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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire. Neither is murder, whether premeditated or in the heat of the moment, and nor is deliberate firing on one's own troops for disciplinary reasons, as in these cases there is no intent to harm the enemy.[1] Similarly, inadvertent harm to non-combatatants or structures, usually referred to as "collateral damage" is also not considered to be friendly fire.[2]

The term friendly fire was originally adopted by the United States military. Many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) militaries refer to these incidents as blue on blue, which derives from military exercises where NATO forces were identified by blue pennants, hence "blue", and Warsaw Pact forces were identified by orange pennants. Another term for such incidents is fratricide, a word that originally refers to the act of a person killing his brother.


Addressing friendly fire

Friendly fire is often seen as an inescapable result of combat. Attempts to reduce this effect by military leaders generally come down to identifying the causes of friendly fire and overcoming repetition of the incident through training, tactics and technology.


The primary cause of friendly fire is commonly known as the "fog of war" which attributes friendly fire incidents to the confusion inherent in warfare. Friendly fire that is the result of apparent recklessness or incompetence may fall into this category. The concept of a fog of war has come under considerable criticism, as it can be used as an excuse for poor planning, weak or compromised intelligence and incompetent command.

Fog of war incidents fall roughly into two classes:[1]

Errors of position
Where fire aimed at enemy forces accidentally ends up hitting one's own. Such incidents are exacerbated by close proximity of combatants and were relatively common during the First and Second World Wars, where troops fought in close combat and targeting was relatively inaccurate. As the accuracy of weapons improved, this class of incident has become less common but still occurs.
Errors of identification
Where friendly troops are mistakenly attacked in the belief that they are the enemy. Highly mobile battles, and battles involving troops from many nations are more likely to cause this kind of incident as evidenced by incidents in the first Gulf War, or the shooting down of a British aircraft by a U.S. Patriot battery during the Invasion of Iraq.[3] According to CNN, the best-known case of such an accident was the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, although the exact circumstances of that incident are yet to be definitively determined.[4]

A number of situations can lead to or exacerbate the risk of friendly fire. Poor terrain and visibility are major factors. Soldiers fighting on unfamiliar ground can become disoriented more easily than on familiar terrain. The direction from which enemy fire comes may not be easy to identify, and poor weather conditions and combat stress may add to the confusion, especially if fire is exchanged. Accurate navigation and 'fire discipline' is vital.[5]

In high-risk situations, leaders need to ensure units are properly informed of the location of friendly units and to issue clear, unambiguous orders, but they must also react correctly to responses from soldiers who are capable of using their own judgement. Miscommunication can be deadly. Radios, field telephones, and signalling systems can be used to address the problem, but when these systems are used to co-ordinate multiple forces such as ground troops and aircraft, their breakdown can dramatically increase the risk of friendly fire. When allied troops are operating the situation is even more complex, especially with language barriers to overcome.[5]



Most militaries use extensive training to ensure troop safety as part of normal co-ordination and planning, but are not always exposed to possible friendly-fire situations to ensure they are aware of situations where the risk is high. Difficult terrain and bad weather can't be controlled, but soldiers must be trained to operate effectively in these conditions, as well as trained to fight at night. Such simulated training is now commonplace for soldiers worldwide. Avoiding friendly fire can be as straightforward as ensuring 'fire discipline' is instilled in troops, so that they fire and cease firing when they're told to. Firing ranges now also include 'Don't Fire' targets.[6]

The increasing sophistication of weaponry, and the tactics employed against American forces to deliberately confuse them has meant that while overall casualties have fallen for American soldiers in the late 20th and 21st centuries, the overall deaths due to friendly fire in American actions have risen dramatically. In the 1990 Gulf War, most of the Americans killed by their own forces were crew members of armored vehicles hit by anti-tank rounds. The response in training includes recognition training for Apache helicopter crews to help them distinguish American tanks and armored vehicles at night and in bad weather from those of the enemy. In addition, tank gunners must watch under fire in drills for "friendly" robotic tanks that pop out on training courses in California's Mojave Desert. They also study video footage to help them recognize American forces in battle more quickly. [7]


Improved technology to assist in identifying friendly forces is also an ongoing response to friendly fire problems. From the earliest days of warfare identification systems were visual and developed into extremely elaborate suits of armour with distinctive heraldic patterns. When radar was developed during World War II, IFF systems to identify aircraft developed into a multitude of radio beacons.

