Italy says stress and inexperience of US soldiers played a..




 
--
Boots
 
May 3rd, 2005  
Xion
 

Topic: Italy says stress and inexperience of US soldiers played a..


Italy says stress and inexperience of US soldiers played a role in killing of Italian agent in Iraq

http://www.boston.com/dailynews/122/...nexperi:.shtml

ROME (AP) Italian investigators blamed U.S. military authorities for failing to signal there was a checkpoint ahead on the Baghdad road where American soldiers killed an Italian agent, and concluded in a report released Monday that stress, inexperience and fatigue played a role in the shooting.

The investigators found no evidence, however, that the March 4 killing of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was deliberate. The Italians also didn't object to many of the findings of fact contained in a separate American report made public Saturday.

Still, they refused to sign off on the U.S. conclusion that the soldiers bore no blame for Calipari's death. For example, while the American investigators said the car was traveling more than 50 mph, the Italians said it was going half that speed.

The two sides issued separate reports after a joint investigation.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a staunch American ally, has faced political fallout in Italy over the rift, including calls to bring home the country's 3,000 troops from Iraq. Berlusconi is scheduled to address both houses of parliament on the case Thursday.

Calipari was killed just after he secured the release of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from Iraqi militants who held her hostage for a month. U.S. soldiers fired on the Italians' vehicle as it approached the checkpoint on a particularly dangerous road near Baghdad's airport. Sgrena and another Italian agent were wounded.

''It is likely that the state of tension stemming from the conditions of time, circumstances and place, as well as possibly some degree of inexperience and stress might have led some soldiers to instinctive and little-controlled reactions,'' said Italy's 52-page report.

The U.S. investigators, in their report, said the American soldiers gave adequate warning, beaming a light and firing warning shots, as the car traveled toward the airport. Their absolving the U.S. soldiers of any wrongdoing sparked outrage in Italy, where Calipari had been hailed as a hero.

The Italian report stressed that the American soldiers failed to provide warning there was a roadblock ahead. There were no signs, bright cones, concertina wire or anything else to inform drivers they were approaching a checkpoint, it said.

The American report downplayed the issue of warning signs before the roadblock.

The Italian report, written by a diplomat and a general assigned to Italy's secret services, said no measures were taken by U.S. officials to preserve the scene of the shooting. It said the car carrying Sgrena and the agents was removed before its position was marked, for example. The soldiers' vehicles also were moved.

''That made it impossible to technically reconstruct the event, to determine the exact position of the vehicles and measure the distances, and to obtain precise data defining the precise trajectory of the bullets, the speed of the car and the stopping distance,'' the report said.

The report also said that an Italian general was denied access to the shooting site immediately after the slaying and that duty logs were destroyed after the soldiers' shifts.

There was no immediate comment from Berlusconi, but one of Italy's center-left opposition leaders, Vannino Chiti, said the Washington must now address Italian concerns over the shooting.

''Now, it's fundamental to insist from the United States equal dignity in the relation between allies to avoid a crisis between the two nations,'' said Chiti, who opposes the presence of Italian troops in Iraq. ''We'll be waiting for a clear word about everything from the government Thursday.''

The Pentagon didn't immediately comment. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, speaking before the report was issued, said Italy and the United States still have ''excellent'' relations.

''I think it's important to remember that we and the Italians did conduct a joint investigation, that we reached agreement on many, many points of fact and the circumstances of the very tragic events in which Mr. Calipari lost his life,'' Boucher said.

From the first hours after the shooting, the two sides had disagreed on whether there was adequate warning before the shooting and on the speed of the vehicle. The Americans insisted the Toyota Corolla was going fast enough to alarm the soldiers, but the Italians said the car was not speeding. Both sides based their estimates on circumstantial information.

Italy and the United States have publicly differed over other crucial points, including whether or not the Italians had told U.S. officials why they were in Iraq. When several days of negotiations failed to yield a common report, both sides went their own way.

Both reports agreed that about 20 minutes before the shooting, an Italian officer who was the coalition forces' second-in-command in Iraq confirmed to his American aide that the flurry of activity along the airport road had something to do with the Italian journalist.

The Italian then told the American that it was best that no one should know. The American interpreted that statement as an order not to divulge that information.

The U.S. report contained many blacked-out portions, including the names of the soldiers at the checkpoint and their units. But because of an apparent error, what was blacked out in the report could be read on the Web site of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Some of the material that had been blacked out also discussed training for checkpoint duty and checkpoint procedures.

The U.S. military said it regretted the faulty posting.

''We need to improve our procedures. We regret this happened. We obviously didn't take sufficient precautions,'' said U.S. Air Force Col. Donald Alston, a spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Baghdad. He added that some of the leaked information appeared classified.

The Italian report does not name the American soldiers, identifying them by codes.

