Media fires blanks on military picture

posted at 11:40 am on July 15, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Bob Owens and McQ call shenanigans on the AFP for a new photograph that purportedly shows American soldiers securing a training base in Iraq after a suicide bombing.  The rifle held by the soldier in the foreground has an attachment that makes it rather unsuitable for securing anything — except perhaps Princess Leia or the Millenium Falcon:

The red attachment is a laser transmitter, part of the MILES system used by soldiers for non-lethal combat training.  When soldiers press the trigger, it sends a laser burst that can be detected on gear that other soldiers wear, and it can also be used with blank cartridges for more realistic training.  Any rifle equipped with the MILES system is useless for actual security purposes.

Bob and McQ question whether this picture even comes from Iraq.  It’s possible that the military uses MILES at Babadag.  It would make sense that we would employ this system to train Iraqi Army units.  AFP would not likely be taking pictures of American training facilities in the US, and they must at least have a tracking system to tell them the source of the photographs they publish.  However, it’s a measure of their ignorance on military matters that their layer of fact-checkers and editors missed the fact that the rifle had a big red attachment on it that strongly suggests that it wouldn’t be able to fire real bullets, and that they never bothered to ask about it.

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The lush green foliage in the background, along with the green camo they and their vehicle are wearing tell me they are nowhere near Iraq.

CurtZHP on July 15, 2008 at 11:48 AM

D’oh!

trs on July 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Isn’t the Camo wrong as well…

Hummer is not painted Desert… Guys are no in Desert, and it does not look like the new Digital…

Romeo13 on July 15, 2008 at 11:49 AM

The red attachment is a laser transmitter, part of the MILES system

Actually the red metal part is the plug for the barrel that makes the gas system work with blank ammunition. The black box above the barrel is the housing for the laser.

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Gee the press doesn’t know anything about military issues, and I guess I’m supposed to be surprised.

Here’s a prediction from previous examples of this lack of knowledge from the press. They’ll denounce the bloggers who noticed this, until Fox News runs it. Then they’ll withdraw the picture and announce that they’ve started an investigation that will be invisible and accomplish nothing.

They may do a story on how and why the Press seems to be making mistakes with their pictures lately, and they’ll decide it has something to do with file names on hard drives and move along to the next Obama is grand story.

Snake307 on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

They bring reporters in to observe training sessions from time to time. I think they just pulled some old photo out of the archives and used that. 99% of the time, they get away with stuff like that.

RBMN on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Ed….

The photo…bumper markings ARE

18th Military Police Brigade, 793rd Military Police Battalion, currently deployed in Camp Victory, Iraq.
http://www.18mp.army.mil/

Now the photo shows them in Europe camis and that is a blank attachment so the photo could be from Europe, or they simply are on a training exercise in Iraq.

Limerick on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Dr. Evil’s ground troops.

fogw on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Having used this system I can point out that you can also clearly see the sensors that detect the “shot” on the first soldier’s vest. The small black circular objects.

DerKrieger on July 15, 2008 at 11:51 AM

That’s the new “Laser Death Ray” issued to our troops. It just looks like the MILES training system. ;)

evilned on July 15, 2008 at 11:51 AM

LMAO on the whole thing. Layers of editors and fact-checkers, indeed. The MSM is DOA. Throw this on the pile with Ron Fournicate at the AP, gas, match.

Jaibones on July 15, 2008 at 11:51 AM

Sure enough, you can see the big red blank adapter on the guy’s gun in the foreground plain as day.

IIRC, MILES laser emitters are activated by the gases blown back from the blank as it’s fired. You can’t use the MILES gear without firing blanks. The blank adapter allows compression of the gas that would ordinarily be produced by a live round in the barrel, so the weapon operates normally.

flipflop on July 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Now you’ve done it, Ed. Obama’s going to think the military has laser blasters.

Cicero43 on July 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM

lol both weapons shown have suppressors for the blanks.
i cleaned miles gear as a duty job at ft.benning in the late 80′s, never been able to look at q-tips the same since lol

trailortrash on July 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM

The are wearing MILES gear.

Just like evilned said.

WoosterOh on July 15, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Maybe they figure laser dots scare these nuts more than actual bullets. If they can get the red dot to stay permanent between their eyes, fellow Muslims will torture them to death for being Hindus.

