Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It's Not A Crash--It's A Gravitational Exchange

A Blackhawk was shot down yesterday, and all aboard were said to be safely evacuated by a second helicopter. The Army was in denial mode again, initially describing the crash as a "hard landing." Initially, the Reuters version of the story released here said all passengers were unharmed, and omitted a police captain's report that he witnessed a ball of fire explode from the chopper after it was hit with "some sort of projectile." Alternet then added the police captain's quotes back into the story. Note the careful wording in the Yahoo! version, which avoids mention of injuries or location of the crash, censored down to "north of Baghdad."

This is the eighth helicopter shot down since January 20th. CENTCOM generals have repeatedly said this past month they were altering tactics and upgrading countermeasures to avoid continued losses. For the record, the Soviets lost 330 helicopters in ten years of fighting in Afghanistan, with the rate increasing markedly after the introduction of CIA-supplied Stinger missiles in 1985/6. To put this in perspective, the US helicopter loss rate month-to-month is much higher than what the Soviets suffered in their worst years in Afghanistan. Obviously this could be an anomaly, but all the US helicopters shot down in the last thirty days were in a small Sunni zone of Iraq, "north of Baghdad." Afghanistan was five times the area of Vietnam.

Update: ThinkProgress has the CNN video of the story above, with Spokes-General Caldwell claiming the helicopter was hit with an RPG. That's possible and it has happened, but it would be like hitting an eagle with a water balloon launcher.

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