Their report noted that the Americans gave several reasons for the lack of warning signs before the roadblock. Among them was that the signs belonging to that U.S. unit were in the hands of ''technicians'' charged with covering with tape material deemed offensive to civilians.

For a sign that read ''Stay back 100 meters or you will be shot,'' they were to cover up with tape ''or you will be shot,'' according to the American report.

According to U.S. officials, the Army National Guard soldiers in charge of the traffic-blocking position near Baghdad airport had been reassigned to patrol the airport road just two weeks before the shooting.

Their unit previously had operated in Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, where their main mission was to conduct patrols in search of insurgents who had launched attacks on U.S. military bases.

The U.S. report on the incident said the soldiers had received training on what the military calls ''rules of engagement,'' defining how they respond to threats, as part of their deployment preparation at Fort Hood, Texas, and the National Training Center in California.

They were further trained upon arrival in Kuwait last fall, and in February they received refresher training on the rules of engagement, including a briefing on positive identification, which requires soldiers to have ''reasonable certainty'' that an object they attack is a legitimate military target.

The U.S. report makes clear that the soldiers were operating a traffic-blocking, rather than traffic-controlling, point. The difference is that the object of blocking traffic is to ensure that no vehicle proceed past a given point in this case the onramp to the road leading to Baghdad airport.

Although they had training and experience in operating traffic control points, where cars are stopped and searched, the U.S. investigators said they found no evidence that the soldiers were trained to run blocking positions before their arrival in Iraq. The soldiers ''learned and practiced'' how to run blocking positions from Feb. 5-15, after relocating from Taji.

The Italian report said investigators found there was lots of confusion among officers and soldiers regarding the rules and procedures governing blocking positions.

AP Military Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report from Washington.
May 3rd, 2005  
A Can of Man
 
 
"For a sign that read ''Stay back 100 meters or you will be shot,'' they were to cover up with tape ''or you will be shot,'' according to the American report. "

Political correctness kills.
May 3rd, 2005  
Missileer
 
 
I can't imagine those nasty soldiers being stressed just because an unknown vehicle was approaching their checkpoint at a high rate of speed and refused to stop. As many soldiers have been killed in just that manner as by gunfire. I say stop the car before it reaches critical kill distance except they sholud have used a grenade launcher.
--
Boots
May 3rd, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
Hmm, here's a real hard question; gee, a roadblock - perhaps I should come to a stop?
May 4th, 2005  
Xion
 
Quote:

The Italian report stressed that the American soldiers failed to provide warning there was a roadblock ahead. There were no signs, bright cones, concertina wire or anything else to inform drivers they were approaching a checkpoint, it said.

Quote:

The Italian report, written by a diplomat and a general assigned to Italy's secret services, said no measures were taken by U.S. officials to preserve the scene of the shooting. It said the car carrying Sgrena and the agents was removed before its position was marked, for example. The soldiers' vehicles also were moved.
''That made it impossible to technically reconstruct the event, to determine the exact position of the vehicles and measure the distances, and to obtain precise data defining the precise trajectory of the bullets, the speed of the car and the stopping distance,'' the report said.

Quote:
The report also said that an Italian general was denied access to the shooting site immediately after the slaying and that duty logs were destroyed after the soldiers' shifts.

Quote:


Although they had training and experience in operating traffic control points, where cars are stopped and searched, the U.S. investigators said they found no evidence that the soldiers were trained to run blocking positions before their arrival in Iraq. The soldiers ''learned and practiced'' how to run blocking positions from Feb. 5-15, after relocating from Taji.



Quote:


The Italian report said investigators found there was lots of confusion among officers and soldiers regarding the rules and procedures governing blocking positions.

May 4th, 2005  
Missileer
 
 
Sure there's a lot of confusion in a war zone, that's why civilians should not be there, especially troublemaking varieties with trumped up charges and ideas. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CAN"T WAIT TO KILL OUR SOLDIERS, STAY OUT!!!
May 4th, 2005  
A Can of Man
 
 
It's not that hard to figure out the system. Hundreds and thousands of Iraqis do it every day
May 4th, 2005  
Xion
 
I think you should read my post in which I have marked the Italian views in quotes, there's doubt that the system which you are talking of was existing in the first place
It must be very sad for the Italians, imagine someone just rescued a hostage from a bunch of islamic terrorists who would behead the hostage, and then the hero who showed exemplary courage in saving the hostage's life dies a chicken's death... from troops which were on their side itself
May 4th, 2005  
RnderSafe
 
 
The US investigation has been released to the public for anyone interested in a real report. I will not post it as there are some OPSEC issues thanks to a mistake made by a desk jockey.

