War on video: Combat footage, vernacular video analysis and military culture from within
In this article we present an ethnomethodological study of a controversial case of ‘friendly fire’ from the Iraq War in which leaked video footage, war on video, acquired particular significance. We examine testimony given during a United States Air Force (USAF) investigation of the incident alongside transcribed excerpts from the video to make visible the methods employed by the investigators to assess the propriety of the actions of the pilots involved. With a focus on the way in which the USAF investigators pursued their own analysis of language-in-use in their discussions with the pilots about what had been captured on the video, we turn attention to the background expectancies that analytical work was grounded in. These ‘vernacular’ forms of video analysis and the expectancies which inform them constitute, we suggest, an inquiry into military culture from within that culture. As such, attending to them provides insights into that culture.