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Killing me softly

Yesterday, we had a bit of a discussion about the military's use of white phosphorus, and its possible use as a weapon, and whether or not it constitutes a "chemical" or "inhumane" weapon.

That reminded me of an exchange in one of my favorite novels -- David Gerrold's "A Matter For Men." One of the characters is helping the other put on a flamethrower.

"...Let me ask you this: what is it that makes a weapon inhumane?"

"Uh..." I thought about it.

"Let me make it easier for you. Tell me a humane weapon."

"Um-- I see your point."

"Right. There's no such thing. It's like Christmas -- it's not the gift, it's the thought that counts." He came around behind me and started fitting the pads under the straps. "A weapon, Jim -- never forget this; lift your arms -- is a tool for stopping the other fellow. That's the purpose -- stopping him. The so-called humane weapons merely stop a man without permanently injuring him. The best weapons -- you can put your arms down now -- are the ones that work by implication, by threat, and never have to be used at all. The enemy stops himself."

"It's when they don't stop" -- he turned me around to adjust the fittings in front -- "that the weapons become inhumane, because that's when you have to use them. And so far, the most effective ones are the ones that kill -- because they stop the guy permanently." He had to drop to his knees to cinch the waist strap. "Although... there's a lot to be said for maiming --"

"Huh?" I couldn't see his eyes, so I didn't know if he was joking or not.

"-- but that's asking too much of both the weapon and its user."

So, back to the white phosphorus and Fallujah.

Was it used there? Almost guaranteed.

Did it kill people? Entirely possible.

Was it used as a direct weapon? Highly unlikely.

Was it a violation of existing laws and treaties? Highly doubtful.

Let's take a closer look at those last two questions. White phosphorus, in its current forms and uses, does two things extremely well. It generates smoke, and it gives off tremendous amounts of light. But when used as a weapon directly, those two traits make it extremely undesirable.

When you shoot at something, one key element is seeing just what effect the fire had on the target so you can judge if you need to keep shooting. If you shoot off WP, there's going to be a tremendous amount of light, heat, and smoke coming out of it -- which will screw up visual light, infrared, and night-vision gear and keep you from being able to see just how badly injured or damaged (if at all) your target has been. When used as a flare, WP is fired into the air above the target, not at the target itself. To shoot directly at someone or something with it is pretty damned stupid, and our service members just can not be that stupid. It's like using a brick as a flyswatter -- it just might work, if you're damned lucky, but it's far more work than using the right tool, and it'll most likely cause more problems than it fixes.

Finally, WP is NOT illegal, and NOT a chemical weapon. It does its damage through combustion, not some other effect, so it's lumped in with gunpowder and explosives. The laws of warfare are quite clear, and WP does NOT fit the bill.

But the point remains: yeah, some weapons are inhumane. Hell, nearly all of them are. But war isn't a humane process, and the common term for those who try to act as humanely as they can while fighting is "the defeated."


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Comments (52)

I recall during Gulf War I ... (Below threshold)
Kitty Crouch:

I recall during Gulf War I that reporters were hectoring General Schwartskopf because Iraqi troops were being killed by bulldozers and it was cruel and inhumane. At the time I wondered what sort of killing would be acceptable in their eyes.
Thanks for really nailing the question in fine Wizbang fashion.

I disagree. Willy Pete is ... (Below threshold)
Dan in Michigan:

I disagree. Willy Pete is a terrifying weapon that will deter even the most committed jihadi. Throwing in a few rounds of this compound will send the signal that we mean business and we ARE going to kill you. It sets the tone of the battle to come. Semper Fi

That's easy - (channelling ... (Below threshold)
ICallMasICM:

That's easy - (channelling troll)

A humane weapon is whatever terrorist murderers use to kill innocent civilians and an inhumane weapon is whatever we use to fight terrorists.

It gets worse. There is ta... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

It gets worse. There is talk that they are planning to equip every soldier with the most inhumane weapon I've heard of lately. It is quite simple, but terribly effective and brutal. It consists of a tube. Inside the tube is an explosive charge that when ignited sends a metal projectile toward the intended victim. The projectile hits with such force it injures, maims, and may even kill. The first version of the device sent out only one projectile, but it has been modified to send out multiple projectiles. Why isn't anyone looking into the use of these weapons?

