The image below is a cropped still from a video posted on January 2, 2008 on YouTube.
The man who shot the video - marine chief "FordGuyInNY" (FG) - posted the document along with the following information: "My soldiers and I witnessed what I think is some sort of natural phenomenon in the sky over Iraq".
In the audio of the video one can hear FG and his fellow marines commenting on what these "big vertical streaks over the mainland" could possibly be.
The video, taken with the help of a night vision device, sparked some discussion on the forum of www.abovetopsecret.com, a popular web site that deals with what the webmaster himself calls "Conspiracy Theory, UFO and Alternative Topics". Hoping to find out more about the lights he had videotaped, FG complied with a request of one of the forum members to join the debate and answer some of the questions that had been raised.
Below is FG's sober and informative reply, posted on the Above Top Secret web site on January 7, 2008.
I am the Soldier that recorded the video, and I have been invited here by one of the persons who posted in the thread.
I've read through the thread and I'll try to answer some questions. I have limited time, as everyone here in Iraq is allotted a certain amount of time to use the MWR computers for entertainment.
The phenomena could be seen with the naked eye, but just barely. it appeared as a faint red spot with a dark red haze around it. It was somewhere between 45-60 degrees above the horizon, so the color was puzzling to me.
The lights on the ground are purely coincidental. Because of the limitations of a night vision device, you can't tell that the object in question and the ground light source are actually at much different ranges. They only appear to be at the same spot in the video, and about 80 - 90 percent of the rest of the lights (there were about 30 in all) had no corresponding ground light at any range.
For those of you who thought we weren't doing our job and not reporting it: don't pretend to know everything about what we did from a 2 minute clip. I assure you we took all precautions that we are trained to do. Also, don't presume that those few Soldiers speaking were the only ones present.
I have seen all types of aircraft, aircraft exhaust, flares, missiles, and all types of things of that sort in my military career, in the day and the night. The objects in question do not fit my pattern of experiences when it comes to military equipment.
Most of us who witnessed it (if not all) do not believe it is an aircraft-manmade or otherwise-because we have seen many strange things with simple explanations before.
It does get cold here in Iraq, especially in the north. However, I couldn't see any kind of icy haze through my night vision.
The camera and the NV were separate devices. The camera couldn't see in the night without it, even though the object was visible to the naked eye.
I assure you the video is not a hoax, and all my devices and optics were in perfect working order. My skills as a cameraman may be suspect, however.
I did take much more video, but this is the only segment that doesn't compromise our identities, our unit, or our mission.
If there are any other questions, feel free to ask.
For reasons pointed out in the one but last paragraph of FG's reply, the exact location is not revealed. However, more info was found on ufo-blog.com, where it is mentioned that another YouTube user - a certain "Brintonsdad" (BD) - had also uploaded the video, but three days later. According to BD, the video was sent to him by "a nephew who is a squad leader serving in Iraq". He believes the footage was most likely captured in the Eastern part of the country. BD further informs us that the incident had occurred on the night of January 2.