How a Gunship Destroyed a Hospital in Afghanistan

Uncategorized June 3, 2016 War Is Boring 0

An AC-130H fires its flares. U.S. Air Force photo Podcast — poor communications and tired soldiers led to disaster by MATTHEW GAULT The United States keeps some very old,...
An AC-130H fires its flares. U.S. Air Force photo

Podcast — poor communications and tired soldiers led to disaster

by MATTHEW GAULT

The United States keeps some very old, very strange-looking planes in its arsenal. But each serves a purpose. The A-10 Warthog provides close-air support to ground troops. The B-52 drops bombs, but is so large and easy to spot that it also sends a message.

Then there’s the AC-130 gunship, a propeller-driven plane brimming with guns and cannons. To put it simply, it’s a flying howitzer capable of loitering over a battlefield for hours at a time. To America’s insurgent enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s the AC-130 — not a lumbering Stratofortress — that sends a clear message.

However, the October 2015 strike by a U.S. Air Force AC-130 on the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan tragically demonstrated that the gunship is only as good as its crew and the information they receive. At least 42 people, including 13 medical staff, died in the strike according to Doctors Without Borders.

This week on War College, War Is Boring’s Joseph Trevithick walks us through the flying anachronism and the damage it can still do.

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