- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

A U.S. soldier who died during a recent mop-up operation in Afghanistan may have been killed by friendly U.S. fire, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said yesterday.
Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that the incident first reported as a combat casualty in Operation Anaconda is under investigation.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Stanley L. Harriman, 34, of Wade, N.C., was killed on March 2 when it was believed that hostile forces fired on a convoy of U.S. and Afghan forces.
An Air Force AC-130 gunship then reported hitting an enemy convoy with heavy-caliber gunfire nearby the same location.
The incident occurred on the opening night of operations against several thousand al Qaeda and Taliban fighters holed up in eastern Afghanistan's Shah-e-kot Valley.
Gen. Franks said, "The coincidence of the timing of the AC-130 strike and the strike on that convoy were in my view sufficient to cause me to ask the question" whether the U.S. gunship fired on friendly forces by accident.
"It was significant enough, coincidental enough that I thought we'd better take a look at it," the four-star general said. "So, we will eventually know exactly what happened, but right now I don't have the preliminaries."
The soldier was one of eight U.S. servicemen killed in action during the operation.
The disclosure of the possible friendly fire incident in March is one of 10 investigations being carried out by the Central Command into incidents of mistaken civilian casualties and the killing of friendly forces.
"The fact is we're never going to be able to absolutely eradicate the loss of life and in some cases the loss of the wrong life when we are engaged in these kinds of operations," Gen. Franks said. "If we're honest and we're sincere, we want to be lifelong learners from each one of these incidents."
In addition to the March 2 incident, nine other investigations were outlined in a statement by Central Command. Among these:
A Taliban military compound in Kabul was bombed on Oct. 16 and Oct. 26 and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) claimed it contained Red Cross facilities. The compound was not on a list of facilities provided by the ICRC to military planners before the war began.
A U.S. F/A-18 jet dropped a Joint Direct Attack Munition on Nov. 26 that injured friendly forces including five U.S. servicemen. The accident was attributed to incorrect targeting data from ground controllers.
U.S. helicopter gunships mistakenly attacked a ground force of U.S. Navy troops on Nov. 28 south of Kandahar. No injuries or damage to equipment was reported.
A U.S. B-52 bomber dropped a bomb on Dec. 5 that killed three U.S. servicemen and injured 20. The bombing is under review.
A direct-action mission Jan. 23 near Hazar Qadam against two suspected al Qaeda and Taliban compounds resulted in the deaths of 14 persons at one compound and two at another. An investigation found that friendly Afghans and not al Qaeda and Taliban troops were there.
The investigation concluded that "there were no systemic errors in the targeting process, mission planning or mission execution." The firefight was the result of the Afghans opening fire on U.S. soldiers.
A March 6 attack on a suspected al Qaeda leader traveling near Shikin, Afghanistan, led to 14 deaths and one wounded, including eight men, three women and three children. An investigation is under way.
In addition to the 10 investigations, several aircraft mishaps are being reviewed by the military services.


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