On the 5th of April, 2010, WikiLeaks released a classified US military video which showed the indiscriminate murder of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad—including two Reuters journalists. This video served as a wake-up call to Americans who remained willfully ignorant of the horrors of war. Now, another video has surfaced showing that US troops are still assuring that there will be a steady production of “terrorists” for years to come.
This week, a video was leaked to Politico allegedly showing a US troop firing a shotgun into the cab of a civilian truck. There appears to be no combat situation taking place and the fired shot is seemingly unprovoked and nothing short of attempted murder.
U.S. commanders have since launched an investigation into the video as it appears that the person firing the round most likely violated the military’s rules of engagement. It also serves to set back the little—if any—progress the US has made inside Afghanistan.
As Politico reports, the shooting briefly appears during a gritty montage of combat footage allegedly recorded by U.S. troops battling the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate. An anonymous user recently uploaded the video to YouTube under the title “Happy Few Ordnance Symphony,” then quickly removed it.
“The amateur video posted on a public website gives us serious concern,” the U.S. Central Command told POLITICO in a statement. “The video in question is not official, not authorized and does not represent the professionalism of the service members of U.S. Central Command.
“We are conducting an investigation into this video, and will take appropriate actions as a result of this investigation,” it added.
According to the report,
The 3-minute, 9-second video doesn’t say where it was recorded, but the YouTube caption suggested it was shot in 2017. In the past year, U.S. troops have been engaged in intense combat with the Islamic State in Nangarhar Province, the group’s main Afghan stronghold, where teams of special operations advisers are fighting alongside elite Afghan troops to wrest key districts from the militants.
The troops in the video wear uniforms typical of U.S. special operations forces like the Green Berets, SEALs, Rangers and Marine Raiders, and are seen firing machine guns, grenade launchers, rockets, miniguns, mortars and calling in air or artillery strikes. The video, which is also set to music, is typical of the unauthorized combat montages that some troops create to share among themselves, often using footage shot from helmet-mounted video cameras.
But in addition to the rare glimpse of such shadowy operations up close, the brief scene of the truck shooting, 20 seconds in, sets it apart.
The clip in question shows a military vehicle approaching a truck with a white cab and black cargo cabin, of the type Afghans often call “Jingle trucks.” Military sources identified the first vehicle to POLITICO as a version of the M-ATV armored vehicle specially outfitted for special operations forces.
Based on the footage, it was not clear if the driver was hit with the round. Also, although the video appears to show the recoil of the shotgun, no casing can be seen exiting the weapon. But the window is clearly broken out as the vehicles pass each other.
“With the shotgun engagement, you figure it is a lethal round, as you are in combat, but from the video you cannot conclusively determine,” one former special operator with experience in Nangarhar said. “It could readily have been a beanbag, hammer, or other non-lethal round, as when it hits glass you are going to get a similar effect.”
“It may have been an operator not doing the right thing and firing a non-lethal round just to be a dick,” a veteran told Politico.
Even if this troop was “being a dick,” there appears to be no reason for the shooting and the US Central Command is expressing their outrage.
“I have reviewed the video and I am disappointed and also concerned that the American people, our Coalition partners, the Afghan government, and the Afghan people will believe that American service members are callous and indifferent to the horrors of war or the suffering of innocent people trapped in conflict,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command added in a statement Wednesday. “I can assure you that this video does not represent the professionalism or humanity of the men and women of U.S. Central Command. We reject the unprofessional and callous message this video conveys.”