The whole report didn’t seem to want to fit in one entry, so here’s Part Two:
IV. THE INCIDENT AT BP 541
This section examines the shooting incident at BP 541 on the night of 4 March 2005. The section begins with a description of the site and then a brief look at the individuals involved. The mission assigned to the 1-69 IN Soldiers is detailed. The incident itself is then described. The events immediately following the shooting are addressed next. Following this is a look at the forensic evidence. The section concludes with findings and recommendations.
B. Site Description
BP 541 was located on the on-ramp from southbound Route Vernon onto westbound Route Irish approximately six miles west of the International Zone in Baghdad. Specifically, BP 541 (Grid 38S MB3571 8371) was located at the intersection of Route Vernon and Route Irish, which is the second intersection on Route Irish east of Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). The road leading to the on-ramp begins where the westernmost lane of Route Vernon separates from the highway. The on-ramp itself begins near a side street that borders the edge of a housing area on the west side of the road. This point is approximately 640 meters south of the nearby underpass on Route Vernon, and approximately 380 meters from where the road to the on-ramp splits from Route Vernon. (Annexes 141K, 144K).
At the interchange of the on-ramp and Route Vernon, the highway becomes an overpass extending over Route Irish. Three separate concrete Jersey barriers are located in the on-ramp to Route Irish. The barriers are arranged with the first two barriers on the right hand side of the on-ramp and the third one on the left hand side of the on-ramp, but not in a serpentine configuration, as one approaches from the north. The first barrier is approximately 75 meters from the concrete abutment of the Route Vernon overpass near the beginning of the on-ramp. The second barrier is approximately 37 meters beyond the first barrier (112 meters from the concrete abutment). The third barrier is approximately 31 meters beyond the second barrier (143 meters from the abutment). This third, or southernmost, barrier is approximately 80 meters from where the on-ramp merges with westbound Route Irish. The total length of the on-ramp is approximately 223 meters. (Annexes 142K, 144K).
From the vantage point of the southernmost barrier, Route Irish is directly south of the position with a 50-meter median separating the eastbound and westbound lanes. To the north and northwest of the position, there is a large open area that is littered with garbage and debris. The field extends from the bottom of the on-ramp to the side street and west. Immediately beyond the side street, approximately 150 meters from the southernmost barrier, is a large housing community with windows and porches that overlook the on-ramp. There is a clear line of sight from the houses to the on-ramp. The Route Vernon overpass stands several stories higher than the on-ramp and runs parallel to the on-ramp until the on-ramp curves to the southwest, approximately 50 meters from the beginning of the on-ramp. The overpass is supported by large cylinder concrete supports. The ground under the overpass is also littered with garbage and debris. (Annexes 16K, 143K).
The road itself is concrete. There is a slight elevation gain between the beginning of the on-ramp and its merger with Route Irish. The curve is banked slightly. The on-ramp, but for the Jersey barriers, is wide enough to accommodate two vehicles abreast of each other, i.e., it is two-lanes wide. (Annexes 16K, 19K).
C. Personnel Involved
1. Captain Michael Drew, New York Army National Guard, a New York City Police Department Sergeant was the Commander, A Company, 1-69 IN, in charge of patrolling Route Irish and establishing blocking positions at four checkpoints on the night of 4 March 2005. (Annex 1J).
2. First Lieutenant Robert Daniels, New York Army National Guard, was the Executive Officer for A Company, 1-69 IN on 4 March 2005 and was initially present at BP 541. (Annex 2J).
3. Second Lieutenant Nicolas Acosta, Louisiana National Guard, was the platoon leader in charge of BP 541 on 4 March 2005. (Annex 6J).
4. Sergeant Sean O’Hara, Louisiana National Guard, was in the overwatch vehicle at BP 541 on 4 March 2005. (Annex 8J).
5. Sergeant Luis Domangue, Louisiana National Guard, was the secondary gunner in the overwatch vehicle at BP 541 on 4 March 2005. (Annex 5J).
6. Specialist Kenneth Mejia, Louisiana National Guard, was the driver of the overwatch vehicle at BP 541 on 4 March 2005, and a trained combat life saver. (Annex 4J).
7. Staff Sergeant Michael Brown, New York Army National Guard, a New York City Police Department officer was the acting Platoon Sergeant at BP 541 and the Truck Commander of the blocking vehicle on 4 March 2005. (Annex 7J).
8. Specialist Mario Lozano, New York Army National Guard, was the gunner on the blocking vehicle at BP 541 on 4 March 2005. He had been an M240B and M249 gunner in previous assignments. (Annex 10J).
9. Specialist Brian Peck, New York Army National Guard, was the driver of the blocking vehicle at BP 541 on 4 March 2005. (Annex 9J).
10. Sergeant First Class Edwin Feliciano, New York Army National Guard, was with the Company Commander’s vehicle on 4 March 2005. (Annex 3J).
11. Mr. Nicola Calipari was an Italian military intelligence officer with the rank of Major General who was in charge of the recovery of Ms. Sgrena on 4 March 2005. (Annex 104C).
12. Mr. Andrea Carpani is an Italian military intelligence officer with the rank of Major in the Carabinieri with years of experience working and driving in Baghdad. He was driving the car involved in the incident on 4 March 2005. (Annex 104C).
13. Ms. Giuliana Sgrena is an Italian journalist for Il Manifesto. She had been kidnapped and held hostage in Baghdad for one month at the time of her release on the night of 4 March 2005. (Annex 103C).
