NBC News: "Friendly Fire" to Blame in Arlington Marine's Death in Afghanistan

Categories: News
U.S. Air Force/Roland Balik
A U.S. Marine Corps carry team transferring Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith at Dover Air Force Base on Friday
On Thursday, the Department of Defense issued a release stating, simply, that Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy D. Smith -- a 26-year-old Arlington native -- died on Wednesday "while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan." The official release offered no cause of death and said only that "this incident is under investigation." A story Friday in the Star-Telegram, about the Martin High School graduate who served three tours of duty in Iraq, suggested that perhaps Smith was not killed by enemy fire.

This evening, NBC News confirms as much: According to Jim Miklaszewski, Smith and Navy Corpsman Benjamin Rast were killed in "in an apparent case of friendly fire" cause by a drone air strike. According to unnamed U.S. military officials, they were killed Wednesday after "a Hellfire missile fired from a U.S. Air Force Predator in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity ... Smith and Rast were part of a Marine unit moving in to reinforce fellow Marines under heavy fire from enemy forces outside Sangin in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan."

According to NBC, "It's believed that this is the first time that U.S. service members have been killed by a Predator in a friendly fire incident." Smith's father told the Fort Worth paper his son will be buried this week at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

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El Rey
El Rey

Using a Hellfire Missile is an awful waste of firepower. Hellfires can take out any tank in existence; two dismounted troops would be immolated instantly. As to the factors involved in almost all friendly-fire incidents, this is obviously a sad accident that occurred in the heat of battle.

With that said, my heartfelt condolences go out to the families of Corpsman Rast and SSG Smith. They served with honor and do not let the details of their final minutes overshadow their service to our nation.


I think that all of these drones should have been trashed since day 1! There is no reason that somebody can not be sitting in a plane flying out a mission. The use of these should be mandatory discontinued until the government can figure out a way to be able to make a POSITIVE ID on the target. This mistake is absolutely ridiculous and could have been completely avoided.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

I love the phrase "friendly fire." So much more innocuous-sounding than, "somebody effed up big time."


People like you are people I wish would be drafted. You're ignorance as well as arrogance is enough to blind you from the realities this world holds so I'll make it so simple that an incompetent twelve year old can understand the whole concept of this war. There are groups of very bad people called terrorists. If these people aren't controlled, I'll put it blunt for you "killed", then they will continue to attack other countries. Now im not disagreeing with you about the aircraft but I definitely think the military is at fault for poor communication and before they sent this unpiloted aircraft out they should have communicated better. Now like I was saying, these should be discontinued until they find some way to make a positive ID on a given "target" so to speak.


Furious, if this had been a piloted aircraft, the results would have been no different. Drone aircraft aren't independent. There is a human pilot at a remote station controlling them. In fact, there are often MORE people involved as payload specialists and observers than there are in a manned aircraft sortie. The people involved screwed up, in exactly the same way as happens all too often in war.

Utilizing drones keeps pilots safe. You're right when you say this could have been completely avoided. Unfortunately, the only way it could have been completely avoided is if we weren't fighting a useless war to begin with.

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