Springfield State Journal Register

April 23, 2002

Canada probes bombing by Springfield-based jet 
Also represented in U.S. inquiry 


WASHINGTON - The Canadian military will conduct its own investigation of the accidental bombing by an Illinois Air
National Guard F-16 that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday.

Canada also will have full access to the U.S. probe of last week's friendly fire incident involving a fighter from the
Springfield-based 183rd Fighter Wing, Rumsfeld said.

"Whatever it is that is done will be transparent to the Canadians," he said.

That means Canadian investigators will be able to question the F-16 pilot, who is thought to be from the 183rd, Rumsfeld said.
The pilot has not been identified.

Rumsfeld would not comment on reports that the pilot had been told not to drop his bombs after he reported that he thought he
was being fired on from the ground. The firing was the Canadians conducting a nighttime live-fire training exercise. 

"It seems to me that it's best to let the investigation run its course," he said during his weekly Pentagon news conference.

The secretary also would not say what rules of engagement the pilot would have been operating under during the mission. But,
he said, "We all know that on the land, sea and the air, U.S. forces have the right of self-defense."

One of the key issues likely to be studied by the two investigations is whether the pilot had been briefed before the fatal mission
that the Canadians would be firing their weapons in what apparently was a designated training area.

Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, formally ordered an investigation Monday,
directing it to complete its work in 30 to 60 days, the command announced.

A Central Command spokesman said the officer in charge of the probe has been selected but no name has been announced. It
is expected to be an Air Force general officer with pilot experience.

The Canadian military, however, announced the members of its independent investigation. It will be led by retired Gen. Maurice
Baril, a former chief of the Defense Staff, which is similar to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Other members of the Canadian probe are Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais, Col. Mark Hodgson, Col. Gregory Matte and Chief
Warrant Officer Denis Levesque.

The Canadians said Dumais also would serve as a member of the U.S. board of investigation.

The Canadian Defense Ministry said its board's first steps would be to establish the cause of the four deaths and eight injuries
from the bombing. They also would investigate the planning and conduct of the live-fire exercise, the safety procedures in place
and the coordination between Canadian and U.S. officials concerning the training exercise.

Baril is expected to deliver a preliminary report on his board's probe by mid-May and to submit a final report to Prime Minister
Jean Chretien and Defense Minister Art Eggleton by the third week in June.

The U.S. board's report to Franks will include a finding of facts and opinions on the cause of the deaths and injuries,
assessment of any fault or neglect contributing to those casualties and recommendations "concerning corrective measures and
disciplinary actions, as appropriate," Central Command said.

Franks then will decide if punitive action should be taken against anyone involved in the accident. If he recommends disciplinary
action against the pilot, that process will be conducted by a senior Air Force officer with authority over the 183rd Fighter Wing.

The death of Canadian soldiers has stirred considerable debate in America's northern neighbor about the war as well as anger
about perceived American indifference.

Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opened their news conference by
expressing their regret and sadness over the casualties and extending their sympathies to the soldier's families and comrades.

"We all know that every conflict has its share of injuries to friendly forces, and they are truly painful when they occur," Rumsfeld

The secretary said he did not know whether any U.S. officials would attend any of the funerals for the Canadian soldiers.

Copley News Service correspondent Dori Meinert contributed to this report.