March 20, 2007

Questionable Caption of the Day

I don't think there is a lot to this AFP photo and caption, but there is just barely enough to make it interesting.

The photo shows a pair of parked HMMWVs on the left, a single U.S. soldier running, and a mostly hidden HMMWV that appears to have been hit by an IED between two large trucks that may (or may not) be recovery vehicles.


The caption reads:

A US soldier takes cover as a roadside bomb targets a US convoy in Baghdad's Bayaa district. Meanwhile, Iraq hanged Saddam Hussein's former deputy Taha Yassin Ramadan as the nation entered the fifth year of the US-led war still battling a raging insurgency and sectarian conflict.(AFP/Wissam Sami)

The caption is present tense, and is is quite possible that combat engineers have detected another IED near the site where the one HMMWV was disabled. It is not uncommon of insurgents to place multiple IEDs at an ambush location.

That said, there is no sign that the attack happened with the immediacy the caption suggests.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that mounted vehicle patrols in Baghdad typically do not bring recovery vehicles with them, and yet, it appears that two recovery vehicles are positioned in front of and behind the damaged HMMWV. The close proximity of the two other HMMWVs in the picture on the left-hand side (both in relation to the damaged vehicle, and to each other), strongly suggests that security had already been established and the site cleared of other possible IED threats.

Then there is the fact we see recovery vehicles and no movement other than the one soldier, suggests that those soldiers in the damaged HMMWV have already been evacuated from the area.

An AP picture taken in the same neighborhood on the same day seems to be from the same incident (the door in the street the AP photo also seems to match up with the missing door in the AFP photo), and states that casualties were medevaced by helicopter from the scene. This would have happened in advance of a vehicle recovery effort. Perhaps more telling, the AP caption mentions only one bomb.

Is the AFP exaggerating the immedicacy of this photo in order to sell it to news outlets? It's impossible to tell from just a pair of photos, but it would not be all that surprising if that turned out to be the case.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 20, 2007 10:30 AM

Just a quick word for people who ain't been there. The patrols do not take recovery assets out with them. This picture had to have been taken at least an hour after the HMMWV was destroyed. EOD would have already cleared the area of other IED's.

Posted by: david_76528 at March 20, 2007 02:38 PM