British did not get an inquiry," Reagan said. "It would have threatened the coalition."

Reagan said that more than 90 per cent of all "friendly fire" events are by Americans.

He gave another example, telling how, when the U.S. invaded Grenada, they bombed a mental hospital that they said had been designated on their maps as a fort.

The Americans have long been criticized as "cowboys" with too much "mission zeal" -- just "too aggressive," Reagan noted.

There is a little-known story of the Americans even bombing the wrong country during the Second World War, he noted, relating a time when they bombed the neutral country of Switzerland so heavily that the Swiss shot down dozens of U.S. planes and impounded many.

Reagan said that elite servicemen, including pilots, need to receive training on how to have controlled aggression, how to better study situations before taking action.

Geoffrey Reagan is author of the book, Great Military Disasters.