Correct navigation is vital to ensuring units know where they are in relation to their own force and the enemy. Efforts to provide accurate compasses inside metal boxes in tanks and trucks has proven difficult, with GPS a major breakthrough. Government contractors are rushing to perfect infra-red and carbon dioxide laser beacons that can be mounted on armored vehicles and that will identify themselves to their own forces.[7]

Other technological changes include hand-held navigational devices that use satellite signals, giving ground forces the exact location of enemy forces as well as their own. The use of infra-red lights and thermal tape that are invisible to observers without night-goggles, or fibres and dyes that reflect only specific wavelengths are still in their infancy, but may prove to be key identifiers for friendly infantry units at night.

There is also some development of remote sensors to detect enemy vehicles - the Remotely Monitored Battlefield Sensor System (REMBASS) uses a combination of acoustic, sesmic vibration, and infrared to not just detect, but identify vehicles. [6]


Some tactics make friendly fire virtually inevitable, such as the practice of dropping barrages of mortars on enemy machine gun posts in the final moments before capture. This practice continued throughout the 20th century since machine guns were first used in World War I, and the high friendly fire risk has generally been accepted by troops since machine gun emplacements are tactically so valuable, and at the same time so dangerous that the attackers wanted them to be shelled, considering the shells far less deadly than the machine guns.[6] Tactical adjustments include the use of "kill boxes", or zones that are placed off-limits to ground forces while allied aircraft attack targets, which goes back to the beginning of military aircraft in World War I.[7]

The shock and awe battle tactics adopted by the American military - overwhelming power, battlefield awareness, dominant maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force - are employed because they are believed to be the best way to win a war quickly and decisively, reducing casualties on both sides. However, if the only people doing the shooting are American, then a high percentage of total casualties are bound to be the result of friendly fire, blunting the effectiveness of the shock and awe tactic. It is probably the fact that friendly fire has proven to be the only fundamental weakness of the tactics that has caused the American military to take significant steps to overturn a blasé attitude to friendly fire and assess ways to eliminate it.[6]

Historical examples

Wars of the Roses

  • 1461 – At the Battle of Towton, wind conditions resulted in arrows falling amongst friendly troops as well as the enemy.
  • 1471 - Battle of Barnet: The ‘radiant star’ battle standard used by the troops commanded by the Earl of Oxford was misidentified as an enemy standard (which depicted a ‘brilliant sun’) and were fired on by their own archers.
  • 1471 - Lancastrian division led by the Earl of Warwick, while out of position and in fog, fired at a division led by the Earl of Somerset, inflicting heavy casulties. This is one of the earliest recorded incidents of friendly fire.

Nine Years' War

  • 1690 - Two French regiments accidentally attacking each other during the Battle of Fleurus led to the habit of attaching a white scarf to the flags of the regiments - white being the colour of the kings of France.[citation needed]

Napoleonic Wars

  • 1796 – Battle of Fombio: Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe was killed by his own men while returning from reconnaissance.
  • 1801 - Battle of Algeciras Bay: Spanish ships Real Carlos and San Hermenegildo mistakenly engaged each other in the dark after a British ship sailed between them and fired at both. 1,700 were killed when the two ships exploded.
  • 1809 - Battle of Wagram: French troops mistakenly fired on their allies from the Kingdom of Saxony. The grey uniforms of the Saxons were misidentified as white, the colour of uniform worn by their Austrian enemy.
  • 1815 – Battle of Waterloo: Famously, Marshal Blücher's Prussians came to the aid of the British, and defeated Napoleon decisively. It is less well known that Prussian artillery mistakenly fired on British artillery causing many casualties, and British artillery returned fire at the Prussians.

American Revolutionary War

American Civil War

  • Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was wounded as a result of friendly fire and died eight days later. He and some of his men had been returning from an intelligence-gathering mission when Confederate troops mistakenly fired, thinking they were a Union patrol.
  • Confederate General James Longstreet was wounded by friendly fire on 6 May 1864, four miles from Chancellorsville, Virginia, and was unable to attend the rest of the Overland Campaign until he had recovered.

World War I

  • During the attack on the main wagon bridge over the Marne at Château-Thierry, American machine gunners described a night attack on 1 June 1918 of massed German troops, who were singing gutturally as they made a suicidal charge, some linked arm in arm. It was later discussed between American and French soldiers that the victims were the French 10th colonial division from Senegal, who had been trying to get back across the river. There are no German records of any attack on the wagon bridge.[8]
  • The French estimated that more than 75,000 French soldiers were casualties of friendly artillery in the four years of World War I.[9]

Spanish Civil War

  • In 1937 the Nationalist Irish Brigade was fired upon by a Falangist unit, and the hour-long firefight resulted in 17 deaths. Neither unit had any battle experience.

