NATO Admits Missile Hit a Civilian Home in Tripoli

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NATO acknowledged Sunday that an errant missile had destroyed a civilian home in the Libyan capital in the early morning, saying it may have killed civilians. It was the alliance’s first such admission in the three-month-long campaign of airstrikes against the military forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Reporters taken to the site and a nearby hospital saw at least five bodies, including those of a baby and a child. Libyan officials said at least four more civilians were killed.

The episode was NATO’s second admission of a mistaken strike in two days....

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaAmerica/U.S.A.Australia / NZEngland / UKEurope

Posted June 19, 2011 at 6:00 pm

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1. carl wrote:

NATO officials have been talking openly of strains in the Libyan operation. In Washington, the mistaken strikes could bolster Congressional criticisms that the operation is too unfocused or too dependent on ill-equipped European allies.

This kind of stuff happens.  You have to accept that it will happen in any military operation.  People make mistakes.  Weapon systems malfunction.  It could be as simple as the transposition of two digits on a target coordinate.  This is tragic, but it should not be used to impeach the conduct of the operation. 

Otherwise ...  “the operation is too unfocused or too dependent on ill-equipped European allies.” 

Heh.  Are you reading this, MichaelA?


June 19, 8:57 pm | [comment link]
2. billqs wrote:

While there are several things that bother me about this whole Libyan adventure and how it’s been handled particularly by the administration at home, Carl is correct in saying that any military operation is going to produce some civilian casualties.  I’m not attempting to be callous, but there’s just no avoiding it. 

I think it’s one of the factors you have to weigh before going to war, which is what is going on whether the Administration is willing to admit it or not.

June 19, 11:30 pm | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

It can’t be.  Obama says “U.S. operations in Libya ‘do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces.’”  So it must not have happened.

But if it did and things were blown up and people killed, non violently of course, then Carl is right.  War is a messy nasty business and never as clean and sanitary as politicians like to pretend.  That’s why we have the people’s representatives declare and authorize war.  Of course some politician’s, like tin pot dictators and such, can’t be bothered with such things.

June 20, 5:56 am | [comment link]
4. Mitchell wrote:

“U.S. operations in Libya ‘do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces.’”  So it must not have happened.”

I’m confused.  The missile was launched from a plane under the control of NATO.  Is there evidence American forces were involved in this strike?  It appears from the article this strike was conducted by planes supplied by one of the European NATO members.

June 20, 1:55 pm | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

The US is an integral part of NATO.  Indeed the major part.  But then Obama should have no problem in ending the illegal US involvement in this aggressive war being waged by NATO sense we are not a part of it.

June 20, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

Hi Carl, I just saw this now, and your comment at #1. Since for some reason you specifically referred to me, I am happy to respond.

I don’t follow your point, but perhaps you can explain it to me: You have referred to this case of an aerial weapon hitting civilians in Libya, and also a quote that sounds like it comes from Gates a couple of weeks ago: “the operation is too unfocused or too dependent on ill-equipped European allies.” 

Assuming that this was a European weapon (which is likely to be the case, since the US has had little front-line involvement in the Libyan campaign), are you then suggesting that the fact of an air-to-surface weapon hitting civilians is proof that the relevant air force was “ill-equipped”?

Let’s consider the implications of this, by comparing with the following incidents from Afghanistan:
* In 2002, four Canadian soldiers were killed by a laser-guided aerial bomb.
* In 2006, a Canadian soldier was killed when his convoy was strafed by A10s, and a Royal Marine was killed when his trench was strafed by an F18.
* In 2007, three British soldiers were killed by a weapon from an F15.

Guess which “ill-equipped air force” all these weapons came from?

These are just cases of friendly-fire kills - If we were to look at friendly fire woundings or civilian deaths from air force activity in Afghanistan, we would be here a long time.

The mere fact that some civilians have been killed by an aerial weapon in LIbya tells us precisely nothing about the equipment of the relevant air force. I suggest waiting for more information before jumping to conclusions.

June 20, 8:58 pm | [comment link]

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