Hmmm.Actually WP m... (Below threshold)
ed:

Hmmm.

Actually WP mortar and artillery rounds are fairly common in all armies. Both for creating smoke and for injuring enemies.

And have been in use since before WWII.

White Phosphorous is an eff... (Below threshold)
Matt:

White Phosphorous is an effective and scary anti-personnel weapon. The large amounts of light and smoke are by-products of incredibly large amounts heat generated by the burning WP. When burning WP is very difficult to extinguish and does quite a number on exposed skin. Might not burn all the way through a limb, or torso, but it will try it's very best. WP works very well against bunkered enemies when firing a round into the structure is more efficient (read less loss of freindly life) than storming it by hand. It is also effective agains grouped opponents in the open when you don't want to risk collateral damage from excessive shrapnel etc. It will break up a formation of enemies very quickly. WP is also used to create a wall between you and the enemy when you need to reposition rapidly.

You do realize, of course, ... (Below threshold)

You do realize, of course, that the phrase "chemical weapon" is a bit of a misnomer. Gunpowder it technically a mixture of chemicals and elements that produces light and heat when exposed to a spark or fire. WP is an element that will undergo a chemical reaction when contacted with air - it bursts into flame.

Amazing how we categorize chemicals into acceptable and unacceptable when they all can kill. I suppose the defining characteristic is how painfully a compound destroys somebody.

You missed the point. It wa... (Below threshold)

You missed the point. It was used in a civilian setting. Sounds like your gonna support your president even if he calls off the election and names himself President of the United Dictatorship of the Americas.

A 2x4 is full of chemicals ... (Below threshold)
89:

A 2x4 is full of chemicals too, but it's not a chemical weapon.

Civilian setting?, Randy? You mean like teargas, which IS a chemical agent but is not banned for crowd control?

This reminds me of that Depleted Uranium nonsense some years back. "Oooh, it's mildly radioactive and called 'Uranium', so it's a covert nuclear war!" ...

Saw the supposed pictures. ... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

Saw the supposed pictures. Victims had burned skin or what appeared to be carmelized skin YET their clothes are intact.

Sorry, if you are hit with WP it's going to burn the clothes, skin, bone etc. What I saw in the pictures being passed as proof is what dead bodies look like when exposed to the elements for a couple of weeks after death.

Willing to bet a true investigation into the deaths would revel the civilians were most likely executed by the terrorists and their bodies left behind to foist Yet Another Great Big Lefty Lie about the war.

Unless, of course, they are going to claim WP causes Spontaneous Human Combustion...

White Phosphorous grenades<... (Below threshold)
Shaw:

White Phosphorous grenades
"White phosphorus (also used in smoke grenades) … has a potent incendiary effect, burning at a temperature of 2800°C (5000°F)."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_grenade

I have a family member who had a white phosphorus grenade thrown in his fox hole in Vietnam. He pick it up to throw it back, but didn't get it away quickly enough. He had third degree burns over one side of his body and forth degree burns on his arm - a forth degree burn is one that goes all they way to the bone. His buddies had to put the fire out with dirt – water doesn’t work with White Phosphorous. He still can't spend too much time out on hot days - he doesn't have enough sweat glands and pores to cool his body.

“Use of white phosphorus is not specifically banned by any treaty, however the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (Protocol III) prohibits the use of incendiary weapons against civilian populations or by air attack against military forces that are located within concentrations of civilians. [2] The United States is among the nations that have not signed this protocol.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus_incendiar

I left a chemical weapon in... (Below threshold)
LJD:

I left a chemical weapon in my toilet this morning.... it was most unpleasant.
I'm only sorry I didn't get to share it with Randy.

There is no such thing as f... (Below threshold)
Ikkonoishi:

There is no such thing as fourth degree burns.
Third degree is the worse type.