World War II


  • 6 September - Just days after the start of World War II, in what was dubbed the Battle of Barking Creek, an RAF Spitfire squadron shot down two Hurricane aircraft from another RAF squadron. One of the Hurricane pilots was killed.
  • 10 September - British submarine HMS Triton sank another British submarine, HMS Oxley, mistaking it for a German U-boat and having received no responses to challenges. Oxley was the first Royal Navy vessel to be sunk and also the first vessel to be sunk by a British vessel in the war, killing 52 with only two survivors.
  • 16 October - Mureaux 115 damaged by a Morane 406 over Saar Valley.[10]
  • 22 November - Bloch MB.131 shot down by a Morane 406 over Aisne[10]
  • 21 December - Potez 637 shot down by 2 Hurricanes over Meuse[10]


  • 19 February - Operation Wikinger: German destroyer Leberecht Maass sunk by Luftwaffe bombs, another sunk by mines during confusion[11]
  • 14 April - Dutch submarine O10 bombed in error off Noordwijk by two V.156-F[10] (other reports attribute attack to British aircraft[12])
  • 10 May - bomber claimed shot down by 3 pilots over Dendermonde was probably a Bristol Blenheim (L9246 of 57 Squadron RAF)[10]
  • 12 May - Fairey Fox of (Belgian Air Force) shot down by French aircraft near Huy[10]
  • 13 May - two Potez 631 damaged by Hurricanes near Bétheniville, Marne[10]
  • 14 May - four Fairey Battles of 142 Sqn RAF shot down in Sedan area[10]
  • 15 May - Bloch MB.152 possibly shot down by friendly fire (in fight, another pilot of the same unit fired on an aircraft that he was unable to identify and saw him crash, no German loss in the area)[10]
  • 17 May - three Blenheims of 82 Sqn RAF shot down off Ostend[10]
  • 18 May - LeO 451 shot down by French anti-aircraft fire near Meaux[10]
  • 18 May - Potez 631 hit by He 111, Bf 110, French anti-aircraft fire and Morane 406 near Creil, survived and returned to base[10]
  • 18 May - two Potez 631 shot down by a Blenheim of 248 Sqn RAF off Nieuwpoort, Belgium[10]
  • 18 May - Blenheim of 235 Sqn RAF shot down off Ostende (shot down by Spitfire/Hurricanes according to RAF)[10]
  • 19 May - LN.411 shot down by French AA at Évreux[10]
  • 20 May - Potez 631 damaged by D.520[10]
  • 21 May - D.520 shot down by return fire of Potez 631 over Oise[10]
  • 23 May - Potez 631 shot down by Bloch 152 [10]
  • 23 May - French ships opened fire against a formation of V.156-F off Boulogne[10]
  • 24 May - two Martin 167F shot down by Allied anti-aircraft fire (probably British) near [10]
  • 24 May - Hurricane landing at Rouen attacked by a "French Curtiss" (?)[10]
  • 25 May - 2 pilots wounded by French anti-aircraft fire[10]
  • 26 May - two Martin 167F shot down in Amiens area[10]
  • 28 May - two Blackburn Skuas of 806 Sqn FAA reported attacks by Curtiss off Dunkerque. No trace in French claims.[10]
  • 1 June - Bloch 152 damaged by Hurricanes off Dunkerque[10]
  • 2 June - Potez 631 hit by French AA over Lassigny.[10]
  • 2 June - two Potez 631 hit by French AA over Villers-Cotterêts.[10]
  • 3 June - confused battle between 501 Sqn RAF, and French squadrons in the morning. Only two Hurricanes shot down, one possibly by a French pilot.[10]
  • 3 June - Potez 631 attacked by French AA, 7 Bf 109s and 1 Bloch 152 during German raid on Paris. Pilot reported the Bf 109s were the less dangerous.[10]
  • 3 June - two Potez 631 fired on by French AA (of their own airfield) during German raid on Paris.[10]
  • 4 June - L-N.411 shot down by a Polish pilot of Romorantin defence patrol.[10]
  • 10 June - Laté 298 hit by AA of French ships off Honfleur and sank after landing.[10]
  • 12 June - Bloch 152 shot down "in error", no more details, between Chaumont and Troyes.[10]
  • 22 June - CAMS 55.10 of 4S1 shot down by Morane GC III/5 near Cape Zerbib, Tunisia.[10]
  • 28 June - Italian Air Marshal Italo Balbo shot down by Italian anti-aircraft fire at Tobruk.




