Reporting from Washington—
A Marine and a Navy medic killed in the first known case of U.S friendly fire casualties from a drone strike were targeted when Marine commanders in Afghanistan mistook them for Taliban fighters, even though analysts watching the Predator's live video feed were uncertain if the men were part of an enemy force.
Those are the findings of a Pentagon investigation into the April 6 deaths of Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Smith, 26, and Navy Hospitalman Benjamin D. Rast, 23. The 381-page report concludes that the Marine officers and the Air Force crew controlling the unmanned aircraft from half a world away were unaware that analysts watching the firefight unfold via live video at a third location had doubts about the targets' identity.
The miscommunications among ground commanders, the Predator pilot and crew at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, and Air Force analysts studying the video and data feed at an Air National Guard base in Indiana, highlight problems in the Pentagon's growing reliance on armed drone aircraft, which U.S. forces now use in combat zones around the world.
But....wait....this is not supposed to happen....right?