Friday, September 18, 2009

More On Kunduz: Colonel May Have Lied to Get Strike (UPDATED)

According to an article in the German FT, the colonel who ordered the air strike in Kunduz may have lied about the danger facing his troops in order to get the planes to strike. Now I need someone to translate this article for me so I'm relying on this usually reliable French blog, Zone Militaire.

A quick translation of what I'm reading there--at Zone Militaire (and like I said, as soon as I've talked to German friends, I'll update) :
The article, using sources close to the investigation, say colonel Georg Kelin gave false information to justify the airstrike. He was already suspected of not complying with ISAF rules to avoid these types of incidents but Colonel Klein may have assured that his troops where "in contact with the enemy" when this was not the case. The Washington Post indeed reported that the officer requested the air strike based on the information of an informant on the ground.

If and it's a big IF that turns out to be true, then well, the rest is pretty obvious.

UPDATE: I finally got some help on the German FT article. Here goes (and here I'm going with paraphrasing instead of direct translation). The article says that the Colonel claimed her had troops in contact--which he needed to justify an air strike request to the command center in Kabul. When asked what kind of contact, he said he had visual contact even though he had no soldiers anywhere near the tanker trucks. Just before the air strike, he again stated that there was immediate danger to his troops.

Now, obviously this is about rules for getting close air support. In this case, the Colonel would have to follow ISAF rules, which are very restrictive. As far I'm told, for ISAF, having troops in contact is required to get close air support but it's not supposed to be a technicality. You have to have troops being or about to be fired on. They have to be immediately threatened. All this to say, if the Colonel did lie and did break the rules, the German prosecutor in Potsdam is going to be looking into this VERY closely.


  1. French translation? Where's Lil when you need her?

  2. Starbuck--the rest of the Zone Militaire post isn't all that interesting, just says German authorities are waiting for results before making any statements and reminds readers that the German defense minister had defended the strike saying that when two trucks are taken 6km from your base, then it's a big threat...

  3. This whole mess reminds me of something... I don't remember the name or the book of a French writer and combattant of the turn of the century (19th to the 20th) who was bemoaning the cowardice inherent in modern warfare--whereby cowards would just kill from a distance instead of the ancient thrill of warfare that saw "men" clash with others in mano-a-mano engangements...