  • General Omar Bradley recalled that his column was attacked by American A-36s in Sicily. The tanks lit yellow smoke flares to identify themselves to their own aircraft, but the attacks continued, so the tanks were forced to fire and downed an aircraft. The parachuting pilot was brought before Bradley. 'You stupid sonofabitch!' Bradley fumed. 'Didn't you see our yellow recognition signals?' The pilot replied 'Oh, is that what that was?'[16]
  • Sinking of the submarine Surcouf was initially attributed to a collision with the U.S. freighter Thompson Lykes, but a later report stated that the Surcouf was mistaken for a U-boat and destroyed by U.S. planes. Historians differ on which account is true.
  • Sinking of the submarine USS Dorado by U.S. planes. This sinking is also disputed.[citation needed]
  • Likely sinking of the submarine USS Seawolf by destroyer escort USS Richard M. Rowell[citation needed]
  • During Operation Husky (Allied Invasion of Sicily), 144 C-47 transport planes passed over Allied lines shortly after a German air raid, and were mistakenly fired upon by ground and naval forces. 33 planes were shot down and 37 damaged, resulting in 318 casualties.[17]
  • Near damage of the battleship USS Iowa (with President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard) by the destroyer USS William D. Porter. This incident led to the "Willie D." being greeted thereafter with the hail, "Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans!"


  • Allied heavy bombers bombed the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and 1st Polish Armoured Division during Operation Totalize, causing several hundred Allied casualties.
  • British flotilla attacked by RAF Hawker Typhoons, off Cap d'Antifer, Le Havre. HMS Britomart and HMS Hussar sunk. HMS Salamander damaged beyond repair and scrapped. HMS Jason escaped major damage.
  • During Operation Cobra, bombs from the Eighth Air Force landed on American troops on two separate occasions, killing 241 and injuring 620. Lieutenant General Lesley McNair was among the dead — the highest-ranking victim of American friendly fire.
  • July 25, 1944, Allies order the bombing west of Saint-Lô, (a mistake by Leigh Mallory) and the RAF inflicted heavy casualties on the 13 US infantry [18]
  • Two battalions of the 77th Infantry on Guam exchanged prolonged fire on 8 August 1944, possibly started from firing of mortars to calibrate them. Small arms and then armour fire was exchanged. The mistake was realized when both units tried to call in the same artillery battalion to bombard the other.[6]
  • On 19 September 1944 the former HMS Sunfish was sunk by a British RAF Coastal Command aircraft in the Norwegian Sea. The boat was being transferred to the Soviet Navy. He Captain, Israel Fisanovich had taken her out of her assigned area and she was diving when the aircraft came in sight instead of staying on the surface and firing recognition signals as instructed. All crew, including the British liaison staff, were lost.[19]
  • In October 1944, Soviet troops liberated the city of Niš from occupying German forces and advanced on Belgrade. At the same time the U.S. Air Force was bombing German-Albanian units entering from Kosovo. The U.S. planes mistook the advancing Soviet tanks as enemies (probably due to lack of communication) and began attacking them, whereupon the Soviets then called in for air support from Nis airport and a five-minute dogfight ensued, ending after both the U.S and Soviet commanders ordered the planes to retreat.[citation needed]
  • Major George E. Preddy, commander of the 328th Fighter Squadron was the highest-scoring US ace still in combat in the European Theater when he died on Christmas Day in Belgium at the time. Preddy chased a German fighter over an American anti-aircraft battery and was hit by their fire aimed at his intended target.