D. The Mission
1. Receipt of the Mission
The mission of A Company, 1-69 IN on 4 March 2005 was their standard mission, i.e., to provide security along Route Irish. The mission entailed looking for IEDs and VBIEDs and ensuring Coalition convoys could safely transit between the International Zone and BIAP. A Company, 1-69 IN had been performing this mission since 15 February 2005. Their normal patrol shift was 1500 to 2300 daily. (Annex 137C).
While on patrol, Captain Drew received two VBIED BOLO reports via radio, one for a black car, another for a white car. (Annexes 74C, 13E, 14E). He passed that information via radio to his subordinate leaders, including Second Lieutenant Acosta, who passed it on to his troops. (Annexes 74C, 77C).
At 1843 hours, the 1-69 IN Battle Captain received a call from the 1-76 FA Battle Captain asking how quickly they could establish blocking positions along Route Irish. (Annexes 60C, 61C, 3L).
Adverse weather had mandated that the VIP travel by ground rather than by helicopter, and the Embassy requested that access to Route Irish be blocked for the movement. (Annexes 60C, 61C, 3L).
At approximately 1900 hours, A Company, 1-69 IN received a mission from its Battalion TOC. A Company was directed to establish blocking positions on the four westbound on-ramps along Route Irish to support the movement of a VIP from the
International Zone as they would for a Rhino Bus Run mission. (Annexes 58C, 133C, 137C).
At 1916 hours the 1-76 FA Battle Captain called the 1-69 IN Battle Captain to order all elements to report to their blocking positions for the VIP transit. (Annex 3L).
Captain Drew considered the current enemy situation, and decided to place an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle at both Checkpoint 542 and Checkpoint 543, and two HMMWVs each at Checkpoint 540 and Checkpoint 541. He assigned Checkpoint 541 to a team led by Second Lieutenant Acosta. (Annex 137C).
At approximately 1930 hours, Second Lieutenant Acosta arrived at Checkpoint 541 with three HMMWVs. He found First Lieutenant Daniels in position at the on-ramp. Second Lieutenant Acosta relieved First Lieutenant Daniels. A short time later, Captain Drew pulled up in his HMMWV, took one of Second Lieutenant Acosta’s HMMWVs for placement at Checkpoint 540, and then left with First Lieutenant Daniels accompanying him. (Annex 133C).
At 1938 hours, the 1-69 IN Battle Captain reported to the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain that all blocking positions had been established. The 1-76 FA Battle Captain reported to the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain that the VIP would depart in approximately five to ten minutes. (Annex 2L).
At 1945 hours, the VIP security convoy NCOIC reported to the 1-76 FA Battle Captain that the convoy with the VIP departed the International Zone with a destination of Camp Victory. The 2/10 MTN Battle Captain requested the VIP’s convoy departure time and composition from the 3ID JOC Battle Captain, as they were not in direct contact with 1-76 FA. Meanwhile, the 1-76 FA Battle Captain directed 1-69 IN Battle Captain to initiate the Route Irish closure plan. (Annexes 59C, 64C, 2L).
2. Establishing the Blocking Position
The instructions given to Second Lieutenant Acosta by Captain Drew were to set up a blocking position to facilitate the movement of a VIP down Route Irish. (Annex 77C). Captain Drew also issued guidance on the importance of force protection. (Annex 74C). He expected to maintain the blocking position no more than 15 minutes. (Annexes 74C, 77C).
Second Lieutenant Acosta emplaced his two vehicles to establish the blocking position. He positioned the blocking vehicle commanded by Staff Sergeant Brown on the road, near the outer curb, positioned in conjunction with the second barrier of three Jersey barriers already on-site on the on-ramp. Second Lieutenant Acosta placed the overwatch vehicle by the third Jersey barrier, closest to Route Irish. (Annexes 142K, 143K). In their final positions, both vehicles were facing toward Route Irish. (Annex 77C).
Second Lieutenant Acosta, using the factors of METT-TC, positioned the vehicles to provide standoff from the overpass (a common hand grenade throwing location), a clear line of sight to on-coming traffic, overwatch field of view (to watch for threats from nearby buildings), and to allow adequate room for on-coming vehicles to stop and turn around. (Annexes 77C, 83C).
Staff Sergeant Brown’s vehicle was positioned to block traffic from using the on-ramp to enter Route Irish. The other vehicle was positioned to provide overwatch of the area as well as to block traffic entering the on-ramp the wrong way from Route Irish. (Annexes 77C, 83C).
After consulting with Staff Sergeant Brown, Second Lieutenant Acosta established the Alert Line at the concrete abutment of the Route Vernon overpass. The Warning Line was established as the second light pole on the overpass up the on-ramp from the Alert Line. (Annexes 77C, 83C, 16K).
Second Lieutenant Acosta and Staff Sergeant Brown informed the gunners of the Alert Line and Warning Line locations, and reviewed when to shine the spotlight, and when to fire warning shots. (Annexes 77C, 83C).
3. The duties of the Soldiers
Specialist Peck was the driver of the blocking vehicle and was to remain in the driver’s seat, facing west down Route Irish. (Annexes 85C, 130C).
Specialist Lozano was the gunner in the blocking vehicle. He was to remain in the turret, facing north up the on-ramp toward on-coming traffic. From there, he was to operate a three million candlepower hand-held spotlight that he was to shine on approaching vehicles as soon as possible, even before the Alert Line (he was able to see at least 20 meters beyond the Alert Line). (Annexes 77C, 79C, 83C, 134C).