Quote:
It must be very sad for the Italians, imagine someone just rescued a hostage from a bunch of islamic terrorists who would behead the hostage, and then the hero who showed exemplary courage in saving the hostage's life dies a chicken's death... from troops which were on their side itself
The article you quote is rife with assumptions and leading comments.

Below are excerpts from the official US report.

Quote:
1. (U) 5 March 2005 Report
(U) Photographs of the incident scene were taken in the hours after the incident by Combat Camera personnel, as advised by CID personnel. (Annexes 32K – 69K). The exact locations of the three incident vehicles could not be determined since the two HMMWVs had been moved upon transporting Ms. Sgrena to the Combat Support Hospital, and the car had been moved during cleanup efforts at the site. (Annex 5I).
2. (U) 11 March 2005 Report
(U) The forensic investigation of the incident scene conducted on the morning of 11 March 2005 provided the following distances between relevant points based on GPS measurements3 :
• (U) Blocking vehicle to Alert Line – 389 feet, 7 inches (118.8 meters)
• (U) Blocking vehicle to Warning Line – 272 feet (82.9 meters)
• (U) Blocking vehicle to disabled vehicle stop point – 125 feet (38.1 meters)
• (U) Disabled vehicle stop point to Warning Line – 147 feet (44.8 meters)
33
(U) 3 The position of the Toyota was determined from photographs taken before it was moved during cleanup efforts. The blocking vehicle location comes from GPS readings provided by the Preliminary Investigating Officer based on witness statements regarding its position at the time of the incident.
UNCLASSIFIED UNCLASSIFIED
• (U) Disabled vehicle stop point to Alert Line – 264 feet, 7 inches (80.7 meters)
• (U) Alert Line to Warning Line – 117 feet, 7 inches (35.9 meters)

(Annexes 5I, 143K).
3. (U) 14 March 2005 Report
(U) A forensic examination of the car was performed after its removal from the scene. This analysis disclosed 11 entrance bullet holes. They are consistent with 7.62 mm bullets. Three bullets perforated the front section of the car at the bumper, right head light, and right fender. Two bullets perforated the windshield. Six bullets perforated the right side, right door, right front and rear passenger windows. No bullet holes or ricochet damage was noted on the car’s undercarriage. (Annex 1I).
(U) The trajectory analysis demonstrated that all 11 bullets came from one point of origin. The actual distance from the car to the machine gun could not be conclusively determined because of several variables: the grade of the curve and curvature of the roadway; depressions or elevations of the terrain; the lateral movement of the car; human reaction time, modulation of speed and braking by the driver; a flat tire; and lateral and vertical movement of the machine gun. The security situation at the incident site prevented examiners from visiting the scene. (Annex 1I).
Quote:
(U) The spotlight and green laser pointer had proven effective in stopping and turning around vehicles before the car with the Italians arrived at the on-ramp. Many of the vehicles, though, screeched their tires when stopping. While effective for accomplishing the mission, the spotlight and laser pointer may not be the best system from a civilian point of view. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 132C)
(U) XXXXXXXXXXX did not drop the spotlight until after he fired the warning shots, then immediately transitioned to two hands on his weapon as he fired the disabling shots. (Annexes 79C, 83C, 85C, 87C).
35 UNCLASSIFIED UNCLASSIFIED
(U) XXXXXXXXXXX spotlighted the car before it reached the Alert Line, fired warning shots as it reached the Warning Line, and fired on the vehicle in an attempt to disable it immediately after it crossed the Warning Line. (Annexes 79C, 87C, 129C, 134C).
(U) XXXXXXXXXXX was the only one to fire his weapon. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 85C, 87C, 89C).
(U) The car was traveling at approximately 50 mph as it crossed the Warning Line. (Annex 83C).
(U) Mr. Carpani did not apply his brakes until after the rounds began striking the car. (Annexes 104C, 105C).
(U) Given the cyclic rate of fire of the M240B, XXXXXXXXXXXXX's expertise with the weapon, and that only 11 rounds struck the vehicle with only five of those impacting the front of the car, it is highly unlikely that any shots were fired after the car came to a stop. (Annexes 79C, 6G, 1I, 3M).
(U) Both the blocking and overwatch vehicles were moved after the incident as directed by XXXXXXX XXXXXXX to transport Ms. Sgrena to the Combat Support Hospital. Both vehicles were needed to provide security for the move to the hospital. (Annexes 74C, 77C).
(U) The gunner complied with the Rules of Engagement. After operating the spotlight, and perceiving the on-coming vehicle as a threat, he fired to disable it and did not intend to harm anyone in the vehicle. (Annexes 79C, 83C).
(U) There were a number of unrelated events that had a role in the incident. These were: (1) bad weather forcing a VIP to convoy on Route Irish that evening vice the preferred method of traveling by helicopter; (2) communications problems involving a unit new to the AOR that caused the Soldiers to be left in position longer than expected; (3) the recovery of Ms. Sgrena being pushed back daily, for several days, to 4 March 2005; (4) the Italians did not know the Soldiers were at the on-ramp, and were not expecting any such roadblocks; and (5) the Soldiers did not know the Italians were traveling to BIAP. (Annexes 51C, 52C, 57C, 59C, 60C, 61C, 63C, 97C, 104C, 105C, 107C, 109C, 116C, 117C, 118C, 119C, 120C, 121C, 122C).
(U) Mr. Carpani was driving faster than any other vehicle observed by the Soldiers that evening. He failed to stop for the spotlight since he was not expecting a roadblock. Additionally, he was dealing with multiple distractions including talking on the phone while driving, the conversation in the back seat, trying to listen for threats, driving on a wet road, focusing on tasks to be accomplished, the need to get to the airport, and the excited and tense atmosphere in the car. (Annexes 104C, 105C, 125C, 140C). Any one of these would have affected his reaction time.
36 UNCLASSIFIED UNCLASSIFIED
Attempting to slander US soldiers by saying stress and inexperience caused their reaction is pathetic.