Hening on July 15, 2008 at 11:53 AM

And yes, you can see the MILES receiver gear on the strip on their helmet and woodland camouflage vest that consists of a little black half globe that records a ‘hit’ from the laser that blinks from a rifle when fired with a blank round of ammunition. No soldier would ever wear any laser training gear while forward deployed in a hostile zone.

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Give the media some credit. At least they’re American soldiers.

Cicero43 on July 15, 2008 at 11:55 AM

… two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of recruits on an Iraqi army base …

And yet they keep on coming, class after class of volunteers, becoming soldiers to defend their country from the scumbags like the two gullible idiots who blew themselves up in a useless attempt to stop people from joining the new Iraqi Army.

They’ve joined by the hundreds of thousands, to be trained by American Troops, despite claims by our lefties that the Iraqi people see us as occupiers.

Tony737 on July 15, 2008 at 11:56 AM

No, the red attachment is a BFA… Blank Firing Adapter. Blank ammo is usually underpowered. IT can also fracture and send shrapnel into the Marine you are firing at.

The MILES laser appears to be above the barrell. I’ve seen 5 generations of MILES gear, this appears to be one of the really new ones.

Thirdly, that’s an unarmored hummer. And the old M998 version, too.

Mazztek on July 15, 2008 at 11:56 AM

They bring reporters in to observe training sessions from time to time. I think they just pulled some old photo out of the archives and used that. 99% of the time, they get away with stuff like that.
RBMN on July 15, 2008 at 11:50 AM

The photo’s caption reads:

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq. At least 28 people were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of recruits on an Iraqi army base in an area known to be a stronghold of Al-Qaeda fighters.

So they are showing a photo from a training facility in Iraq … and then the second part of the paragraph talks about another area in Iraq where people were killed?

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 11:56 AM

So is the “the Babadag training facility in Tulcea,” an “Iraqi army base?”

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Sounds like my kids playing laser tag when they were kids.

:)

Bob's Kid on July 15, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Even if the media doesn’t get anything military, are they color blind as well? Green camo? My own little kids would know that doesn’t wash.

Redhead Infidel on July 15, 2008 at 12:01 PM

If they can get the red dot to stay permanent between their eyes, fellow Muslims will torture them to death for being Hindus. – Hening

Ha! Then the Left would scream “Hate crime!” and finally join the war … Wellllll, they’re already in the war, but maybe they’d come over to OUR side!

Tony737 on July 15, 2008 at 12:03 PM

No dust on the vehicle.

Iraq = 90% dust.

profitsbeard on July 15, 2008 at 12:03 PM

that purportedly shows American soldiers securing a training base in Iraq after a suicide bombing.

The caption:

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq. At least 28 people were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of recruits on an Iraqi army base in an area known to be a stronghold of Al-Qaeda fighters.

Does not say “after.”

They do seem like two different sentences that do not belong together with the same photograph. I wonder if the caption writer wrote the first 18 words of the picture, and then needed to fill in more so added the news of a suicide bombing that may have been at the same facility but on a different part of the base, maybe even a different day.

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:04 PM

My wikipedia tells me that Babadag is in Romania.

terryannonline on July 15, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Those are funny looking helmets for American soldiers. I call b.s.

Blake on July 15, 2008 at 12:04 PM

The training facility is actually in Romania. A correctly-captioned picture is available here.

Slublog on July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Everyone,,,,

check out the 18th MP Brigade newsletters on their web page that I posted. The photos show a mix of gear and the training of Iraqi security forces.

Those troops are currently in Iraq and have been for over six months (18th BDE, 793rd Military Police). This photo is completely believeable if they are training Iraqi security personnel in a type of police/security training facility.

Limerick on July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM

But…but…it was such a beutiful story…

Sir Napsalot on July 15, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Slublog on July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM

10 points, two cases of beer and three racks of ribs.

Limerick on July 15, 2008 at 12:07 PM

They could have called Kos if they didn’t know what they were looking at. He’s a vet and of a political viewpoint these “journalists” feel comfortable with. I don’t know what his MOS was when he was in but surely he would know MILES equipment and a blank adapter when he saw them.

