Retirement; Further Proceedings
The 8th Air Force commander announced decisions regarding the
“friendly-fire” cases of Majs. Harry Schmidt and
William Umbach on June 19. Neither pilot will be referred to trial
The two Illinois Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots
from the 170th Fighter Squadron faced a variety of charges stemming from the
April 17, 2002, incident that killed four Canadian soldiers and
injured eight others near Tarnak Farms, Afghanistan.
After reviewing the
evidence and the Article 32 hearing officer’s
recommendations, Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson decided the following:
- Regarding Umbach, Carlson issued a letter of reprimand to the
major for his leadership failures as the lead pilot in the two-ship
flight. Umbach recently submitted a requested to retire from the
Air Force, and Carlson said he intends to recommend that his
request be granted.
- Carlson initiated nonjudicial-punishment proceedings for
Schmidt under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The proceedings permit commanders to examine whether a military
member should be held accountable for criminal offenses specified
in the UCMJ, unless the servicemember demands trial by
Under Article 15 proceedings, a member is notified by his
commander of the nature of the charged offenses, the evidence
supporting them and the intent to impose nonjudicial punishment. A
member may consult with defense counsel to determine whether to
accept the proceedings or demand trial. Acceptance of the
proceedings is not an admission of guilt.
If Schmidt chooses the
nonjudicial-punishment forum, the proceedings will examine the
allegations that the wingman failed to ensure that the target he
attacked was not friendly, failed to acknowledge and follow the
direction of his flight leader to make sure that the target was not
friendly and failed to stand by as directed by the airborne warning
and control system aircraft.
A member who accepts nonjudicial-punishment proceedings is
entitled to present matters in defense, extenuation and mitigation,
orally, in writing or both. If the commander concludes that the
member has committed one or more offenses, punishment may be
The aaximum punishment that a general
officer may impose under Article 15 on an officer includes
forfeiture of one half of one-month’s pay per month for two
months, arrest in quarters for 30 days, restriction to specified
geographical limits for 60 days and a reprimand.
Carlson also formally recommended that Schmidt’s actions
be reviewed by a flying-evaluation board to determine whether he
should be permitted to fly Air Force aircraft in the future. A
board review is not dependent on the outcome of the separate
Article 15 action.