- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002


U.S. military investigators have concluded that a U.S. soldier killed at the outset of a major battle against al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan in March was hit by American forces, not hostile mortars as was originally believed, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.

Chief Warrant Officer Stanley L. Harriman, 34, a native of Nixa, Mo., and a member of the Army's Special Forces, was the first of eight Americans killed in Operation Anaconda, the last major battle in Afghanistan. The seven others were killed when two U.S. helicopters took enemy fire from al Qaeda defenders.

The Pentagon originally said Chief Warrant Officer Harriman was killed by enemy mortar fire as his convoy of U.S. and Afghan forces moved into position at the outset of Operation Anaconda on March 2. But a subsequent investigation found that he was hit by gunfire from an Air Force AC-130 gunship that mistook his convoy for enemy forces, the senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Details of the investigation report, which is classified because of sensitive information about the AC-130 gunship, have not been made public.

Gen. Tommy Franks, who has run the war in Afghanistan from his Central Command headquarters, told reporters yesterday that the investigation report is in the hands of military lawyers. He said he had not yet seen it.

Another senior official, who discussed the matter on the condition of anonymity, said Central Command has declined to discuss the findings publicly because of sensitivity about the legal implications of "friendly fire" cases.

Two Air Force F-16 pilots who mistakenly bombed Canadian troops in Afghanistan in April, killing four Canadians, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty.

Shortly after Chief Warrant Officer Harriman's death, Gen. Franks said he had noticed that reports of a convoy of U.S. and Afghan forces coming under fire roughly coincided with reports of an AC-130 gunship attacking an enemy convoy. He ordered an investigation. He said yesterday that he will review the investigators' report when it reaches his desk.

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