Staff Sergeant Brown, the Truck Commander of the blocking vehicle and acting Platoon Sergeant, was to be dismounted so he could execute local security around his vehicle. (Annexes 83C, 131C).
Specialist Mejia was the driver of the overwatch vehicle and was to remain in the driver’s seat, facing west down Route Irish. (Annexes 89C, 128C).
Sergeant Domangue was to be in the turret of the overwatch vehicle where he would operate a green laser pointer. He was to shine the laser pointer on a vehicle as soon as he saw it, but no later than at the Alert Line, focusing it on the driver’s side of the windshield. He was also to keep watch on the area between Route Irish and the on-ramp. (Annexes 87C, 129C).
Sergeant O’Hara was to be dismounted from the overwatch vehicle so as to provide local security for his vehicle. (Annexes 81C, 132C).
Second Lieutenant Acosta was to be dismounted so he could supervise the operation of the BP. (Annexes 77C, 133C).
4. Communications Regarding the Mission Duration
Captain Drew, Second Lieutenant Acosta, and Staff Sergeant Brown were all concerned about the length of time that the Soldiers had been manning their blocking positions. (Annexes 74C, 77C, 83C). Captain Drew was concerned that leaving his Soldiers in a static position for more than 15 minutes left them open to attack. He was also concerned that he was not adequately performing his patrolling mission because his Soldiers were tied down to the blocking positions. (Annex 74C).
Captain Drew checked with the 1-69 IN TOC at least two times seeking to collapse the blocking positions and return his Soldiers to their patrolling mission. The 1-69 IN TOC, after checking with 2/10 MTN TOC, informed him that the convoy had not passed and to stay in position. (Annexes 74C, 2L).
At 2010 hours, the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain requested permission from the 3ID TOC to remove blocking positions until 15 minutes before VIP movement. (Annex 2L).
At 2014 hours, the 3ID TOC Battle Captain informed the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain that A Company, 1-69 IN could reduce their blocking positions until 2018 hours. (Annex 2L).
At 2015 hours, the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain reported to the 3ID TOC Battle Captain that A Company, 1-69 IN blocking positions would remain in place. (Annex 2L).
At 2020 hours, the 2/10 MTN Battle Captain notified 1-69 IN to keep blocking positions in place. (Annex 2L).
At 2030 hours, Captain Drew asked again about collapsing the blocking positions. He was told that the word from 3ID was not to move off the blocking positions, that the convoy would be coming down Route Irish in approximately 20 minutes, and that the convoy would consist of four HMMWVs and an up-armored Suburban. (Annexes 97C, 3L).
1-76 FA was able to communicate the requirement for blocking positions along Route Irish for a VIP movement from the International Zone to BIAP. (Annexes 58C, 59C, 62C, 63C). The security escort platoon with the VIP was able to, and did, relay departure and arrival times to the 1-76 FA Battle Captain. (Annexes 59C, 64C).
The VIP convoy departed the International Zone in four HMMWVs (and no Suburban) at approximately 1945 hours. It arrived at the Camp Victory gate at 2010 hours (Annex 59C). The convoy reached its destination on Camp Victory at 2020 hours (Annex 59C). The VIP returned to the International Zone by helicopter at approximately 2205 hours. The determination to fly by helicopter back to the International Zone was not made until shortly before the VIP departed as a result of clearing weather conditions. (Annexes 59C, 64C).
The 1-76 TOC had two means of communicating with 4th Brigade, its higher headquarters: Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)2 and FM. The 1-76 FA Battle Captain was using only VOIP to communicate with 1-69 IN, but experienced problems with VOIP, therefore losing its only communication link with 1-69 IN, other than going through 4th Brigade. (Annex 97C). As a result, the Battle Captain was unable to pass updated information about the blocking mission either directly to 1-69 IN, or to 4th Brigade. He did not attempt to contact 4th Brigade via FM communications. (Annex 63C). Fourth Brigade, in turn, could not pass updated information to its major command, 3ID. (Annex 57C). Likewise, 3ID had no new information to pass to its subordinate command, 2/10 MTN. Finally, 2/10 MTN was thus unable to pass updated information to its subordinate command, 1-69 IN. (Annexes 51C, 52C).
There is no evidence to indicate that 1-76 FA passed on the information about the VIP departure and arrival times to any unit. (Annexes 59C, 63C). As a result, A Company, 1-69 IN’s Soldiers were directed to remain in their blocking positions.
Other than the duty logs, there are no other written records of communications or tape recordings among involved units relating to the coordination to block Route Irish on the evening of 4 March 2005. (Annex 6M).
E. The Incident
After arriving at BIAP from Italy in the late afternoon of 4 March 2005, and taking care of some administrative matters, Mr. Carpani and Mr. Calipari went to some undisclosed location in the Mansour District of Baghdad. (Annexes 104C, 105C). At approximately 2030 hours they recovered Ms. Sgrena and headed back toward BIAP. (Annexes 103C, 104C, 109C). Both agents made a number of phone calls to various officials during the drive. (Annex 104C). Mr. Carpani was mostly talking to his colleague, Mr. Castilletti, who was waiting for them outside of BIAP near Checkpoint 539. He updated Mr. Castilletti on his location and discussed arrangements at the airport. (Annex 105C). Mr. Carpani, who was driving, had to slow down at one point due to a flooded underpass on Route Vernon. (Annexes 103C, 104C). Mr. Carpani, who had experience driving in Baghdad, did not have an alternate route to the airport planned.
