First Drone Friendly Fire Deaths
United States officials say that Navy Seaman Benjamin Rast and Staff Sergeant Jeremy Smith lost their lives due to friendly fire when a drone aircraft accidentally unloaded on the troops in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand. Reports reveal that Rast and Smith were among a unit ordered to reinforce Marines coming under heavy fire in Sangin from insurgents and that their death came as a result of friendly fire.
Drones are typically used in the area for hunting out Taliban members; the aircrafts use infrared imaging to identify insurgents on the ground and most likely mistook the US troops as enemy forces. Earlier this year drones mistakenly killed almost two dozen civilians overseas in one strike, but last week's incident marks the first time that US troops have been the victim of their own military's drones.
A February drone strike in the Afghanistan province of Oruzgan killed as many as 23 civilians—including two children—when US operators of a robotic plane mistakenly identified the citizens as members of the Taliban.
A drone mission in March, which was believed to target Pakistani members of the Taliban, killed more than 38 suspected militants near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border when an aircraft struck a compound in Datta Khel, North Waziristan.
US officials announced on Tuesday that they are investigating last week’s incident.