There was a lot of factors at play that evening, and it lead up to a tragic incident. It is a war zone, it happens. Trying to play blame game, especially by those sitting happily on the sidelines, is ridiculous.

The fact that nothing was coordinated is the bigger issue.
May 5th, 2005  
Xion
 
Berlusconi Disputes U.S. Report on Agent

http://abcnews.go.com/International/...C-RSSFeeds0312

Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday that he disagreed with some of the U.S. military's conclusions into the March shooting death of an Italian agent in Baghdad, but those differences would not affect Italy's deployment of troops in Iraq or its friendship with Washington.

Berlusconi told lawmakers that U.S. troops who fired on the agent's car from a checkpoint might be to blame even if they fired mistakenly.

"Indeed, the lack of deliberate action doesn't rule out blame attributable to negligence, imprudence or even simple incompetence," Berlusconi told lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies three days after Italy issued its own report concluding that soldiers' inexperience, stress and fatigue played a role in the fatal shooting.

He also complained, as Italian investigators have, that the scene of the shooting was not left untouched, although Berlusconi added that "the impartiality and good faith of the U.S. investigators cannot be questioned."

The U.S. report into the death cleared the soldiers of any blame. It said the car was speeding, did not heed warning lights and shots, and said better coordination between the Italians and Americans could have prevented the tragedy.

Berlusconi contended the temporary checkpoint set up along the dangerous highway to Baghdad airport was not properly marked.

The slain agent, Nicola Calipari, was escorting a freed hostage, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, to the airport. Sgrena and another intelligence agent in the vehicle were wounded in the shooting.

Despite the death and the disagreement over the circumstances of the shooting, Berlusconi said Italian troop deployment would continue.

"We have no intention of establishing any connection between the assessment of the case in which our official lost his life and the role of our country in Iraq," the premier said. "We must insist in our commitment and assist the forces of a free and democratic new Iraq."

Italy sent some 3,000 troops into Iraq to help with reconstruction despite widespread objections by citizens over military involvement there.

The slaying, as well as the American conclusions that the soldiers bore no responsibility for the death of the agent, angered Italians.

"Our friendship with the United States has overcome more difficult tests than this one," said the premier, a staunch ally of President Bush.

On Wednesday, Bush called him to again express regret over Calipari's slaying. Berlusconi's office described their conversation as "long and cordial."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the two leaders agreed that the episode would not harm "the strong friendship" between the two countries.

Opposition leader Romano Prodi, expected to run for premier in elections next year, has contended that while there was no direct link between a pullout and the Calipari case, it was time to discuss the end of the mission.

After Berlusconi spoke, lawmakers had their say in the chamber. One of them, Piero Fassino, a center-left opposition leader, demanded that the United States apologize.

Two months ago, Berlusconi said that if security conditions allowed and the other allies agree, some Italian troops might start coming home as early as September. But no timetable for the start of withdrawal has been set.

However, some Italian leaders are urging Berlusconi to think more actively about pulling out Italian troops. Cabinet Minister Roberto Calderoli called on the government earlier this week to "reflect on the timetable for an exit strategy."

Former seven-time premier Giulio Andreotti echoed those comments Thursday, telling the Senate the time had come to reflect on the mission's purpose and financing.

Calipari was shot at a checkpoint near the Baghdad airport less than an hour after he secured the release of Sgrena, who had been in the hands of her abductors for a month.

Rome prosecutors are conducting their own investigation into the case.

But a leading Italian military prosecutor, Antonio Intelisano, told The Associated Press on Wednesday it was unlikely U.S. soldiers would be prosecuted in Italy given legal restrictions and American protection of its troops in the past.