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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Raiders of the night sky
Snippets from this article by Mark Bowden that appeared in the February 2003 edition of Reader's Digest and my thoughts.

  • Pilot Slokes to Wizzo Snitch (Weapons Systems Officer) when Snitch couldn't locate the target in Kabul after 3 passes over the target area: "Come on dude, we need to get these bombs off".
    To be sent home carrying undelivered bombs was the worst - it made the flight longer, and it was a bummer to face the crew that had worked like dogs to load the bombs.

    My thoughts:
    Offload the bombs at what cost? Not judging the pilot or the wizzo here, but do these "pressures" push the team to hit the "target" or what appears to be the target at any cost? - The casualties of war - the collateral damage; lives that pay the cost of avoiding bummers back home - the price of ego - the price of war; a war that leaves behind blood and gore, shattered lives, shattered dreams. What a shameful waste.

  • Snitch knew from the first two passes that the buildings would become more visible the closer they got. The GBU (laser-guided bomb unit) was equipped with a laser sensor in its tip and small steering mechanisms in its fins to redirect the bomb's flight. So Snitch could release the bombs before the buildings were completely visible and then guide them in as the picture came into focus.

    Slokes pushed the button to release the bomb. Snitch then placed the cursor on his screen at the precise spot he wanted it to hit - this is called "painting the target" - and fired his laser. The wizzo guided the bomb directly into the second building.

    My thoughts:
    Advances in healthcare technology and such risks taken on the operating table would make me so very proud and would be a clear indication of the progress of the human race. Such misguided focus is so very pitiful and painful.

  • To be fair to the crew, I must include the next couple lines:
    Both crews, first elated, grew sober. They had spent years practicing, so bombing was routine, even sport. Now they were dropping real 500-pound bombs on real people. No matter how accurate the crews were, they could only hope they were hitting appropriate targets; they were only as good as their AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) intel.

    My thoughts:
    But do these post-killing thoughts hold any water to the families of the dead? Another notch on the crew's score, another promotion or maybe a medal. On the ground, another orphaned family, orphaned dreams, orphaned hope. Some reap the harvest; some weep at the grave. The price of war!

  • Slokes subscribes to a prayer he read in a book about World War II pilots, which goes, "God, please dont let me screw up - but if I do, please dont let me screw up and live."

    My thoughts:
    Is this a coward's way out? Die rather than face the retribution? Not that of a court-martial or a demotion or a grounding; but that of his/her conscience - the person in the mirror.


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