  • Operation Bodenplatte (Baseplate): 900 German fighters and fighter-bombers launched a surprise attack on Allied airfields, approximately 300 aircraft were lost, 237 pilots killed, missing, or captured, and 18 pilots wounded - the largest single-day loss for the Luftwaffe, many losses were due to friendly anti-aircraft guns.[citation needed]
  • Operation Wintergewitter (Winter Storm) - Italian Front:[20] American forward observer John R. Fox called down fire on his own position to stop a German advance on the town of Sommocolonia, Italy. In 1997 he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for this action.[21]
  • Cap Arcona incident - Although it did not involve troops in combat, this incident has been referred to as "the worst friendly-fire incident in history"[22] On May 3, 1945, the three ships Cap Arcona, Thielbek, and the SS Deutschland in Lübeck Harbour were sunk in four separate, but synchronized attacks with bombs, rockets, and cannons by the Royal Air Force, resulting in the death of over 7,000 Jewish concentration camp survivors and Russian prisoners of war, along with POWs from several other allies.[22][23] The British pilots were unaware that these ships carried POW's and concentration camp survivors,[24] although British documents were released in the 1970s that state the Swedish government had informed the RAF command of the risk prior to the attack.[25][26]

Korean War

On September 23, 1950, Hill 282 was attacked by 1st Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, part of the British 27th Brigade in the United Nations force. Having captured it and facing strong North Korean counter-attacks, the Argylls, devoid of artillery support, called in an allied air-strike. A group of F-51 Mustangs of U.S. Air Force's 18th Fighter Bomber Wing circled the hill. The Argylls had laid down yellow air-recognition panels correctly in accordance with that day's planning, but the North Koreans imitated similar panels on their own positions in white. The Mustangs, confused by the panels, mistakenly napalm-bombed and strafed the Argylls’ hill-top positions. Despite a desperate counter-attack by the Argylls to regain the hill, during which Major Kenny Muir was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the Argylls, much reduced in numbers, were forced to relinquish the position. Over 60 of the Argylls’ casualties were caused by the friendly air-strike.

Six Day War

  • USS Liberty incident - A neutral American communications ship, in a highly controversial incident, is attacked by Israeli air and naval forces after allegedly being mistaken for an Egyptian vessel.
  • The day before the Liberty incident, Israeli aircraft bombed a friendly armored column in the Sinai after it being mistaken for an enemy column.

Vietnam War

8,000 such incidents have been estimated for the Vietnam War;[27][28][29] one was the inspiration for the book and film Friendly Fire.

  • A U.S. F4 Phantom aircraft dropped a 500 lb. bomb on the command post of the 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade while they were in heavy contact with a numerically superior NVA force on 19 November 1967, at 1858 hours. At least 45 paratroopers were killed and another 45 wounded. Also killed was the Battalion Chaplain Major Charles Watters who was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • USCGC Point Welcome was attacked by USAF aircraft, with two deaths resulting.
  • USS Boston, USS Edson, USCGC Point Dume, HMAS Hobart and two U.S. Swift Boats, PCF-12 and PCF-19 are attacked by US aircraft on June 17, 1968.[30] Several sailors were killed and PCF-19 was sunk.[31]
  • On May 11, 1969, during the Battle of Hamburger Hill, Lt. Col. Weldon Honeycutt directed helicopter gunships, from an Aerial Rocket Artillery (ARA) battery, to support an infantry assault. In the heavy jungle, the helicopters mistook the command post of the 3/187th battalion for a Vietnamese unit and attacked, killing two and wounding thirty-five, including Honeycutt. This incident disrupted battalion command and control and forced 3/187th to withdraw into night defensive positions.
  • Sergeant Michael Eugene Mullen killed by American artillery on 18 February 1970.

Turkish Invasion of Cyprus 1974

  • The Turkish destroyer D-354 Kocatepe is sunk by Turkish warplanes after being mistaken for an enemy ship.
  • A flight of Greek Nortalas aircraft transports carrying reinforcements from Greece is mistaken for a flight of Turkish aircraft by the defenders of Nicosia International Airport, who open fire. Heavy Greek casualties are sustained.

