Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Friendly fire or non-hostile fire is United States military parlance for fire from friendly forces, as opposed to fire coming from enemy forces, which is known as "enemy fire". In a friendly fire incident, forces or material assets of one side are attacked and damaged in error by those of their own or their allies.
In British military parlance these incidents are referred to as blue-on-blue, a term stemming from wargaming exercises where friendly forces are blue and enemy forces are red. The term fratricide is sometimes used as well, but more properly refers to deliberate attacks upon one's own forces.
Friendly fire incidents fall roughly into two classes. The first is due to errors of position, where fire aimed at enemy forces accidentally ends up hitting one's own. Such incidents were relatively common during the first and second World Wars, where troops fought in close proximity and targeting was relatively inaccurate.
The second class is due to errors of identification, where friendly troops are mistakenly attacked in the belief that they are enemy. This class has been more common in recent times, since greater weapon accuracy has diminished misfiring. Highly mobile battles, and battles involving troops from many nations are more likely to cause this kind of incident.
Rightly or wrongly, the armed forces of the US are widely believed to be more prone to friendly fire incidents than the military of other nations. The Pentagon estimates of US friendly fire deaths are:
- WW II: 21,000 (16%)
- Vietnam war: 8,000 (14%)
- Gulf War: 35 (23%)
- Afghanistan (2002): 4 (13%)
- Fragging, intentional killing of a friendly soldier
- Christopher Finney, British soldier awarded the George Cross for bravery under friendly fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- Harry Schmidt, U.S. military pilot responsible for friendly fire incident in the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
- Pat Tillman, famous American football player and friendly fire victim in Afghanistan
- Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist who was almost killed by US troops after her liberation.
- Friendly Fire Notebook, List of U.S. friendly fire incidents
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