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Lt. Col. Pat Stogram Speaking on Friendly Fire Incident

Aired April 18, 2002 - 09:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And unfortunately, we got to go to Kandahar right now for the latest on that friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.

COLONEL FRANK WIERCINSKI, U.S. ARMY: The cost of this fight has been great, but our commitment remains greater.

LT. COL. PAT STOGRAM, CANADIAN ARMY: Let me begin by conveying to the families and friends of the soldiers who perished in today's tragic incident, on behalf of myself and all members of the 3 PPCLI Battle Group, our sincerest heartfelt condolences. Words cannot express the profound sense of loss and grief that we share with you.

Paratroopers are a special breed of soldiers, and these young men were amongst the finest, bravest paratroops I have ever soldiered with. They have sacrificed their lives in the name of Canada, protecting our way of life from the scourge of terrorism. They will not be forgotten.

To the families and friends of those paratrooper who were injured, we remain committed to providing our heroes the best possible support we can to get them on their way to a full and speedy recovery. We will be with you and your loved ones through this difficult time.

In the wake of this terrible loss, the 3 PPCLI Battle Group will remain steadfast in our mission. Our spirit is not shaken, our resolve unwavering.

I would like to personally thank Colonel Wiercinski and the men and women of Task Force Rakasan for the tremendous support to our battle group in the aftermath of this tragic event. Together with our brothers in arms, the Rakasans, we will continue to move forward as a cohesive committed force in this campaign against terrorism.

Thank you.

ZAHN: We dipped into this as we were just hearing Colonel Frank Wiercinski of the U.S. Army talk a little bit about this friendly fire incident that happened not far from Kandahar. You might remember that four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded.

Now this happened during a training exercise about 20 miles outside of Kandahar. And what is so very difficult about this story right now is that the area in which these Canadian soldiers were operating was clearly a designated area for training. And it appears as though a U.S.-piloted F-16 dropped at least one laser-guided bomb on this area.

You just heard Lieutenant Colonel Pat Stogram of the Canadian Army talking about the sorrow he feels for these families affected by this tragedy but also went on to talk about the importance of this joint mission.

That's the very latest we have. Once again, there is no explanation at this point as to exactly what happened, how it was that this F-16 pilot ended up dropping a bomb on this area because it clearly happen in an area that was designated for training exercises. Maybe later today we'll hear more from the Pentagon on that. And when we have that word, we'll bring it to you live -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine what the pilot of that F-16 is feeling?

ZAHN: I can't. I can't.

CAFFERTY: Unbelievable.

ZAHN: I mean it's obviously -- they told us at least it's so clear this was an accident,...

CAFFERTY: Yes.

ZAHN: ... but why it happened no one knows.

CAFFERTY: Don't know yet.

Amanda Lang's at the New York Stock Exchange, and coincidentally, she comes from Canada. And it was apparent to me watching that clip, I don't know if you could see it or not, of the coverage of that live briefing that while it's, yes, a horrible accident, there's been some loss of life, the absolute dedication on the part of both Canadians and the Americans to completing the mission that they're undertaking over there, that's unwavering and will go forward as though this didn't happen at all and that's pretty impressive stuff.

AMANDA LANG, CNN FINANCIAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. And no surprise, Jack, military men and women are dedicated. The question of course is going to be what the civilian response is. Canadians haven't died in battle since the Korean War. And certainly the media coverage -- good for you for covering it because I was appalled that it wasn't the cover of the "New York Times" this morning. Maybe it missed their deadline, I'm not sure, but friendly fire accidents, I think, should get the same coverage as everything else.

CAFFERTY: Well and this one obviously is going to get increasing coverage as the day here goes on. You might be right in terms of the newspapers, it didn't get as much play as I expected either in a number of the papers, but they go to bed a little earlier in order to make press by tomorrow morning.

LANG: Yes.

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