2 VOIP is a technology that allows telephone calls to be made using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular (analog) phone line. (Annexes 104C, 105C). He was taking what he considered to be the most logical route to BIAP, but was not checking his speedometer. (Annex 105C). Neither he, nor Mr. Calipari, knew the on-ramp to Route Irish was blocked. (Annex 104C). Indeed, Mr. Carpani believed the road to the airport was open. (Annex 105C).
At approximately 2045 hours the Soldiers at BP 541 were in the positions that they had been occupying since 1930 hours. They had successfully turned around 15-30 vehicles, with none getting more than a few meters beyond the Alert Line. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 132C). Specialist Lozano was in his turret, his M240B (on which he had last qualified just five days before (Annex 6G)) pointed down and to his left at a grassy area with Specialist Peck in the driver’s seat in the blocking vehicle. Specialist Mejia was in the driver’s seat of the overwatch vehicle with Sergeant Domangue in the turret. Sergeant O’Hara was sitting in the rear passenger’s seat of the overwatch vehicle, cleaning his protective glasses. Staff Sergeant Brown, the acting Platoon Sergeant, was seeking to determine how much longer they were to remain in position. As such, he was standing with Second Lieutenant Acosta near the overwatch vehicle, their backs to the on-ramp. (Annexes 79C, 83C, 128C, 129C, 130C, 131C, 132C, 133C, 134C). None of the Soldiers knew that the Italians were coming. (Annexes 116C, 117C, 118C, 119C, 120C, 121C, 122C).
As the car approached the on-ramp to Route Irish, Mr. Carpani was on the cell phone updating Mr. Castilletti on their position and reporting that everything was going fine. (Annexes 104C, 105C). Though not in the habit of checking his speedometer, Mr. Carpani estimated his speed at 70-80 kph as he exited off of Route Vernon, heading toward the on-ramp to Route Irish. (Annex 105C). The courtesy light in the car was on and had been since picking up Ms. Sgrena in the Mansour District of Baghdad. (Annex 104C). Additionally, Mr. Carpani had his side window halfway open to listen for possible threats. (Annex 105C). Ms. Sgrena and Mr. Calipari were in the rear of the car talking to each other. (Annexes 103C, 105C). The atmosphere in the car was a mix of excitement over the recovery of Ms. Sgrena, and tension from the tasks yet to be completed. (Annex 140C).
At approximately 2050 hours, Specialist Lozano saw a car approaching the on-ramp, approximately 140 meters from his position. (Annexes 79C, 134C, 144K). Specialist Lozano, holding the spotlight in his left hand, shined his spotlight onto the car before it arrived at the Alert Line. (Annexes 79C, 85C). At this time, Sergeant Domangue acquired the vehicle’s headlights and saw the spotlight shining on it. He then focused his green laser pointer onto the windshield of the car as it reached the Alert Line. (Annexes 87C, 129C). Both Specialist Lozano and Sergeant Domangue perceived the car to be traveling in excess of 50 mph (and faster than any other vehicles that evening). (Annexes 79C, 87C, 129C, 134C).
The car crossed the Alert Line still heading towards the Soldiers’ position without slowing down. Specialist Lozano continued to shine the spotlight, and shouted at the vehicle to stop, a fruitless effort, but an instantaneous reaction based on his training.
(Annexes 85C, 130C). Without slowing down, the car continued toward the Warning Line with the spotlight and laser still on it. (Annexes 79C, 87C, 129C).
The car continued to approach at a high rate of speed, coming closer to the Soldiers than any other vehicle that evening. (Annexes 79C, 87C, 129C). When the car got to the Warning Line, Specialist Lozano, while still holding the spotlight in his left hand, used his right hand to quickly fire a two to four round burst into a grassy area to the on-coming vehicle’s right (the pre-set aiming point) as a warning shot. (Annexes 79C, 87C, 125C, 129C, 134C).
The vehicle maintained its speed as it went beyond the Warning Line. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 129C, 131C, 132C, 133C). Staff Sergeant Brown, a New York City Police Officer trained in vehicle speed estimation, estimated the car was traveling at 50 mph and believed that it would not be able to stay on the road around the curve at that speed. (Annex 83C). Specialist Lozano dropped the spotlight and immediately traversed his weapon from his left to his right, without having to move the turret, to orient on the front of the car. With both hands on the weapon, he fired another burst, walking the rounds from the ground on the passenger’s side of the vehicle and towards the car’s engine block in an attempt to disable it. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 129C, 131C, 132C, 133C). The rounds hit the right and front sides of the vehicle, deflated the left front tire, and blew out the side windows. (Annexes 104C, 105C, 132C, 1I).
Mr. Carpani reacted by saying into the phone, “they are attacking us,” not knowing who was shooting at him. (Annexes 103C, 104C, 105C). He stepped on the brakes, curled up on the left side of the car, and dropped the phone. (Annexes 104C, 105C). Specialist Lozano stopped firing as he saw the car slow down and roll to a stop. Approximately four seconds had elapsed between the firing of the first round and the last round, and no more than seven seconds from the time the car crossed the Alert Line until it came to a stop. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 129C, 131C, 132C, 133C, 134C). The car came to a stop near the middle of the on-ramp, such that the first Jersey barrier was aligned with the vehicle between the front and back doors. (Annexes 79C, 83C, 105C).
