Magazine article Newsweek

At War: The Military's Fight against Friendly Fire

Magazine article Newsweek

At War: The Military's Fight against Friendly Fire

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Ephron

The pentagon plans to complete by late November its fourth investigation into the friendly-fire killing of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, says the congressman from Tillman's district. Launched in March under pressure from the family, the probe will determine if members of Tillman's Army Rangers unit should be tried for criminal negligence and whether there was a cover-up. The inquiry was to have been completed last month, but Army investigators had trouble tracking down soldiers, most of whom are no longer in uniform, says Congressman Michael Honda, who represents Cali-fornia's San Jose area. He was briefed on the investigation recently by top Defense Department officials. Honda says more than 50 people had been questioned and many of them had hired lawyers. "It's been frustrating for them," he says of Tillman's parents. "They want to get to the bottom line." Tillman was killed by fellow Rangers during a 2004 fire fight with Afghan guerrillas. Army officers initially told his family that he was shot by guerrillas and died a hero. An autopsy weeks later revealed the truth about the means of his death. But three investigations failed to answer key questions: why, for example, Rangers burned his uniform and body armor. Honda says the cover-up investigation is being conducted separately, but the Pentagon will announce the results of both probes simultaneously.

Some top Army officers worry that the findings will overshadow the military's broader success in reducing friendly fire. …

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