Falklands War 1982

First Gulf War

War in Afghanistan

  • In the Tarnak Farm incident of April 18, 2002, four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight others injured when U.S. Air National Guard Major Harry Schmidt, dropped a laser-guided 227 kilogram (500 lb) bomb from his F-16 jet fighter on the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry conducting a night firing exercise near Kandahar. Schmidt was charged with negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, and dereliction of duty. He was found guilty of the latter charge, was fined nearly $5,700 in pay and was reprimanded. During testimony Schmidt blamed the incident on his use of "go pills" (authorized mild stimulants), combined with the 'fog of war'.[34] The Canadian dead received US medals for "bravery", but no apology.
  • On 5 December 2006, an F/A-18C on a Close Air Support mission in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, mistakenly attacked a trench where British Royal Marines were dug-in during a 10-hour battle with Taliban fighters, killing one Royal Marine.[35]
  • Pat Tillman, former famous American football player is shot by American fire in April 2004. The subsequent cover-up and untruths told regarding his death provoke a bigger outrage than the actual incident. The Army Special Operations Command investigation conducted by Brigadier General Jones, the U.S. Department of Defense concluded that Pat Tillman's death was due to friendly fire aggravated by the intensity of the firefight. A more thorough investigation concluded that no hostile forces were involved in the firefight and that two allied groups fired on each other in confusion after a nearby explosive device was detonated.
  • Operation Medusa (2006): 1 - Two U.S. A-10 Thunderbolts accidentally strafed NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, killing Canadian Private Mark Anthony Graham.
  • Canadian Pte Robert Costall and Vermont National Guard Sgt. John Thomas (2006) accidentally shot (from behind) and killed by a U.S. machine gunner near Kandahar, in Afghanistan.
  • A USAF F-15 called in to support British ground forces in Afghanistan drops a bomb on those forces, killing 3 privates of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, and severely injuring two others.[36]
  • A statement issued jointly by the American and the Afghan military commands said a contingent of Afghan police officers fired on United States forces on 10 December 2008 after the Americans had successfully overrun the hide-out, killing the suspected Taliban commander and detaining another man. The US forces after securing the hideout came under heavy small arms fire and explosive grenades from the Afghan Police forces. "Multiple attempts to deter the engagement were unsuccessful," and the US forces returned fire. Afghan police have stated that they came under fire first and that the initial firing on the US forces came from the building next to the police station. This has lead the US forces to conclude that the Afghan police forces might have been compromised. Initial reports indicate this was a tragic case of mistaken identity on both parts. Date required[1][37]
  • Two Danish soldiers from The Royal Life Guards, Thorbjorn were killed by British Javelin anti-tank missiles during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.[38] It is also confirmed from Danish forces that the British fired a total of 6-8 heat-seeking Javelin missiles, over a 1 1/2 hour period and only after the attack was completed did they realize that the missiles were British, based upon the fragments found after the incident.[39]
  • Of two helicopters called in to support operations by the British Grenadier Guards and Afghan National Army forces in Helmand, the British Westland WAH-64 Apache engaged enemy forces, while the accompanying American AH-64D Apache opened fire on the Grenadiers and Afghan troops.[40]
  • First British on British friendly fire in Afghanistan, nine British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment were injured, after being fired upon by British Army Apache Helicopter while on patrol in Afghanistan July 9, 2008 [2]
  • LCpl Ford, from Zulu Company of 45 Commando Royal Marines, died after receiving a gunshot wound in Afghanistan on January 15, 2007, which was later found to be due to friendly fire. The final inquest has ruled he died from NATO rounds from a fellow Royal Marine machine gun. The report added there was no "negligence" by the gunman, who had made a "momentary error of judgment".[3] [4]

2003 invasion of Iraq

Friendly Fire Iraq.ogg
Video of a friendly fire incident, showing errors of identification
  • In the Battle of Nasiriyah, two U.S. Air Force A-10 jets mistook an American force of AAV's and infantry for an Iraqi armored column, and bombed and strafed it. Six U.S. Marines were killed.
  • American aircraft attacked a friendly Kurdish & U.S. Special Forces convoy, killing 15. BBC translator Kamaran Abdurazaq Muhamed was killed and BBC reporter Tom Giles and World Affairs Editor John Simpson were injured. The incident was filmed.[41]
  • American Patriot missile shot down a F/A-18C Block 46 Hornet 164974 of VFA-195 50 mi (80 km) from Karbala, Iraq, killing the pilot Lieutenant Nathan Dennis White (U.S. Navy). This was the result of the missile design flaw in identifying hostile aircraft.[42]
  • American Patriot missile shot down a British Panavia Tornado GR.4A ZG710 "D" of No. 13 Squadron RAF killing the pilot and navigator.
  • 190th Fighter Squadron/Blues and Royals friendly fire incident - March 28, 2003. A pair of American A-10s from the 190th attacked four British armoured reconnaissance vehicles of the Blues and Royals, killing one and injuring five.
  • An American airstrike kills eight Kurdish Iraqi soldiers. Kurdish officials advised US helicopters hit the men who were guarding a branch of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Mosul. The US military said the attack was launched after soldiers identified armed men in a bunker near a building reportedly used for bomb-making, and that American troops called for the men to put down their weapons in Arabic and Kurdish before launching the strike.[43]
  • American soldier Mario Lozano is suspected of killing Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari and wounding Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena in Baghdad. Sgrena had been kidnapped and subsequently rescued by Calipari; however, it is claimed that the car they were escaping in failed to stop at an American checkpoint, and U.S. soldiers opened fire.
  • Bulgarian Junior Sergeant Gardi Gardev was shot southeast of Diwaniya in southern Iraq. Gardev's patrol had fired warning shots to stop an Iraqi civilian car when it received heavy fire from the direction of a U.S. Army communications facility 150 meters (165 yards) away.
  • A British Royal Marine was killed when his river patrol boat was hit by missiles after being wrongly identified as an enemy vessel approaching a Royal Engineers checkpoint on the Al-Faw Peninsula, Iraq.[44]
  • British Challenger 2 tank came under fire from another British tank in a nighttime firefight, blowing off the turret and killing two of the crew.[45]