> To shoot directly at some... (Below threshold)
peterpoe:

> To shoot directly at someone or something with it
> is pretty damned stupid, and our service members
> just can not be that stupid.

Just watch the video.

The helicopter is firing grapples of white stuff on the houses.

As an AA would say, you are in Denial.

lkkonoishilink <a ... (Below threshold)

lkkonoishi

link here

Yes there is.

At least have the decency to google a bit before you call someone a liar.

Asshole.

peterpoe, I watched the vid... (Below threshold)

peterpoe, I watched the video.

Where did you see those houses again?

And have you actually ever seen a burned body? Eyebrows and clothing aren't usually present.

I think I've seen the best ... (Below threshold)
RightWingLiberal:

I think I've seen the best spinsters ever this year.

That kool aid must be damn good.

I think my favorite is "gunpowder is a chemical weapon"
Did you borrow that from Saddam's Minister of Truth?

Reasons to liberate Iraq.
1. Chemical and Biological weapons
2. Saddam's human rights abuses like torture chambers

Two things that we do ourselves.

I suppose it is somewhat admirable that Republicans will defend their own to such an extent. But is there a limit?

My wife served in Viet Nam... (Below threshold)
Drew Edmondson:

My wife served in Viet Nam as an Army Nurse...she treated OUR guys and old men and women and children whose skin was peeled by napalm. Women and children in Iraq burned by our troops? I pray it isn't so. If it is..at what point do we say ENOUGH? I will wait for more proof but as this government lies about almost everything it will have to be from other sources. I am assuming those posting like this is funny to not condone the burning of children. Posters who talk crap like "we mean business and WE are going to kill you" believes this includes children, you are obviously a sick person with no children.

As long as dishonest and/or... (Below threshold)

As long as dishonest and/or delusional political sell-outs continue to generate and propagate half-truths and outright lies, those who value truth and honesty will continue to refute them.

P.S. Bo ... have you ever s... (Below threshold)
Drew Edmondson:

P.S. Bo ... have you ever seen chemical burns? (for you to use the name of the source of American Rock-n-Roll is a sign of disrespect to this person)grow up and post your real name as I do.. Drew Edmondson (my real name and proud of it)

I stand corrected (which I ... (Below threshold)
Drew Edmondson:

I stand corrected (which I am willing to do)after furthur checking phos it appears would burn clothing so I do have more doubts..however my previous comments other than that still stand...children in this town were killed and the name Bo D. should not be used..

<a href="http://usinfo.stat... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

U.S. State Department sez:

Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.

From Field Artillery magazine, March/April '05:

"The munitions we brought to this fight were . . . illumination and white phosphorous (WP, M110 and M825), with point-detonating (PD), delay, time and variable-time (VT) fuzes...

"WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

Oops forgot <a href="http:/... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

Oops forgot the link to the magazine (pdf).

Yes, there it says that WP ... (Below threshold)

Yes, there it says that WP was used:

A. As a psychological weapon
B. To flush insurgents out so that they could be killed with HE

WP would burn clothing, also. What we have here is a mounting propaganda lie with no relation to reality.

Propaganda, indeed. Noooo. ... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

Propaganda, indeed. Noooo. We don't shoot no WP at people. From Fallujah, the First Battle:

Here's a scene from the first battle for Fallujah.

Bogert is a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused.

"We had all this SASO (security and stabilization operations) training back home," he said. "And then this turns into a real goddamned war."

Just as his team started to eat a breakfast of packaged rations Saturday, Bogert got a fire mission over the radio.

"Stand by!" he yelled, sending Lance Cpls. Jonathan Alexander and Jonathan Millikin scrambling to their feet.

Joking and rousting each other like boys just seconds before, the men were instantly all business. With fellow Marines between them and their targets, a lot was at stake.

Bogert received coordinates of the target, plotted them on a map and called out the settings for the gun they call "Sarah Lee."

Millikin, 21, from Reno, Nev., and Alexander, 23, from Wetumpka, Ala., quickly made the adjustments. They are good at what they do.

"Gun up!" Millikin yelled when they finished a few seconds later, grabbing a white phosphorus round from a nearby ammo can and holding it over the tube.

