July 15, 2008

AFP Blows it Again Maybe Not This Time [Updated]

[See the final update at the bottom -- ed.]

So I'd like AFP to explain one simple thing to me about this photo:

US soldiers secure the area at a newly installed check-point at the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq. At least 28 people were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowd of recruits on an Iraqi army base in an area known to be a stronghold of Al-Qaeda fighters. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

Just how is it possible that U.S. combat forces are protecting the site of the Babadag training facility in Tulcea, Iraq when equipped with non-lethal MILES gear that fires nothing but blanks?

And do we even train with MILES gear in Iraq?

I call shenanigans.

Update: The vehicle in the photo a non-up-armored HMMWV, painted in an obsolete woodland camo pattern (as are the vests of both soldiers, and helmet cover of the solder in the HMMWV), a pattern no longer used by U.S. forces in Iraq.

This picture is probably several years old, and is probably taken somewhere other than Iraq.

The photographer, Daniel Mihailescu, was theoretically in Bucharest, Romania, just five days ago, in order to take this picture. Is it even a practical possibility that the sports photographer even get from Bucharest to Iraq in less than five days?

They have the details of the event completely wrong.. did AFP they credit the wrong photographer as well?

Update: Wrong Date, Wrong Country, Wrong Event. They did, however, credit the correct photographer. Thanks to slublog in the comments at Hot Air.

Final Update: After continued digging involving the help of the U.S miltary and AFP itself, the source of this screw-up has been confirmed, and it isn't the AFP.


Details tomorrow; even bloggers have to sleep.

(h/t CY-reader BohicaTwentyTwo)

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 15, 2008 08:56 AM

Would they be wearing the woodland camo colors in Iraq too? It looks awfully green in the picture.

Posted by: Sebastian at July 15, 2008 09:20 AM

What a bunch of asshats. This is clearly training in CONUS.

Posted by: The Fastest Squirrel at July 15, 2008 09:24 AM

Hey, I wore woodland cammies in Iraq! Of course, that was during Desert Storm.

Posted by: James Joyner at July 15, 2008 09:52 AM

Its a recent picture, they both have ACU's on. The reason for the woodland camo on the HUMVEE and kevlar cover is most like the result of being in the reserves or national guard. I am in the reserves and our vehicles and equipment are still woodland camo

Posted by: jacob at July 15, 2008 10:05 AM

Its most likely either a KFOR exercise or training at the JRTC at Fort Polk. I can't tell, but the Soldier to the right looks like he has the old PASGT helmet and not the ACH, so it is either an old photo or a reserve or NG unit.

Posted by: Baker at July 15, 2008 10:20 AM

No, the photo is real. These soldiers are part of Maybe President Obambo's new military exploratory committee. Bullets hurt people and cause pain so from now on no live rounds will be used and the soldiers will just yell "BANG"!

Posted by: Gripper at July 15, 2008 10:26 AM

Guys -

Read the bumber numbers. That's 18th MP BDE, an active duty unit. Odds are 50-50 that this was taken at Ft Bragg or Ft Polk, during a training exercise. I highly doubt that picture is anywhere in the Gulf, given the presence of MILES gear. That's some unit training for their rotation to Iraq or Afghanistan.

In any event, there's no way in hell they're guarding anything with BFA's on their weapons.

Posted by: Brant at July 15, 2008 10:27 AM

Thanks for showing the right photo. I know when I link to the Yahoo photos and they add more, the wrong photo shows. I had faith you would find the right one. And that's some mighty fine foliage they got going on in the background.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at July 15, 2008 10:31 AM

Ok well actually in 2003-2004 and even up till 2005 there WERE units using woodland cammo vehicles, I deployed with the Hawai'i based 2nd Bde 25th ID, and ALL our vehicles were woodland cammo. RFI took care of the helmet covers and we got the ACHs in-country. The MILES gear can't be explained away though. I'm willing to bet its either a Guard unit, or an MP unit, judgeing by the 18th Bde. More likely an MP unit. As to where it was taken, well that's anyone's guess unless they can tell what unit it was and when it was taken

Posted by: Doc B at July 15, 2008 11:01 AM

Nice catch. How prominent is AFP (i.e. Agence France-Presse) located at

Posted by: Mark30339 at July 15, 2008 11:09 AM

"Securing the area"... with blank deflectors (that's what those red things on the ends of the barrels are).