Gaza War

  • An Israeli tank fires on a building occupied by Israeli troops after mistaking them for enemy fighters. Three soldiers are killed and another twenty wounded.[citation needed]
  • A misdirected Israeli artillery shell hits an Israeli position, killing paratroop brigade officer Yonatan Netanel.[citation needed]

Other incidents

  • 1948 - 1948 Arab-Israeli War: Col. Mickey Marcus, returning on foot to base, was shot dead by a young Israeli soldier, due to confusion and miscommunication.
  • 1956 - Suez Crisis: Attacks from British Royal Navy carrier-borne aircraft caused heavy casualties to 45 Commando and HQ.
  • 1987 - Two Exocet antiship missiles fired from an Iraqi Mirage F1 fighter during the Iran–Iraq War hit the USS Stark. 37 sailors were killed and 21 were injured.
  • 1999 - Maj.Predrag Milutinović flying in his MiG-29 was shot down by Yugoslav Army Air Defense SAM (SA-6 probably) while it was trying to land at Niš airport during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia 1999.

See also


  1. ^ a b Regan, G. Backfire: a history of friendly fire from ancient warfare to the present day. Robson Books, 2002.
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Economist Closing in on Baghdad March 25, 2003
  4. ^ U.S. military probes soldier's death.
  5. ^ a b no author given (no date given). "What is Friendly Fire?".  ]
  6. ^ a b c d e,M1
  7. ^ a b c U.S. Striving to Prevent 'Friendly Fire' - New York Times
  8. ^'world+war+I'&source=web&ots=_7Ejhh1Ugv&sig=V3pe3gjtPEoe689VukcBJN_aDwk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result
  9. ^ This figure comes from a 1921 book by an artillery expert, General Percin, called Le massacre de notre infanterie, 1914–1918. The book claims 75,000 French soldiers were casualties of their own artillery. Percin supports his claim with hundreds of battlefield correspondence from all parts of the Western Front.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah "Friendly Air to Air Kills. Blue on Blue incidents". World War II Forums. May 9, 2008. Retrieved 9 Mar 2009.  This is a discussion forum. The entry, however, cites "Martin's book about Armée de l'Air losses (Ils etaient la); Gillet's books on French victoires (tome 1, 10–15 May; tome 2, 16 May – 4 June); AéroJournal no.3 (about Potez 631) and no.18 (about Aéronavale)"
  11. ^ Operation Wikinger
  12. ^ "O 10". Dutch submarines. 1997–2006. Retrieved 10 Mar 2009. 
  13. ^ Kennedy, Ludovic (1975). Pursuit, the Sinking of the Bismarck. London: Book Club Associates. pp. 153–154. 
  14. ^ Channel 4 - History - Douglas Bader
  15. ^ Daniel Ford, Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and his American Volunteers, 1941–1942 (HarperCollins, 2006), pp.203-4
  16. ^ Hallion, Richard. Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack, 1911–1945, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989
  17. ^ "Airborne Reinforcement". US Army in World War II. Retrieved 10 Mar 2009. 
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  30. ^ Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot HMAS Hobart Vietnam 1968
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  36. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | 'Friendly fire' kills UK soldiers
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  • Shrader, Charles R. Amicicide: the problem of friendly fire in modern war, University Press of the Pacific, 2005. ISBN 1-4102-1991-7
  • Regan, G. More Military Blunders. Carlton Books, 2004.

External links

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