Fact or fiction? An update

Last night we noted the New Republic’s “Shock troops” article by the pseudonymous “Scott Thomas” portraying the disgraceful behavior of American troops in Baghdad. Michael Goldbarb has called for help from readers who can shed light on the veracity of the New Republic article. Goldfarb has already updated his post to include messages that tend to undermine the New Republic article. One is from Stuart Koehl, who addresses the story of the crazed Bradley driver running over a dog:

From the description of the dog-killing incident, the Bradley driver slowed the vehicle down and tried to do a skid turn. When you turn a tracked vehicle like a Bradley, you do it through differential braking–you slow down the inside track and accelerate the outside track, so the vehicle skids through the turn. Anyone who has ever seen it done will tell you it would be just about impossible (a) to catch a dog like that (dogs have better reflexes than tracked vehicles).
But even assuming that this guy was the world’s greatest track driver, I still think the story as presented is pure BS. According to the story, the dog is on the right side of the vehicle, because the driver turns right to run it down.
I am looking now at a 1/32nd scale model of a Bradley, and I can say with some assurance that the driver’s hatch is on the left side of the vehicle. Immediately to the driver’s right is the engine compartment, the cooling grill of which rises above the level of the driver’s hatch, making it impossible to see anything on the right side of the vehicle. Even if the driver was head-out, he still couldn’t see anything to his right below the level of the top deck (all armored vehicles have significant blind spots close in, which is why they need dismounts to protect them from RPG guys in foxholes). So, if, as the blog says, the driver “twitched” the Bradley to the right, he must have used extrasensory perception in order to catch the dog. Because there’s no way he knew the dog was even there.
In my opinion, the whole thing is a shaggy dog story.

At Blackfive an officer on the scene of the story in the article about a soldier embarrassing a horribly injured colleague at FOB Falcon writes:

In the 11 months I’ve been here I’ve never once seen a female contractor with a burned face. In a compact place like this with only one mess hall I or one of my guys would certainly have noticed someone like that. There are a few female contractors, I think maybe a dozen, but none fit the horrific description given in that article. Further, I’ve personally seen guys threatened with severe physical harm for making jokes of any kind about IED victims given the number of casualties all the units on this FOB have sustained. It is not a subject we take lightly. Gallows humor jokes do get told, but extremely seldom and never about anyone they actually know or are in the presence of.

Thomas Smith at The Tank quotes John Noonan at Op-For on the most outrageous of the stories retailed in the New Republic article:

The skull-hat tale raised some mental red flags on my end, simply because of Thomas’s timeline. The thought of a soldier (a) so grossly and openly violating the UCMJ and (b) wearing human remains for the better part of the day without an NCO or an officer spotting him is absolutely unbelievable.

If you have any information that may bear on the veracity of the New Republic article, please write Michael Goldfarb at [email protected] or us at [email protected]
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