Thursday, September 02, 2010


I know a little a bit about small unit warfare.  As long as you have conventional soldiering and counterinsurgency going on at the same time, friendly fire accidents are going to happen.  It's beyond tragic but it is also predictable.

Pat Tillman's story is different in kind.  There have now been two books written about him and one movie is in the can.  Still, no satisfactory answer exists for these two central questions:  Who actually killed Tillman--that is, what human being, and:  How high into DOD or the Executive Branch did the cover-up orders and the cover-up of the the cover-up go?

Beyond that, what was the motive for the initial killing.  By all accounts, Tillman was not the blindly patriotic zealot the NFL and the White House made him out to be.  He was a smart, challenging guy.  Exactly the kind of guy who makes enemies of guys who have spent their lives with their values systems unchallenged.  It is a national tragedy and a family tragedy for the Tillmans that these questions are not and may never be answered.

If there's a straight-up IG investigation of this going, I haven't heard of it.


At 8:39 AM, September 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there suspicion that the friendly fire was intentional? I served in Cu Chi VN for a year in 69-70 and know that friendly fire incidents sometimes go with the territory. Most frequently from "short rounds" from the artillery or simply someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It never crossed my mind that Tillman's death may have been murder. I'd heard stories in VN of "fragging" incidents where fed up grunts would attack an officer who didn't have the best judgement in combat. War is hell ... but sometimes necessary.

At 8:49 AM, September 02, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...

I start out conceding FF incidents go with small unit warfare. Because the facts of this one were covered up and propagandized so badly, it's hard to know the truth.

Small unit on the other side of a Bluff fired at PT. Somebody deployed anti-ambush smoke grenade. Tillman, recognizing the fire was from US weapons yelled "I'm Pat Fucking Tillman" and then there was more fire, which decapitated him. This much is not in dispute. Utterly unclear why shooting took place after Tillman spoke up. There was also some strange behavior after the death but the unit firing the shots could have been acting on directive from higher authority. Even the deadest head in the world had to see the "Folk Hero" possibilities. Gotta be a good reason the family would not consent to burying him in Arlington.

Every fact you learn here asks ten more questions.

TYFCB and thank you for your service. You served at a bad place during a vicious time.

At 3:09 PM, September 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I recall, a VN vet (that I worked for and lived with for a year) said grunts had been known to get rid of CO's that were incompetent, but were officers because of some college. Lives were on the line.

My friend was an officer, but he'd go out and measure the incoming mortar angles to figure where to return fire, so he was fine with his men.

I've heard of the problems with political types at the pentagon running things for their own ambition, but that it could reach into the field like this is an even more troubling thought.

Unfortunately it does seem much of our political class feel the "little people" are expendable.


At 7:39 PM, September 02, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Tillman was a college grad but he was an enlisted man.

You're starting to get the idea why I'd like to see this investigated better and the findings about who squashed the first investigation made public.


At 6:05 AM, September 03, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of whether the friendly fire was maybe not so friendly, the manipulation of Tillman's service and death by the administration goes right along with some of the weird propaganda we were fed the past decade. Tillman, Jessica Lynch, WMDs in Iraq, color coded terror alerts whenever the Pres was getting some heat...I'd like to think at least some of them were honest mistakes or coincidence, but it makes you wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes.

At 7:23 AM, September 03, 2010, Blogger UMRBlog said...

I really can't say it any better than that. I'd like to KNOW. I always thought Lynch got highjacked by the media more than the Cheney-ites. Tillman's different, darker.

The WMD thing had complicit people at the highest level. Tenant and Powell with the vial at the U.N. disgusted me at the time and they must live with that deception. Blotches on otherwise honorable careers.



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