"Fire!" Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it.

The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.

They say they have never seen what they've hit, nor did they talk about it as they dusted off their breakfast and continued their hilarious routine of personal insults and name-calling.

Andy,Mortars are i... (Below threshold)
Mark FLacy:

Andy,

Mortars are indirect fire weapons. Indirect fire weapons almost *never* have line-of-sight to what they are firing at.

There would be a forward observer that could see the target and indeed would have called in the fire mission.

That's a nice try, though, to get people to believe that soldiers are just randomly firing stuff into places.

Andy,Get one of th... (Below threshold)

Andy,

Get one of those soldiers to tell exactly what they did themselves. Quotes. Then let's see how much farther this little tale can fall apart.

First they use pictures of fried bodies with clothes on as "proof". When they are told that WP burns clothes... well... um... Damn.

Now we're letting journalists talk on the behalf of soldiers. Gee, I never heard of a journalist taking liberties with the testimony of soldiers before... Never...

If anyone is still reading:... (Below threshold)
Old Soldier:

If anyone is still reading:

Doctrinally WP is used: as smoke, to destroy petroleum and ammo storage areas, and to destroy equipment (equipment that is not armored or very lightly armored – it is not effective against tanks). Doctrinally, WP is not employed against personnel. WP artillery and mortar rounds are not an effective luminary because they explode and burn too fast. WP may be the agent used in flare rounds, but in that use the canister is suspended from a parachute to prolong the illumination time.

WP is not a direct fire round. Mortars and artillery are indirect fire weapons – they are not fired directly at the intended target (line of sight, like a tank shooting another tank). Although some WP rounds are usable in tanks, they are still used in an indirect application. WP is just not destructive enough to be effective in a direct fire roll. Most tankers would not waste the magazine space by carrying WP rounds.

In an infantry support roll, WP would most likely be used to provide momentary obscuration to cover maneuvering troops. The WP smoke cloud dissipates rather rapidly, allowing the troops to re-engage the enemy positions in relatively short order. WP is not a good choice for urban use in that WP does not burn through concrete and mortar very well. Yes WP will nastily burn a person, but it is rarely fatal, so it is not a good choice to be used against personnel – not like a daisy cutter that will take out darn near a battalion of soldiers in the open. HE and penetrating rounds would be more suitable for use against enemies inside buildings. Actually tanks would be the weapon of choice, but if you aren’t supported by tanks, you depend on what you have.

That is the doctrinal aspect of WP.

WP does have a significant psychological effect. It generates a huge flash of light followed by miniature stars trailing billowing white smoke. There is the aspect of burns if it hits someone, but again that’s not terribly effective. The smoke masking the enemy’s ability to see is probably the single greatest benefit. In combination with HE rounds in rapid succession it probably would make the enemy think that hell has just come to the surface.

What WP is not. It is not a chemical weapon; it does not attack the respiratory, circulatory or nervous systems in the body nor cause organs to shut down. It is not a direct fire round; although if it was the last round left in a tank, it would probably be used as such. It is not designed to be employed as an antipersonnel round. It simply isn’t that effective.

Hope this helps clear up some mysteries of WP. Again, in the middle of a battle you use what you brought to the best of your ability. The objective being to make the other guy die for his cause.

Drew, you astonishingly den... (Below threshold)

Drew, you astonishingly dense little imbecil.

First, you blurt out something about chemical burns in less than half the time it would have taken for you to have educated yourself thoroughly upon the properties of burning white phosphorus.

Then you jump on me about my choice of monikers, insisting that it's disrespectful to Bo Diddley somehow to use a phonetic respelling as an online pseudonym.

You have no idea that my entire life has been spent within about a 45 minute drive of his hometown. You have no clue how much his music influenced my own musicianship, nor how elated I was to sit in on a jam session in a little Delta juke joint with Bo Diddley himself.

You weren't aware of the hours I spent listening to and talking with Willie Foster and George Lee. You haven't played on stage at the Dockery Plantation or the Subway Club, and you probably couldn't find "where the Southern cross the Dog" if your life depended upon it.