Terri on July 15, 2008 at 12:07 PM

By now it must be pretty much a given that the MSM doesn’t know a latrine from a latte.

To see the real message of the picture series, take a look at the text accompanying #11/12/13, #19 and #21 (Note wistful tone of last phrase on this one.) – there might be more, but I stopped looking…

Facts are simply inconvenient obstacles that the MSM must overcome while on their real mission of influencing opinions.

sandcrab on July 15, 2008 at 12:07 PM

Notice those little round black things around the helmet and on the uniform? Those are the sensors for the MILES gear, so it is definitely not a picture taken in combat and is a photo from a training exercise.

JeffinSac on July 15, 2008 at 12:07 PM

And just to add to the fun, the AFP photog ID’d seems to specialize in soccer pictures, and was in Romania less than 5 days ago.

I’ve contacted MNF-I and MND-B PAOs, and I am awaiting a response.

Bob Owens on July 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Hey Ed-

Actually, the red attachment is the blank adapter.

When firing blanks, the blank adapter is screwed into the muzzle of the rifle, which regulates the the amount of pressure used to re-chamber the next round. Without it, automatic fire would not be possible, because there is no bullet to seal the barrel. The combustion gases would exit through the muzzle without building up enough pressure to re-chamber the next round.

The actual laser component is mounted on top the barrel, directly in front of the sights.

CultureWar on July 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM

This reminds me of a photo I saw during the Gulf War, it shows a man sitting next to half a cluster bomb unit (the container drops like a bomb and splits open to release the bomblets) and is captioned: “Jordanian truck driver finds wing of an F-16 shot down by Iraq forces”. Nobody in the media bothered to verify this claim, they just printed it as is.

Tony737 on July 15, 2008 at 12:09 PM

The helmets look like they are ringed by ‘headshot’ counting miles sensors too.. At least the bottom trooper does to my eyes. I saw a frontline episode on this a few years ago, very impressive.. Even the tanks and vehicles are configured for shoots & kills allowing for full combat simulation!

saus on July 15, 2008 at 12:10 PM

The training facility is actually in Romania. A correctly-captioned picture is available here.
Slublog on July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Wow, awesome find. How did you find out?

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:13 PM

saus on July 15, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Agreed the camo vests they are wearing have MILES sensors on them which would explain the jungle color.

Squid Shark on July 15, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Wow, awesome find. How did you find out?

Googled the photographer’s name – turns out a lot of his pictures are distributed by Mediafax.

Slublog on July 15, 2008 at 12:15 PM

AFP’s caption for the photo says

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq.

Well, Tulcea is a town in South-Eastern Romania, and Babadag is about 20 miles due south of it.

The Stars and Stripes reported back in 2005 that a base access deal between the US and Romania was in the offing, a deal that would involve the Babadag base where US and Romanian soldiers already were training together.

Just another useless factoid.

factoid on July 15, 2008 at 12:17 PM

The training facility is actually in Romania. A correctly-captioned picture is available here.
Slublog on July 15, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Interestingly enough, the correct caption is also written by AFP. Seems they adapted it for their latest story.

amerpundit on July 15, 2008 at 12:17 PM

AFP is helping their retarded (in military sense) readers by showing an irrelevant photo.

Otherwise, their subscribers wouldn’t know the business end of a gun or a humvee.

Sir Napsalot on July 15, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Cleaning your weapon after 10 days of firing those blanks… it’s worse than sand.
The battery packs used to be bigger.

christophercube on July 15, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Equipment wrong, uniforms and equipment wrong color, foliage wrong. I guess we should feel lucky if they are actually American soldiers, eh?

michaelo on July 15, 2008 at 12:21 PM

New caption without any explanation in 5…4…3…

profitsbeard on July 15, 2008 at 12:22 PM

Slu to the rescue!

hillbillyjim on July 15, 2008 at 12:23 PM

The helmets look like they are ringed by ‘headshot’ counting miles sensors too..
saus on July 15, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Yeah, they call that the “halo”, and you can see that they’re also wearing the MILES harness too. It’s got black sensors on it that detect the lasers.

CultureWar on July 15, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Anyone else been to Ft. Leonardwood?