F. Post-Incident Events
Once the car came to a stop, Mr. Carpani got out of the car with his hands raised, cell phone in one hand, and told the Soldiers that he was from the Italian Embassy. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 85C, 104C, 130C, 131C, 132C, 133C, 134C). Second Lieutenant Acosta, Staff Sergeant Brown, Sergeant O’Hara, and Specialist Peck approached the car with weapons raised and secured the driver. (Annexes 130C, 131C, 132C, 133C). Staff Sergeant Brown patted him down and asked him if there were others in the car. Mr. Carpani said there were two others and that there was one weapon on the front seat and another on the male passenger in the back seat. He warned Staff Sergeant Brown that both weapons had a round in the chamber. Staff Sergeant Brown then moved
Mr. Carpani about 10 meters away from the car and off to the side of the road to question him and examine him. After initially taking control of the cell phones as well as Mr. Carpani’s and Mr. Calipari’s identification and badges, Staff Sergeant Brown returned those items to Mr. Carpani. At some point, Staff Sergeant Brown directed the car be placed in park since the car continued to roll. (Annexes 83C, 105C).
Sergeant O’Hara and Second Lieutenant Acosta searched the vehicle. (Annexes 77C, 81C). Second Lieutenant Acosta ordered Sergeant Domangue to inform Captain Drew and to send Specialist Mejia over with his medical kit. Specialist Mejia arrived at the car and found Mr. Calipari gravely injured. Specialist Mejia was able to bandage Mr. Calipari’s wound, but Mr. Calipari died a few minutes later. Specialist Peck also tried to assist with Mr. Calipari. He then returned to the blocking vehicle and relieved Specialist Lozano in the turret to allow him to collect himself. (Annex 85C, 130C). Specialist Mejia then turned his attention to Ms. Sgrena’s wounds. (Annex 89C, 128C). He tried to administer an IV, but his needles were too large. Meanwhile, Sergeant O’Hara bandaged Ms. Sgrena’s shoulder wound. (Annexes 128C, 132C).
Captain Drew then arrived on the scene along with Specialist Silberstein, who was a qualified medic. (Annexes 127C, 128C, 133C, 134C). Specialist Silberstein assessed Ms. Sgrena and treated her for shock. He then confirmed that Mr. Calipari was dead. (Annex 127C). Captain Drew assessed the situation, passed all available information to his command, and ordered the casualties to be evacuated to the Combat Support Hospital (CSH) in the International Zone for treatment of their wounds. He also requested an ambulance for Mr. Calipari’s body. (Annexes 74C, 133C, 137C). Ms. Sgrena was loaded into the blocking vehicle and proceeded to the CSH with the overwatch vehicle following as U.S. military vehicles do not travel alone. (Annexes 127C, 128C, 129C, 130C, 132C, 133C). Mr. Carpani was transported later by a separate vehicle from another element of Captain Drew’s patrol. (Annex 136C). All equipment in the vehicle before the shooting was later returned to Mr. Carpani. (Annex 4M).
Before Mr. Carpani was transported to the CSH, he made at least seven phone calls on his cell phone. He tried asking how his companions were but was unable to get an answer. (Annexes 104C, 105C). Sergeant First Class Feliciano arrived with Captain Drew and found that Mr. Carpani spoke Spanish, as did Sergeant First Class Feliciano. He was able to tell Mr. Carpani about the condition of his companions. (Annex 91C)
Mr. Carpani told Sergeant First Class Feliciano who Ms. Sgrena was and that he was trying to get to the airport. He told Sergeant First Class Feliciano that he heard shots from somewhere, and that he panicked and started speeding, trying to get to the airport as quickly as possible. Mr. Carpani further told Sergeant First Class Feliciano that he continued to speed down the ramp, and that he was in a hurry to get to the airport. (Annexes 91C, 136C).
Mr. Carpani became a little dizzy, so Sergeant First Class Feliciano got some water for him. Mr. Carpani kept making phone calls. He contacted Mr. Castilletti who put Captain Green on the phone. Mr. Carpani then had Captain Drew talk to Captain Green. Mr. Carpani kept on insisting that he wanted to go to the airport. After one of the phone calls, though, he said he needed to go to the hospital where Ms. Sgrena had been taken. (Annex 91C).
The incident was reported through command channels, and the Commanding General, 3ID ordered an immediate commander’s inquiry/preliminary investigation into the incident. Before the investigator had arrived on the scene, the HMMWVs involved in the incident had departed to the CSH and the car had been moved in an effort to clean up the site so that the on-ramp could be re-opened. The Commander, 2/10 MTN arrived about two hours after the incident and ordered the car be put back in its stopped position to support the commander’s inquiry as much as possible. (Annex 65C).
G. Forensic Evidence
1. 5 March 2005 Report
Photographs of the incident scene were taken in the hours after the incident by Combat Camera personnel, as advised by CID personnel. (Annexes 32K — 69K). The exact locations of the three incident vehicles could not be determined since the two HMMWVs had been moved upon transporting Ms. Sgrena to the Combat Support Hospital, and the car had been moved during cleanup efforts at the site. (Annex 5I).
2. 11 March 2005 Report
The forensic investigation of the incident scene conducted on the morning of 11 March 2005 provided the following distances between relevant points based on GPS measurements3 :
1 + Blocking vehicle to Alert Line — 389 feet, 7 inches (118.8 meters)
2 + Blocking vehicle to Warning Line — 272 feet (82.9 meters)
3 + Blocking vehicle to disabled vehicle stop point — 125 feet (38.1 meters)
4 + Disabled vehicle stop point to Warning Line — 147 feet (44.8 meters)
5 The position of the Toyota was determined from photographs taken before it was moved during cleanup efforts. The blocking vehicle location comes from GPS readings provided by the Preliminary Investigating Officer based on witness statements regarding its position at the time of the incident.
