AFP Iraq Photo Follies

Bob Owens discovered this photo accompanying an AFP story:

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)

It’s captioned:

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)

Obvious problems with the photo:

  • The troops are wearing MILES training gear and blank adapters, which preclude firing living bullets
  • The HMMWV is painted in woodland camouflage pattern and is unarmored
  • The soldiers are wearing the old Battle Dress Uniform, in the wrong pattern, rather than the current Army Combat Uniform
  • There are giant trees in the background, which is rather odd for a desert environment.

Presumably, they just used an old file photo to accompany a new story.  Still, one would think that someone at a major wire service would recognize such obvious errors six years into a war.

UPDATE: A commenter has, I think, solved the mystery:  The Babadag training facility is Tulcea, Romania.  Someone at AFP likely got it mixed up with Tusla, Iraq.

UPDATE:  Confirmed!  Here’s the photo with the correct caption:

US soldiers secure the area at a new installed check-point at Babadag training facility in the county of Tulcea, during a joint task force-east rotation 2008 training exercise, on July 14, 2008. Over 900 US military personnel participates at the training exercise meant to train US and Romanian soldiers in simulated combat situations as well as improving the mixt team working capabilities on the war fields like Iraq and Afganistan. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU

In the larger photo, the troops are indeed in ACUs, although still with the old woodland flak vests.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    Makes one wonder how many photos are just thrown in. Most of the stories are predetermine anyway. It reminds me of that sportswriter that pretended to have gone to games and wrote about the atmosphere of being there. Even if he had gone his stories would have been basically the same. To me having a predetermine story is more offensive than faking being there.

  2. markm says:

    Wayne, dunno if Mitch Albom is that writer but he’s one of them that has done that (caught hell for it too).

  3. Tlaloc says:

    Obvious problems with the photo:

    The troops are wearing MILES training gear and blank adapters, which preclude firing living bullets

    The HMMWV is painted in woodland camouflage pattern and is unarmored

    The soldiers are wearing the old Battle Dress Uniform, in the wrong pattern, rather than the current Army Combat Uniform

    Are you sure it’s wrong? After all you go to war “with the army you have…”

  4. Gus says:

    Where in the world is Tulcea, Iraq? The only Tulcea I can find is in Romania which is also the location of the Babadag Training Area.

    AFP screwed up big time.

  5. Wayne says:

    Only because he got caught. It doesn’t address the fact that many stories can be written without ever showing up. I suspect many stories by people who do show up wouldn’t change if they stayed home. Regardless of what they see on the ground they are going to write what they want.

    The MSM do butcher military vehicles and equipment identifications.

  6. Anderson says:

    The troops are wearing MILES training gear and blank adapters, which preclude firing living bullets

    Well, damn, no wonder we haven’t won the freakin’ war yet.