Sniper fire?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign said she “misspoke” last week when she said she had landed under sniper fire during a trip she took as first lady to Bosnia in March 1996. The Obama campaign suggested it was a deliberate exaggeration on Clinton’s part.

Clinton wrote: “Due to reports of snipers in the hills around the airstrip, we were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac with local children, though we did have time to meet them and their teachers and to learn how hard they had worked during the war to continue classes in any safe spot they could find.”

The written account in Clinton’s book contradicts the comments she made last Monday about the welcoming ceremony.

Just after her speech last Monday, she reaffirmed the account of running from the plane to the cars when she was asked about it by reporters at a news conference. She said was moved into the cockpit of the C-17 cargo plane as they were flying into Tuzla Air Base.

“Everyone else was told to sit on their bulletproof vests,” Clinton told reporters. “And we came in, in an evasive maneuver. … There was no greeting ceremony, and we basically were told to run to our cars. Now, that is what happened.”

— Ann Saner, “Clinton ‘Misspoke’ on Bosnia Trip“.  Associated Press, March 24th, 2008.

This is what you get when you ask politicians or the Ordinary Joe to describe perfectly ordinary precautions in military airlift.  Look, a ride on a strat- or tac-lifter is going to be a little different than flying United, okay?

When making an approach into an airfield encompassed by a non-permissive or semi-permissive environment, it is common to use any one of a number of tactical ingress procedures.  In the senator’s case it would be a spiralling descent from high altitude.  This is routine for military airlifters.  It is not the sort of thing you would experience or train for as a civilian ATP pilot, but it is the sort of thing military airlift does every single day.  And it is done whether or not actual snipers (or the far more dangerous-to-flight MANPADS) are on the ground.

It is also commonplace to put on protective gear and armor up the cockpit prior to making an approach into a potentially hostile environment.  In fact there are specific, placarded instructions on the C-17 pilot and loadmaster checklists for them to do exactly that.  And if they are decent, regulation-abiding aircrew who wish to continue flying, they will continue to observe standard, placarded procedures whether or not the actual threat condition exists on the ground.  This is all part of aviation safety and ordinary military preparedness.

As for the school kids, I don’t know.  I would consider them a FOD hazard on a busy, wartime ramp, but maybe the Air Force thinks differently.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.