Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks Over Northern Iraq

Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks Over Northern Iraq

by Scott A. Snook

In response to this disaster the complete array of military and civilian investigative and judicial procedures ran their course.

With almost twenty years in uniform and a Ph.D. in organizational behavior, Lieutenant Colonel Snook writes from a unique perspective.

A victim of friendly fire himself, he develops individual, group, organizational, and cross-level accounts of the accident and applies a rigorous analysis based on behavioral science theory to account for critical links in the causal chain of events.

Based on a grounded theory analysis, Snook offers a dynamic, cross-level mechanism he calls "practical drift"--the slow, steady uncoupling of practice from written procedure--to complete his explanation.

This accident happened because, or perhaps in spite of everyone behaving just the way we would expect them to behave, just the way theory would predict.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.14
  • Pages: 280
  • Publish Date: January 27th 2002 by Princeton University Press
  • Isbn10: 0691095183
  • Isbn13: 9780691095189

Read the Book "Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks Over Northern Iraq" Online

On the second count, Snooks in-depth and cross-level evaluation of the events, non-events, and individual, group, and organizational psychology of what happened was far better than I expected. Snook reveals how the actions at the individual level of the two F-15 pilots who fired the deadly missiles, the AWACS crew members who did nothing that could have stopped them, and the OPC leadership who was unaware of the brewing problems were practical and sensible to each at that moment. But then Snook goes on to reveal how analyzing just the actions of these individuals or groups in isolation is not sufficient to understand how the shootdown occurred. It is also necessary to look at the interactions between the individuals, groups, and organizational levels, not just in those few tragic moments, but over the full three years of the life of OPC to that point, to gain a full understanding of what went wrong and why. While Pipers account of the struggles of the victims families to understand what had happened and why is deeply personal and emotional, Snooks account is more chilling because of the inevitability of something happening during the course of the operation. Perhaps Snooks most disturbing conclusion, however, is that in complex organizations, when something goes badly wrong, its not possible to place blame in one location or on one individual because so many people and parts share in it: blame cant be placed anywhere because it lies everywhere. As I read the book, I wondered if Mrs. Piper or any of the other family members had read it, and if it in any way would provide, if not solace, at least an explanation they could accept. Second, Snook asserts that all of the AWACS crewmembers had the opportunity to intervene to stop the shootdown, even though two of the teams on the jetthe technicians and flight crewhad neither the situational awareness, the responsibility, the training, nor the equipment to do so. Finally, I felt Snook went easy on the Army personnel at Eagle Flight, the operation flying the Blackhawk helicopters. I can only hope that in the nearly 25 years since this tragic event, the Army, Air Force, and other military services, and other organizations, have learned the right lessons from this study: that practical drift from established procedures is inevitable, and that few operators and leaders will be aware of the drift under normal circumstances.

The draft was sent to me by Mr Snook because Allen Hall whose son Michael Hall was also a pilot on the same Black Hawk as Erik. Several areas in the GAO investigation proved the Boards evidence in the shoot down to be erroneous, compared to Snook's draft.

3) The author omits without discussion the one reason that's been advanced for the differing ATOs, namely that that Army form was never updated to provide a space for a second Mode I code, so the clerk who received the daily Air Force version simply ignored that number.

How do the best trained pilots, operating under the control of the best airborne warning and control system, shoot down two US Army helicopters? Or on an airplane (truly operating in such a situation).

He also creates a very interesting theory that has direct application in the understanding of human error in the industrial setting. Practical Drift definitely applies to EHS processes.

The 4 compartmental model makes great sense.