In short, you don't know me, yet you judge me based upon your own prejudices. If anything is disrespectful to Bo Diddley, it's a self-righteous, delusional fuckstain like you thinking you're somehow defending his honor by attacking someone who has more respect and more ties to his music than you can ever hope to acquire.

(my humble apologies to the regulars here--you guys know this is far beyond my normal tone, and I normally try not to venture this far off-topic, but this shithead touched a nerve)

Now, bo diddley didn’t stan... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Now, bo diddley didn’t stand no mess,
He wore a gun on his hip and a rose on his chest,

Bo diddley’s a gunslinger,
Bo diddley’s a gunslinger,
Yeh, ah-ha (he must be!),
Yeh, ah-ha (sure ’nuff!),

Rock on Dude^^

Get one of those s... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:
Get one of those soldiers to tell exactly what they did themselves. Quotes. Then let's see how much farther this little tale can fall apart.

Did you even bother to follow the Field Artillery link, Seixon? It's an after-action review. It doesn't get much more direct than that.

That's a nice try, though, to get people to believe that soldiers are just randomly firing stuff into places.

Of course they weren't. The reporter was simply trying to convey that the soldiers didn't see the shells' impact, not that they were firing at random.

The point of the "shake and bake" strategy is to hit people. It says it right in the excerpt I provided: "sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week."

The defense and state departments are trying to claim that WP was not being used directly as an anti-personnel weapon. Obviously, that's not true.

Old Soldier,Excell... (Below threshold)

Old Soldier,

Excellent summary. Thanks for taking the time to explain this.

My great uncle was a white phosphorus mortar man in WWII. He helped lead the way onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He told me many stories of launching those shells, from the initial assault (they were apparently the weapon of choice against pill boxes), on to the march from France in to Germany.

Yes, the word “Chemical” appeared in the early description of my uncle’s battalion. Maybe that’s where some of the confusion comes from. But from day one, the use of white phosphorous has always been considered acceptable under the modern rules of warfare.

But most of the tactics used by the "insurgents" in Iraq (and especially in Falujah) were outlawed many years earlier. We don't seem to hear much about that for some reason.

"The defense and state depa... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

"The defense and state departments are trying to claim that WP was not being used directly as an anti-personnel weapon. Obviously, that's not true."

The link you use to 'prove" your point is military, and I have seen exactly one instance of the State Department saying we used them for illumination only. Now if you put your throbbing little pecker back in your pants, have a nice cold Cream Soda, and think about it, isn't it most likely the guy at the State Department just made a mistake? Maybe you have never in your whole life said something you thought was true, that turned out to be wrong, but most adults have at least once or twice. If you really want to help the terrorists, go over there and get fitted for a vest, but I am getting pretty sick of you little peckerheads digging up these bullshit accusations to try to smear the fuckers who are dieing for your ass.

How many civilians would have died if they had bombed that fucking shit-hole into cinders? Bombs are still quite legal you know, and we would have lost a lot less Marines. Use your head.

Don't worry about Andy, he ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Don't worry about Andy, he just learned the difference between a helicopter and a howitzer only yesterday.

http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/wordpress/wp-content/themes/otb/wp-comments-popup.php?p=12607&c=1

I do wonder about his motivation though...

"The defense and state depa... (Below threshold)
Old Soldier:

"The defense and state departments are trying to claim that WP was not being used directly as an anti-personnel weapon. Obviously, that's not true."

The statement is true. The falsehood comes in by trying to construe that WP was being used for illumination. WP artillery and mortar rounds are not good luminaries. They produce a flash, not extended illumination like a flare. (I cannot remember the composition of flares, but I believe the material used in artillery flares is white phosphorus.) Doctrinally, WP in close combat (fired from mortars) would most likely be employed as a tactical obscurant.

WP rounds are NOT effective against personnel. The explosive blast is only intended to disburse the WP to form the cloud and send out the smaller ignited masses of WP. Because of the incendiary properties, WP is a great weapon when used on POL and ammo dumps. It will burn through metal, so it is pretty good against trucks and other non-armored equipment. However, WP is just not a good choice against troops or concrete and mortar buildings.

