Operation Desert Storm:

Apache Helicopter Fratricide Incident

OSI-93-4: Published: Jun 30, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated the February 17, 1991, friendly fire incident during the Persian Gulf War, focusing on: (1) events and factors that contributed to the incident; (2) the Army's investigation of the incident and the Apaches' performance; and (3) whether the Army improperly released information identifying the gunner.

GAO found that: (1) human error was the primary cause of the friendly fire incident, since the Apache battalion commander misread the grid coordinate on his navigation system and misidentified the target vehicles' location; (2) following its investigation, the Army relieved the battalion commander for failing to exercise command and control over the Apache team; (3) there was no evidence that equipment failure contributed to the incident; (4) there was no evidence that the Army attempted to mislead Congress about the Apaches' performance in the incident; (5) the Army Inspector General (IG) found no evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of Army officials who disclosed the commander's identity to the press; and (6) the Army IG believes that the Army regulation on releasing information on misconduct by individuals should be clarified.

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