6 + Disabled vehicle stop point to Alert Line — 264 feet, 7 inches (80.7 meters)
7 + Alert Line to Warning Line — 117 feet, 7 inches (35.9 meters) (Annexes 5I, 143K).
3. 14 March 2005 Report
A forensic examination of the car was performed after its removal from the scene. This analysis disclosed 11 entrance bullet holes. They are consistent with 7.62 mm bullets. Three bullets perforated the front section of the car at the bumper, right head light, and right fender. Two bullets perforated the windshield. Six bullets perforated the right side, right door, right front and rear passenger windows. No bullet holes or ricochet damage was noted on the car’s undercarriage. (Annex 1I).
The trajectory analysis demonstrated that all 11 bullets came from one point of origin. The actual distance from the car to the machine gun could not be conclusively determined because of several variables: the grade of the curve and curvature of the roadway; depressions or elevations of the terrain; the lateral movement of the car; human reaction time, modulation of speed and braking by the driver; a flat tire; and lateral and vertical movement of the machine gun. The security situation at the incident site prevented examiners from visiting the scene. (Annex 1I).
4. BP 541 Traffic Samples
On Friday, 25 March 2005, a certified radar operator conducted two traffic samples at BP 541. From 1809 hours to 1824 hours, 27 vehicles were clocked. The average speed at the Alert Line was 44 mph. The average speed at the beginning of the on-ramp’s curve was 24 mph. From 1956 hours to 2015 hours, 30 vehicles were clocked. The average speed at the Alert Line was 46 mph. The average speed at the beginning of the curve was 26 mph. Unlike the night of the incident, which was also a Friday, the road was dry during these samples. (Annex 1M).
5. Number of Rounds
The ammunition box in the blocking vehicle originally contained 200 rounds. There were 142 rounds remaining in the M240B ammunition box. No casings were collected. Eleven rounds hit the vehicle. The weapon had been fired on seven previous occasions using the same ammunition box. As such, there were no more than 40 additional rounds that could have been fired. (Annexes 85C, 99C).
Second Lieutenant Acosta was under a time constraint to establish the BP quickly and expected to be in position for a very limited time, i.e., no more than 15-20 minutes. Further, the position was on a tight curve that caused Second Lieutenant Acosta to make less than optimal choices in positioning his vehicles. Still, Second Lieutenant Acosta properly considered and employed the factors of METT-TC in deciding where to emplace his two vehicles so as to provide vehicle stand-off, force protection, overwatch field of view, and clear line of sight for the spotlight operator. From 15-30 vehicles were turned around without incident based upon how the position was established. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 1F, 2F, 3F).
At the time of the incident, there were only two HMMWVs, and seven U.S. military personnel, at BP 541. Both the blocking vehicle and the overwatch vehicle were positioned on the on-ramp, facing Route Irish. There were no other vehicles, or Soldiers in the immediate vicinity of BP 541, and the BP could not be seen by any other BPs on Route Irish. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 85C, 87C, 89C, 117C, 118C, 119C, 120C, 121C, 122C, 123C, 124C).
The Soldiers had a heightened sense of awareness because of the two VBIED BOLOs, one for a black car, another for a white car. (Annexes 74C, 77C, 13E, 14E). Given the number of vehicles that had been stopped and turned around, and this awareness of VBIEDs, it is highly unlikely that Specialist Lozano was not paying attention. Further, Specialist Lozano had recently rotated into the position, replacing Specialist Peck, to ensure that there was a fresh set of eyes in the turret. (Annexes 79C, 85C). Rotating qualified personnel in and out of the turret to maintain alertness was a wise decision by the BP 541 leadership.
Ineffective battle tracking procedures (communications, log posting, and information sharing) at the 1-76 FA TOC caused A Company, 1-69 IN to be left in their blocking positions longer than expected. The night of 4 March 2005 was the last night of the Left Seat Ride for 1-76 FA, and 4-5 March 2005 was the first full duty day for the unit. (Annexes 59C, 63C, 97C).
The spotlight and green laser pointer had proven effective in stopping and turning around vehicles before the car with the Italians arrived at the on-ramp. Many of the vehicles, though, screeched their tires when stopping. While effective for accomplishing the mission, the spotlight and laser pointer may not be the best system from a civilian point of view. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 87C, 132C)
Specialist Lozano did not drop the spotlight until after he fired the warning shots, then immediately transitioned to two hands on his weapon as he fired the disabling shots. (Annexes 79C, 83C, 85C, 87C).
Specialist Lozano spotlighted the car before it reached the Alert Line, fired warning shots as it reached the Warning Line, and fired on the vehicle in an attempt to disable it immediately after it crossed the Warning Line. (Annexes 79C, 87C, 129C, 134C).
Specialist Lozano was the only one to fire his weapon. (Annexes 77C, 79C, 81C, 83C, 85C, 87C, 89C).
The car was traveling at approximately 50 mph as it crossed the Warning Line. (Annex 83C).
Mr. Carpani did not apply his brakes until after the rounds began striking the car. (Annexes 104C, 105C).
Given the cyclic rate of fire of the M240B, Specialist Lozano’s expertise with the weapon, and that only 11 rounds struck the vehicle with only five of those impacting the front of the car, it is highly unlikely that any shots were fired after the car came to a stop. (Annexes 79C, 6G, 1I, 3M).
Both the blocking and overwatch vehicles were moved after the incident as directed by Captain Drew to transport Ms. Sgrena to the Combat Support Hospital. Both vehicles were needed to provide security for the move to the hospital. (Annexes 74C, 77C).
