Canadian will be co-chairman of panel on `friendly fire' deaths

April 24, 2002|By COX NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - In what officials called a groundbreaking move, a Canadian will serve as co-chairman in the U.S. investigation of a bombing mistake in Afghanistan that killed four Canadian soldiers.

Canadian Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais will head the panel with an as-yet-unnamed American.

"The intent is for both of us to be co-equals on the American board and to co-sign the report at the end," Dumais said at a news briefing yesterday.

Maurice Baril, Canada's former chief of defense staff and head of the Canadian investigation panel, called the Canadian participation as co-chair "unprecedented" and "indicative of the degree of cooperation and trust that the American military authority have extended."

"It's breaking new ground," Lt. Col. Martin Compton, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command that oversees the war in Afghanistan, said of the co-chairs.

Gen. Tommy Franks, head of Central Command, established an investigation team Monday but has not disclosed the members. Originally, Dumais was a member of the Canadian panel, but Baril said Dumais would now serve it as an adviser.

The incident occurred last week in Afghanistan at a training area near Kandahar. A U.S. F-16 pilot apparently mistook Canadian live-fire exercises for enemy action and dropped a laser-guided bomb. Four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight others were wounded.

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