I don't think so.

Posted by: SSG Jeff (USAR) at July 15, 2008 11:47 AM

To add just for fun: The vehicle itself: M-998 Variant with NO uparmor package. (Standard mil-spec class 2 glass, no extra armor visable, standard windshield wipers) Standard turrent ring, (new turret rings are armored up, powered, and called the 'turtle' cause thats what it looks like) No AC unit visable, (yeah just about all of the HMMWVs now have either integrated air conditioning or add-on units) Standard radiator (front grill shows no mdifications that I see on a daily basis) and FWIW, the lights aren't taped over as 98% of them are up north, and even down here in Kuwait (train the way you fight.) and lastly, That type of bumper grill is also VERY rare in Iraq... usually they have a MUCH heavier one. Just my 2 Cents.

Posted by: Big Country at July 15, 2008 12:08 PM

Just read the Hotair updates. I could understand the French having problems telling the difference between training weapons and real weapons (what, too soon?), but not being able to tell the difference between Iraq and Romania?

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at July 15, 2008 12:15 PM

There isnt even a Tulcea, Iraq

Posted by: Web at July 15, 2008 12:55 PM

Maybe "Tulcea" is the mangled French pronunciation of "Tulsa".

Posted by: buck at July 15, 2008 01:54 PM

I thought under the potential new ROE under the possible President Obama even yelling "Bang," was unacceptable unless it was first vetted by the lawyers and then only allowed to be spoken at no more than 60 decibels in case of those being "shot" at that are sensitive to noise?

Posted by: Pat Patterson at July 15, 2008 02:00 PM

Babadag is in Tulcea, ROMANIA. It's a V Corps training facility. This is a recent photo, but not in Iraq. See Hotair, Slublog.

Posted by: Cyfir at July 15, 2008 02:13 PM

Anyone familiar with firearms would recognize that the weapons had blank adaptors. Blank adaptors cover the end of the muzzle and allow a weapon firing blanks to retain enough back pressure to chamber another round. Without the blank adaptor each blank would have to be chambered manually. Firing live rounds through a weapon with a blank adaptor would cause the weapon to explode in the firer's face.

Keeping the barrel of weapon unobstructed is one of those day-one things you learn if you've ever been taught anything about guns. I think this would be called a "teaching moment" for some of the media.

Posted by: CW at July 15, 2008 03:14 PM

Tulcea and Babadag are in Romania.

Posted by: mircea at July 15, 2008 05:28 PM

Like who cares? They pulled a file photo out so mental midgets like you can waste time complaining. Wow, we learn amazing pieces of trivia from bloggers, sure beats the dreaded MSM.

Posted by: Jakester at July 15, 2008 07:06 PM

Jakester, if we're wasting time complaining, what are you doing when you're complaining about our complaining, hmmm?

Talk about a distinct lack of logic...

Posted by: C-C-G at July 15, 2008 07:39 PM

Good call, Jakester, this has absolutely nothing to do with the integrity or accuracy of the media, their high editorial standards, and their vaunted layers of fact checking.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 15, 2008 08:28 PM

As someone said earlier, that truck is a M998. To the reservist earlier, yes some reserve units do still have old trucks, and old uniforms, but when they are activated they get the new uniforms, and they fall in on the vehicles and equipment of the unit they are doing the RIP with in theater, they do not take their old trucks with them.

That is something you would know if you had deployed.

Posted by: Matt at July 15, 2008 08:48 PM

This isn't AFP or the photographer's fault. They correctly captioned the photo. The Yahoo editor is the one who altered the text.

Posted by: joey at July 15, 2008 09:52 PM

Its never your fault, always blame it on someone else.

Yeah that sounds about right.

Posted by: Matt at July 16, 2008 10:34 PM

The only other thing that I noticed was that leaves are not found in any desert, unless they are non-native the only green comes from riverside tropical plants that resemble a tall aloe plant.

I also would like to note that it probably wasn't taken in the south. Ft. Benning and Ft Bragg are surrounded with weeping willows, and that looks more like an elm. I really can't tell for sure.

I would guess Colorado.

Posted by: lawrface at July 16, 2008 11:41 PM