Looks like the Miles gear on Basic Trainees!

upinak on July 15, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Equipment wrong, uniforms and equipment wrong color, foliage wrong. I guess we should feel lucky if they are actually American soldiers, eh?
michaelo on July 15, 2008 at 12:21 PM

As I think someone else pointed out, they could have been Candaian.

Twice.

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:32 PM

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Smiles at Wise.

I think it is Ft. Lost in the Woods BCT. They STILL have that old gear!

upinak on July 15, 2008 at 12:33 PM

New caption without any explanation in 5…4…3…

profitsbeard on July 15, 2008 at 12:22 PM

No worries…I’ve saved a screen shot for posterity.

flipflop on July 15, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Ancient weapons and hocus pocus religions are no substitute for a good blaster at your side…

juanito on July 15, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Any rifle equipped with the MILES system is useless for actual security purposes.

Not entirely correct. You can still use the butt-end to slobber-knock someone into next month.

I R A Darth Aggie on July 15, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Anyone else been to Ft. Leonardwood?

No, but it’s about 40 miles from where I went to high school, and my mom still lives nearby. As I recall, they’re just doing combat engineering now-a-days.

I R A Darth Aggie on July 15, 2008 at 12:42 PM

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 11:56 AM

You are correct sir. Here is the AP story on the 28 killed.

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of army recruits in the city of Baqouba on Tuesday, killing at least 28 people, Iraqi police said.

At least 47 recruits were injured in the blast at the Saad military camp in Baqouba, a former stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq located about 35 miles from Baghdad, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. military confirmed the attack, saying it occurred around 8 a.m.

On June 22, a female suicide bomber concealing explosives beneath her black robe struck outside a government complex in Baqouba, capital of Diyala province. At least 15 people were killed and more than 40 were wounded.

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

brtex on July 15, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Babadag; Baqouba; All sounds the same to AFP

brtex on July 15, 2008 at 12:53 PM

New caption:

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at Babadag training facility in the county of Tulcea, during a training exercise July 14. At least 22 people were killed on Tuesday when two suicide bombers blew themselves in a crowd of recruits at an Iraqi army base in an area known to be a stronghold of Al-Qaeda fighters.

wccawa on July 15, 2008 at 1:03 PM

This is no different than the tedious, mind-numbing “highlight” reels that Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc. use whenever the topic of Iraq or Afghanistan pops up. As evidence as to how out of touch they all are, they almost always show Soldiers wearing DCUs rather than ACUs. We haven’t worn DCUs since 2005. I suppose this is an attempt at getting with the times, except that instead of actually going outside of the Palestine Hotel, reporters in Iraq merely do an internet search for photos of Soldiers in ACUs, like this one. And folks wonder why so few Soldiers have any respect for the media…

Send_Me on July 15, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Give the media some credit. At least they’re American soldiers.

Cicero43 on July 15, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Yes it’s a two year old link, but I still feel compelled to say that you didn’t even need to examine the ‘photoshopping’ – simply the fact that the guy’s wearing a poppy should be a big enough giveaway?

Reaps on July 15, 2008 at 1:47 PM

BABADAG (Romania)…Baghdad…they’re so close in spelling I can see how this innocent mistake could be made.

Cut them some slack people. You can’t expect them to create accurate news under such tight time constraints and have them stay faithful to the Dem talking points without a few minor, insignificant, hardly worth correcting mistakes.

/sarc off

ej_pez on July 15, 2008 at 1:50 PM

If you need further proof, just look at the Humvee. It is not of an Uparmored standard such as the M1114 or M1151. Non up armored humvees do not operate outside of the wire in Iraq, in fact they don’t even exist in country any more. There is no turret on the humvee either which is a big no go. Machine guns need to be mounted on a proper mount utilizing a T&E which not only provides more accurate fire if needed, but alleviates geomety of fires issues. This picture was not taken in Iraq that is for sure.

gator70 on July 15, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Tulcea, Iraq? Must be somewhere near Provo, Spain.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 15, 2008 at 2:58 PM

Boy, that’s quality journalism right there. For all we know, this was taken in Georgia (the state, not the country). Those occupiers!

