Targeting-error fratricide in modern airpower : a causal examination
Caddell, Joseph William.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. What causes a combat pilot to misidentify and attack friendly forces on the modern battlefield? This study addresses this phenomenon of targeting error by analyzing the six most documented cases of air-to-ground and air-to-air fratricide (also known as "friendly fire" and "blue-on-blue") in Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Each incident - as detailed in official government and military documentation - is weighed against three distinct groups of causal theories identified by the existing scholarly literature on friendly fire: technological, human, and organizational. This examination is made to determine which of these, if any, best explain targeting-error fratricide in modern airpower, and whether there are individual factors common to most or all of the six cases.; This study concludes that, while each group of theories offers a valid perspective, one particular factor with technological, human, and organizational characteristics is common to each of the incidents. Specifically, dysfunctional interaction between pilots and airborne or ground-based controllers was either a critical or abetting causal factor in each case, and is deserving of increased attention and mitigation efforts by the U.S. military. This study concludes with policy recommendations addressing this dynamic as a critical factor in targeting-error fratricide.
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