The gunner complied with the Rules of Engagement. After operating the spotlight, and perceiving the on-coming vehicle as a threat, he fired to disable it and did not intend to harm anyone in the vehicle. (Annexes 79C, 83C).
There were a number of unrelated events that had a role in the incident. These were: (1) bad weather forcing a VIP to convoy on Route Irish that evening vice the preferred method of traveling by helicopter; (2) communications problems involving a unit new to the AOR that caused the Soldiers to be left in position longer than expected; (3) the recovery of Ms. Sgrena being pushed back daily, for several days, to 4 March 2005; (4) the Italians did not know the Soldiers were at the on-ramp, and were not expecting any such roadblocks; and (5) the Soldiers did not know the Italians were traveling to BIAP. (Annexes 51C, 52C, 57C, 59C, 60C, 61C, 63C, 97C, 104C, 105C, 107C, 109C, 116C, 117C, 118C, 119C, 120C, 121C, 122C).
Mr. Carpani was driving faster than any other vehicle observed by the Soldiers that evening. He failed to stop for the spotlight since he was not expecting a roadblock. Additionally, he was dealing with multiple distractions including talking on the phone while driving, the conversation in the back seat, trying to listen for threats, driving on a wet road, focusing on tasks to be accomplished, the need to get to the airport, and the excited and tense atmosphere in the car. (Annexes 104C, 105C, 125C, 140C). Any one of these would have affected his reaction time.
Recommend the Force Protection Working Group consider the use of additional non-lethal measures (e.g., spike strips, temporary speed bumps, and wire) be emplaced to slow down or stop vehicles before the use of disabling shots. The intent is to provide as many non-lethal options as possible before asking a Soldier to focus on firing the weapon.
Recommend that the Force Protection Working Group, in conjunction with MNC-I Information Operations, propagate a Public Awareness/Public Service Campaign to inform all drivers of their responsibilities for behavior when approaching and while at Coalition Checkpoints. This information could be posted on panels or boards at airports and other major transportation centers, as well as in pamphlets to be distributed from various locations, to include rental car agencies and border control points. This public awareness campaign should enhance safe operations by promoting mutual trust, cooperation, and confidence for Coalition Forces and Iraqi citizens as well as formally outlining expected driver behavior throughout the AOR.
Recommend the Force Protection Working Group consider the following points as they develop the MNC-I SOP for TCP operations:
1 + Different signs for ECPs, TCPs, and BPs. For example:
0 o Road Closed — Do Not Enter (for BPs).
1 o Coalition Checkpoint Ahead — Proceed Slowly and Follow Directions (for TCPs).
Signs written in Arabic and English should, where possible, also incorporate international symbols to accommodate foreign nationals as they begin operating in Iraq.
1 + Highly visible and quickly deployable checkpoint and roadblock warning signs for Soldiers on patrol.
2 + Standards for when and how to use spotlights and lasers.
3 + The use of hand-held signs as an alternative to hand-and-arm signals.
Recommend a review of frequently established TCP locations to consider the use of existing permanent highway overpass signs that warn drivers that checkpoints may be upcoming (e.g., “Possible Checkpoint Ahead — Next Exit”).
Recommend an assessment of the current technique of requiring the gunner to operate both the spotlight and the weapon in the turret of the vehicle. This will allow more reaction time and simplify duties and responsibilities of the gunner.
Further recommend a transition to a more driver friendly alert signal by substituting devices such as rotating warning lights and sirens to replace spotlights as early warning tools.
Recommend periodic reviews of Right Seat/Left Seat Ride Relief in Place procedures based on:
1 + Transfer of Authority between units (before and after).
2 + Changes in MTOE equipment.
3 + Significant changes in the operational environment.
These reviews will ensure there is rigor in enforcing standards and essential tasks in accordance with existing SOPs. Further recommend MSC enforcement of “Right Seat/Left Seat Ride” certification programs where outgoing commanders certify incoming units’ ability to perform required tasks before TOA. This will ensure Soldiers and leaders can properly execute tasks to standard and understand the reasons for tasks that deviate from established procedures as a result of any recent changes.
Recommend the MSC Commanders review MNF FRAGO 1269/5 2005 Dec 04 with subordinate commands to ensure thorough fratricide reporting and investigation of fratricide incidents. The use of Rapid Response Teams (SJA, PAO, PMO, CID, Safety, etc.) to provide support to the on-site commander is highly recommended.
Recommend development of a casualty post-incident procedure reference guide to assist junior leaders in accurately preserving incident scenes as much as time and the tactical situation allow.
Some key pieces of information could include:
1 + Diagram of the scene to include exact grid of locations of personnel/equipment included.
2 + Amount of ammunition expended.
3 + Digital photos.
4 + Chronology of events.
5 + Personnel involved with the incident.
6 + Personnel on-site at the time of the incident.
7 + Permission to stand down or remove any equipment.
Recommend that no disciplinary action be taken against any Soldier involved in the incident.
Recommend that this report be circulated to all MNC-I Major Subordinate Commanders for use as an After Action Review tool.
This section addresses the status of coordination with MNF-I, MNC-I, and their subordinate units regarding the recovery and transport of Ms. Sgrena on 4 March 2005. Further, it examines the role that Captain Green played in this incident.