I guess a good illustration of the ineffectiveness of WP vs. HE employed against troops would be like an infantry platoon armed only with 9mm pistols engaging enemy troops at 200 yards. Some rounds would probably find soft spots and hurt some of the enemy, but it would be mostly ineffective. On the other hand that same infantry platoon armed with just one .30 caliber machine gun would decimate enemy troops at 200 yards. WP = 9mm; HE = machine gun.

WP continues to be an effective weapon within our arsenal. Doctrinally and practically it is not a good choice against personnel based upon its lack of destructive power. Now, in a psychological roll when mixed with HE, WP may be quite effective. I don’t know, because I’ve never seen it used that way. I can understand a tactic of throwing in WP to give the enemy the impression that a chemical weapon has just exploded. Without chemical protection the only recourse would be to run. When the enemy runs into the open, the HE finishes the job. Nice tactic. But again, WP is not employed specifically as anti-personnel – because it is ineffective in that roll.

In the late 60's we used to have WP hand grenades. I don't believe they are in the inventory any more - not sure. The employment of WP hand grenades was to mark a target for artillery spotters to bring in artillery fire or to mark a target for the Air Force to bomb in close support. We never carried WP grenades for use against enemy troops - because it wasn't effective.

Our battle tactics are designed to win the engagement. We will employ the most effective means possible to destroy our enemy (within the confines of our treaties and accords). Obviously real chemical or nuclear weapons would do the job without even risking our brave soldiers lives, but they are not within the confines of our treaties and accords. (It is our doctrine to respond in kind if necessary.)

Thanks for the rational exp... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

Thanks for the rational explication, Old Soldier. If only the defense department would acknowledge the obvious and lay things out in such a straightforward matter, instead of being a clumsy bullshitter aplogist like LJD.

Sorry- I get a little upset... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Sorry- I get a little upset when some one readily accepts clearly anti-US propaganda without giving our boots on the ground the benefit of the doubt. (Note: Defense here clearly given to my fellow service people, not any particular political party, representative, or movement.)

Please reference my quotes where I was ever bullshitting, or apologizing for anything.

So NOW, you no longer claim that U.S. helicopters went around burning civilians, just that you don't like how the DOD conveys information? You seemed fairly eager to substantiate the claims before, why the change of heart?

Also, do you care to elaborate on your motivation for pushing the obviously false Fallujah chemical weapons claim, and/or answer any of my previous questions about the authentication of the "proof" you referenced?

Just what exactly is your deal?

I wasn't pushing anything, ... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

I wasn't pushing anything, you twit. I was asking for an explanation of what was going on in the part of the video showing the phosphorous raining down on the city. And I never said anything about "chemical weapons."

You could have offered a reasoned response, as Old Soldier has, about proportionality and what WP can and cannot do. Yet your only response was to dribble on and on about "left-wing punks" and raving about civilians getting what they deserve because they were warned and given "every opportunity" to evacuate.

It's no secret that reasonable explanations are more effective at convincing people than the incoherent blather you offer.

From YOUR posts it appears ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

From YOUR posts it appears you tried pretty hard to support the story that the U.S. deliberately used chemical weapons on civilians. Fortunately, you have no clue of what you are speaking about.

"...the most disturbing part to me was U.S. helicopters raining large amounts of WP in a wide dispersal pattern over the city"

"All “battle-age” males were prohibited from leaving..."

"...whether WP was sprayed indiscriminately over the city (which, as the article you link to shows, the military knew still contained thousands of civilians). The video makes it look like it was."

"Propaganda, indeed. Noooo. We don't shoot no WP at people." (sarcastically)

All I have asked is that you don't so readily jump to such conclusions. First, and always, give the benefit of the doubt to our troops. They are well trained and 99.99% of them are doing their duty in an impeccable fashion. Second, consider the source of your information.

This old news story is clearly propaganda. Just because the journalist said something was happening, didn't make it so.