CP on July 15, 2008 at 4:12 PM

I just Googled Babadag, and the first five pages of hits were either from Romania or Turkey–apparently there’s a Babadag Mountain in southwestern Turkey. Nothing about Iraq.

Steve Z on July 15, 2008 at 4:27 PM

On Google, the first 6 pages of hits on Tulcea were all about a city or county near the Danube delta in Romania, near where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. There is a town called Babadag about 20 km south of Tulcea. Now what were our soldiers shooting at over the beautiful Blue Danube? Were they dancing to the waltzes of Johann Strauss?

Steve Z on July 15, 2008 at 4:37 PM

This is from Agence Press France. France. They don’t give their army guns that can shoot (for fear of hurting somebody when they’re dropped prior to surendering) so how would they know the difference.

I was at Leonard Wood for a large-scale training exercise in 1964, Operation Goldfire. I spent 3 or 4 days in the boonies with my HAWK unit then we drove back to Ft. Bliss (Armpit of The Universe)

GeneSmith on July 15, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Not to split hairs but both weapons have BFA’s (blank fire adaptors) in. You can see the rings on the front you use to screw them into the barrel. Also the MILES laser comes out of the black box on top of the weapon. When I was in Iraq I never saw any unit using either, even in training. Also, the soldiers would be in desert fatigues if they were in Iraq.

davenp35 on July 15, 2008 at 6:22 PM

At least they got the uniforms right this time. They now know what American uniforms look like.

Training with MILES sucks.

Mojave Mark on July 15, 2008 at 6:35 PM

Hmmm. If I were a militarily-illiterate dimwit journalist/propagandist who wanted to spin my way out of this embarassing gaffe, what would I write?:

“AFP has discovered that the reason for the ongoing quagmire and imminent defeat of US forces in Iraq is that they have been inadvertently issued non-lethal MILES gear instead of the live ammunition generally used in combat. Former Ranger SEAL Delta operator Commodore Jesse MacBeth says, “This is exactly the incompetence of Bush’s administration of this war that caused the Iraqis to drive us of Baghdad after I parachuted in with the 82nd Airborne. Once we cleared the parachutes off our M-1 tanks, we discovered they were loaded with nerf shells left over from desert training at Fort Irwin. We had to fight our way out through the fedayeen with pocket knives.”

Compounding the error, the troops for the surge were bedeviled by a typographical error in their orders which sent them to Bavaria instead of Baghdad. “Where are the insurgents I was sent to fight,” grumbled Commodore MacBeth. “All I see is trees and cows.”

Tantor on July 15, 2008 at 7:18 PM

Twice.

wise_man on July 15, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Love thy neighbore….. ;)

jerrytbg on July 15, 2008 at 8:20 PM

Tantor on July 15, 2008 at 7:18 PM

ROFLMAO!!!!

jerrytbg on July 15, 2008 at 8:22 PM

Actually many posters are correct about the red blank adapters (you can see the ring on the muzzle of the soldier in the turret area). One point that is being incorrectly stated is the type of uniform. They’re both wearing the current Army digital ACU with a woodland patterned vest and the soldier in the turret has a woodland helmet cover. The Army doesn’t wear DCU (desert) pattern anymore. Soldiers wear ACU digital body armor in combat, not Viet Nam era woodland flack vests like these guys. Even the Air Force is switching to their new ABU pattern which is very similar to the Army’s digital ACU pattern. Hope that helps.

Big John on July 15, 2008 at 9:39 PM

The MSM, experts in everything.

GarandFan on July 15, 2008 at 9:41 PM

“The red attachment is a laser transmitter, part of the MILES system used by soldiers for non-lethal combat training.”

I beg to differ. When you get hit by that rifle, there is an audible beep and you have to lay down because you’re dead. Even if you are a terrorist. It’s one of the rules of warfare.

Kevin M on July 16, 2008 at 12:11 AM

Actually, those red devices are for firing blanks while playing with or without the MILES equipment. They plug up the end of the barrel so when you fire a blank the weapon will cycle another blank into the chamber.

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/cb.aspx?a=282596

That’s it right there. I remember them well.

manfriend on July 16, 2008 at 7:48 AM

When journalism is incapable of the truth, is it still called journalism?

volsense on July 16, 2008 at 11:35 AM