B. MNF-I/MNC-I Involvement
When moving through another unit’s battlespace in a combat zone, coordination with forces in the area is required for situational awareness, and, more importantly, for deconfliction of unit movements, positioning, and operations. For example, 2/10 MTN has successfully coordinated and executed previous movements and operations of units and forces not assigned to their AOR. The unit had coordinated, sometimes on relatively short notice, with numerous Joint Special Operations Units, Special Missions Units, and Special Tactics Units before 4 March 2005, with no incidents. (Annex 65C).
To determine who or what organizations were aware of the Sgrena recovery and transport operation, sworn statements were taken from key military officials within MNF-I, MNC-I, and their subordinate units that, by their function, would have had access to information about such an operation. A statement was also provided by the Political Military Counselor, U.S. Embassy Baghdad. The results are listed below:
1 + No one at the U.S. Embassy, including the Political Military Counselor, knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annex 114C).
2 + No one within the MNF-I leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 1C to 27C).
3 + No one, with one exception to be addressed below, within the MNC-I leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 28C to 43C).
4 + No one within the 3ID leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 44C to 56C).
5 + No one within 4 BCT knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annex 5M).
6 + No one within the 1-76 FA leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 58C to 63C).
7 + No one within the 2/10 MTN leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 65C to 71C).
8 + No one within the 1-69 IN leadership knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 72C, 96C to 99C).
9 + No one at the BIAP Command Post knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annex 110C).
10 + No one at the Hostage Working Group knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annex 126C).
11 + No one with A Company, 1-69 IN knew about the Sgrena operation until after the shooting incident had occurred. (Annexes 76C, 78C, 80C, 82C, 84C, 86C, 88C, 90C, 92C).
Thus, it can be positively stated that the U.S. military was totally unaware of the recovery and transport of Ms. Sgrena on 4 March 2005 until after the shooting incident had occurred.
C. Captain Green
Captain Green (USA) is the Aide-de-Camp to Major General Mario Marioli (ITAR), DCG, MNC-I. (Annex 107C). As early as 28 February 2005, Captain Green was aware that a number of Italian VIPs would be coming into BIAP. The date for their arrival kept getting pushed back. He was aware that the VIPs would be involved in working the Sgrena hostage situation. Captain Green knew no specifics beyond that. (Annexes 107C, 109C).
At approximately 1330 hours on 4 March 2005, Captain Green, Lieutenant Colonel Zarcone (ITAR), and one PSD departed for BIAP, arriving at about 1350 hours. Major General Marioli and another PSD arrived shortly thereafter. (Annex 107C). The plane finally arrived at 1626. (Annex 1H). Eleven passengers deplaned and were immediately taken to the Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory. There, security badges were obtained for five of the VIPs. (Annexes 106C, 107C).
Captain Green accompanied three Italian VIPs, Major General Marioli, and two PSDs in three cars to a location about one kilometer beyond Checkpoint 539 on Route Irish. Two Italians left, heading into Baghdad. The rest of the group waited at the site for a short while, returned to Camp Victory, then went back to the spot past Checkpoint 539. Major General Marioli did not want Captain Green to go back out to Checkpoint 539, but Captain Green, as his aide, insisted since his presence would be necessary to interface with the U.S. security forces in the area. (Annexes 100C, 106C, 107C).
At approximately 2030 hours, Major General Marioli approached Captain Green and asked him how he was doing and if Lieutenant Colonel Zarcone had told him what was going on. Captain Green said no, but that he suspected it had something to do with the Italian journalist. Major General Marioli said “Yes, but it is best if no one knows.” Captain Green took this as an order from a General Officer not to pass that information on to anyone. (Annex 109C). Moreover, Major General Marioli did not intend for Captain Green to take any action whatsoever on that information. He only told Captain Green so that he would not be surprised when Ms. Sgrena arrived. (Annex 100C).
Approximately 20 minutes later, a phone call came in to the third Italian VIP at the site near Checkpoint 539. The call brought news of the shooting. Captain Green made contact with U.S. personnel in a nearby Bradley Fighting Vehicle and confirmed the shooting. Captain Green subsequently was able to speak with Captain Drew at BP 541. Captain Green discussed the matter with Captain Drew and relayed to Major General Marioli that it was best for them to return to Camp Victory as the wounded were being transported to the Combat Support Hospital in the International Zone. (Annex 107C). Major General Marioli was very appreciative of Captain Green’s coordination efforts following the shooting. (Annex 100C).
Captain Green was not informed of the recovery and transport of Ms. Sgrena until a short time before the incident at BP 541 occurred. (Annex 109C). He was not expected to take any action in the matter as it was an Italian national issue, nor was he in a position of any authority to do so. (Annex 100C). He was obeying an order from Major General Marioli. (Annex 109C).
No U.S. military personnel within MNF-I, MNC-I (to include Captain Green), or subordinate units were informed by the Government of Italy of the hostage rescue mission that occurred on 4 March 2005. (Annexes 1C to 56C, 58C to 63C, 65C to 72C, 76C, 78C, 80C, 82C, 84C, 86C, 88C, 90C, 92C, 96C to 99C, 110C, 114C, 126C, 7M).
Not coordinating with U.S. personnel was a conscious decision on the part of the Italians as they considered the hostage recovery an Intelligence mission and a national issue. (Annex 100C).
Based upon previous successful coordination efforts by 3ID and 2/10 MTN working with organizations from various agencies outside their chain of command, it is clear that, while the hostage recovery operation may have otherwise been a success, prior coordination might have prevented this tragedy. Iraq is still a hostile environment, i.e, a combat zone, and the more coordination that can be done to increase situational awareness of those operating within the battlespace, the better it is for all involved. (Annex 65C).