Of course they wer... (Below threshold)
Mark A. Flacy:
Of course they weren't. The reporter was simply trying to convey that the soldiers didn't see the shells' impact, not that they were firing at random.

Bullshit. The generic statement "mortars and other artillery rarely, if ever, see their rounds land" clearly would have covered that point. The incessant harping on it in the quoted article would lead one to believe that this is somehow unusual.

Good job Andy, anybody too ... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Good job Andy, anybody too stupid to know how to scroll will think you might be an honest, reasonable man.

All battle-age males wer... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

All battle-age males were prohibited from leaving. The military did know cilvilians remained in the city - as many as 50,000. WP was used as a weapon and not "very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes" as officially claimed. It is therefore probable that civilians were killed by WP. Those facts are not in dispute. Just because the government says something doesn't make it so. Once again you try to distract from the issue at hand.

This was my original question: "I’d like to know what purposes that would serve other than anti-personnel (it’s obvious from the video that the intent was not illumination)." Obviously, I'm not claiming to be a military expert - I was ASKING for explanations.

You never even attempted to address that issue. You made the bullshit claim that civilians were given "every opportunity to leave" and a red herring about "left-wing conspiracy theories."

I noted that the video was full of dubious claims from avowed communist Giuliana Sgrena and a bunch of ugly pictures of dead bodies, and that my question related to video of the "helicopter." You rightly pointed out that it probably was an airburst, which led me to so a search about WP and artillery, which established the fact that WP was used as part of the "shake and bake" tactic.

Although he doesn't address the video (which he wasn't asked to) Old Soldier provided exactly what I was asking for: a reasonable explanation. It's that simple. He didn't attempt to distract from the issue with namecalling and ranting about conspiracies. I'm now satisfied that WP wasn't used wantonly and recklessly.

Don't talk to me about jumping to conclusions. I clearly stated that I was concerned by what I saw in the video, and wanted more information. YOU jumped to the conclusion that I'm out to push conspiracy theories and decided to respond with a bunch of hot air.

And thanks for your ... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

And thanks for your input on your homoerotic fantasies, "B Moe," but I hardly see how it's relevant to this discussion.

At 10:58 Andy said:<p... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

At 10:58 Andy said:

"I wasn't pushing anything, you twit. I was asking for an explanation of what was going on in the part of the video showing the phosphorous raining down on the city."

Let me explain something to you, in the English language when asking a question it is customary to end the query with a "?", known as a "question mark". None of your posts contain this paricular punctuation mark. Also if you are attempting to ask a question about a video, you should use the word "video" or a common synonym in the query. The word "video" or any common synonyms don't appear in any of your previous comments. This leads me to believe you are either functionally illiterate, stupid, or a liar.

This isn't Kos where there are so many posts that nobody is paying attention to what anyone else is saying.


the biggest difference betw... (Below threshold)
sean nyc:

the biggest difference between chemical and conventional weapons: impact. if a weapon damages it target by a physical impact, ie explosion, bullet, or 2X4, it is a conventional weapon. if a weapon damages its target by chemical reaction, ie wp, napalm, and flame thrower, they are chemical weapons. biological weapons by a germ, bacteria, or virus; and nuclear by nuclear reaction. so if you want to clarify, start calling conventional weapons impact weapons and none of this bickering is necessary.

Well, "B Moe," apparently y... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:

Well, "B Moe," apparently you've been thinking so much about penises that you haven't been paying attention. LJD was referring to a thread on another blog.

Well I was talking about th... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Well I was talking about this thread, and your bullshit allegations of misconduct, cover-ups and lies by the military and state department which suddenly became innocent questions about a video when you were called on it. I have no idea where this homoerotic phallic fantasy came from, so I will just leave you to babble to yourself now.
Cheers.

Now if you put you... (Below threshold)
Andy Vance:
Now if you put your throbbing little pecker back in your pants, have a nice cold Cream Soda, and think about it, isn't it most likely the guy at the State Department just made a mistake?
Posted by: B Moe at November 9, 2005 10:47 PM

There's yer homoerotic phallic fantasy, bub. Remember, "This isn't Kos where there are so many posts that nobody is paying attention to what anyone else is saying."

