Friendly-fire death highlights communication problems on Iraq frontline, expert says
Published Tuesday, March 10, 2015 11:09AM EDT
After the friendly-fire death of a Canadian soldier, one expert is calling communication failures in Iraq a case of “too many cooks” on the crowded, poorly-defined frontlines.
Western forces, the Iraqi army, Shiite militias, Iranian co-ordinators and others are all fighting against the Islamic State, said Bessma Momani, a senior fellow at the Centre of International Governance Innovation.
“There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen with different conflicting interests,” Momani told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday. “When you have that many people coordinating such an important, strategic fight, there are bound to be some problems.”
One such miscommunication proved deadly last week when a Canadian special forces soldier was killed in a friendly fire incident.
Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron was killed after Iraqi Kurdish forces, called the Peshmerga, fired on Canadian troops in what is being called a case of mistaken identity.
Momani also called the Peshmerga response of laying the blame solely on Canadian troops a “rush to judgment.”
“They didn’t allow a proper investigation,” she said. “I think it was a diplomatic faux pas on their part to jump in and claim that the Canadian soldier was in the wrong place.”
Momani called the Peshmerga a well-trained and important fighting force, but said she expects to see them backtracking in the near future to avoid losing the support of the Canadian forces and other members of the Western coalition.
Overall, Momani said, the incident points to the difficulty in co-ordinating so many different parties.
“That must be the lesson learned from all of this,” she said. “And I think that is definitely going to be a topic of consideration and discussion moving forward.”