The Blog

One of TNR's Experts...
Refutes TNR

The truth about Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

3:46 PM, Aug 9, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT it couldn't get worse for the New Republic, Bob Owens reveals what can only be described as a serious deception by the magazine's editors in their statement corroborating Beauchamp's "Shock Troops" article.

In delivering the findings of the magazine's investigation, the editors had stated,

The last section of the Diarist described soldiers using Bradley Fighting Vehicles to kill dogs. On this topic, one soldier who witnessed the incident described by Beauchamp, wrote in an e-mail: "How you do this (I've seen it done more than once) is, when you approach the dog in question, suddenly lurch the Bradley on the opposite side of the road the dog is on. The rear-end of the vehicle will then swing TOWARD the animal, scaring it into running out into the road. If it works, the dog is running into the center of the road as the driver swings his yoke back around the other way, and the dog becomes a chalk outline." TNR contacted the manufacturer of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System, where a spokesman confirmed that the vehicle is as maneuverable as Beauchamp described. Instructors who train soldiers to drive Bradleys told us the same thing. And a veteran war correspondent described the tendency of stray Iraqi dogs to flock toward noisy military convoys.

Why did TNR not include the name of the spokesman who "confirmed that the vehicle is as maneuverable as Beauchamp described"? Because he did no such thing. Owens tracked down this mystery spokesman, now identified as Doug Coffey, head of Communications, Land & Armaments, for BAE Systems, who, it turns out, had never been shown a copy of Beauchamp's story, and who was only asked, in his words, "general questions about vehicle specifications." Owens showed Coffey a copy of the article, and put the question to him: Can the Bradley be operated in the manner described by Beauchamp? His answer, it turns out, was no different than that offered by the Worldwide Standard's own expert, Stuart Koehl, who initially stated that such a maneuver would be virtually impossible, and further that it is inconceivable that such behavior would be tolerated. Here's Coffey:

I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.

The driver's vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to "suddenly swerve to the right" and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.

Anyone familiar with tracked vehicles knows that turning sharply requires the road wheels on the side of the turn to either stop or reverse as the road wheels on the opposite side accelerates. What may not be obvious is that the track once on the ground, doesn't move. The road wheels roll across it but the track itself is stationary until it is pushed forward by the road wheels.

The width of the track makes it highly unlikely that running over a dog would leave two intact parts. One half of the dog would have to be completely crushed.

It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander's independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can't imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.

To repeat: A dog could not have been cut in half as Beauchamp described--and that according to the New Republic's own expert--one half of the dog "would have to be completely crushed." Coffey uses words like suspicious, suspect, and unlikely--yet the New Republic did not see fit to print Coffey's concerns. In fact, they didn't even see fit to show Coffey the original article.