Sean, I'm sorry, but you ar... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Sean, I'm sorry, but you are completely wrong about that. The definition of a chemical weapon specifically EXCLUDES the chemicl reaction of combustion, so napalm and the like do NOT constitute "chemical weapons."

I'm working on a piece that covers this -- it ought to be up in a day or two.

And Old Soldier -- you are rapidly becoming one of the best resources we have around here. You have my greatest thanks.

J.

Ahh, I see the confusion no... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

Ahh, I see the confusion now. See I fantasize about raging hard-ons, I only joke about throbbing little peckers. And you are still ducking the issue, isn't it more likely the source you quote at the State Department made an honest mistake, since the Military didn't seem to consider it a big secret?

I don't know the originatio... (Below threshold)
Old Soldier:

I don't know the origination of the video that Peter Poe posted (post # 14) but that is one hodgepodge of various clips. I have serious doubts about the authenticity of the person being question. He referred to “Whisky Pete”. That’s a combination of two different military terms; “Willy Pete” and Whisky Papa”. The first is the carryover WWII era term for White Phosphorus and the one most commonly used today. The second is the current military phonetic alphabet. Combining “Whisky” and “Pete” is a mixing of phonetic terms that would not be indicative of someone practiced in the craft.

If I’m not mistaken, it was the Marines that assaulted Fallujah. It is EXTREMELY RARE for a Semper Fi Marine to turn against the Corps. I just find that to be very uncharacteristic for a Marine.

Too, the interviewee made reference to having speakers in the vehicle. I assume he was referring to a HUMMV. I won’t outright dispute this claim, but it is very unlikely that all HUMMV’s have been uploaded with radios and speakers. A communications vehicle would have several tactical radios, but the speakers are in the radio or the handset (to reduce noise when silence is required). A communications vehicle would not be in the front of an assault; it would be in the rear. I don’t know if that is significant or not. Lastly, the assault was done on foot. HUMMV’s are just too large a target and do not have enough armor to be effective on the assault in an urban environment. They would certainly come up from the rear to resupply the assaulting Marines, but would in all likelihood not be up front on the assault.

I failed to see any helicopter in the film. What I saw was footage of air burst artillery rounds; possibly WP but I’m not sure. We have only the commentator’s word that the target was Fallujah during our last assault. For all anyone could know, it could have been Iraqi artillery under Saddam Hussein attacking the Kurds. It would certainly not follow US tactics to pump air burst artillery fired WP into an urban area under assault by our own troops. The area of impact would be too unpredictable for a close support roll. (Close support is expending munitions very close to troops; usually done by artillery or aircraft.)

The bodies shown were not the results of WP. In fact they were so far off as to actually be comical. The best way to describe a WP wound is to liken the result to having a sphere of molten steel about a half to one inch in diameter land on your arm (or leg or torso, etc.). The burn is very localized and would go through the clothing as well. It would not / could not affect the entire body as portrayed in the film.

The video clip seems to be aimed at one thing; to reinforce some false accusations. I would place zero value in the video.

I’d also like to set the record straight about what constitutes a chemical weapon. A chemical weapon dispenses a chemical agent in liquid or vapor form that attacks either the nervous, circulatory, or respiratory systems, or epidural (sever skin blistering). They are classified as persistent or nonpersistent agents; they either last a long time or disperse relatively quickly. Biological and nuclear weapons should not require an explanation.

OSSpeakers are not t... (Below threshold)
LJD:

OS
Speakers are not typical in Army Humveees, however I have seen them used in Commander's vehicles, or that of a resourceful NCO.

I'll add to your post that the Artillery AAR noted troops to be danger close. Not in this one instance, but as a rule for the whole engagement. To use lay terms, that means that the artillery men KNEW they had to be extra careful with the accuracy of their weapons because of the proximity of U.S. troops.

This entire thing stinks. Actually it would be laughable if there weren't uneducated morons in this country who, for some reason, want so badly to belive this knid of crap.




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