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Al Qaeda attack on US warships -- update

Over at Strategy Page, they have an in-depth article on the attack on two US warships while anchored in Jordan. And they give a detailed answer to my question about just what kind of a weapon was used.

The 150 pound, 122mm Russian designed BM-21 rocket is nine feet long and has a range of 20 kilometers and a 45 pound warhead. Developed in the late 1930s by Russia, the 122mm rocket is normally fired in large numbers from many launchers at spread-out targets. That's because the rockets are unguided. Aim lots of them at a target and you'll hit something. Aim a few of them at something, and you usually won't, But the rockets are made by many countries, relatively easy to get, and favored by terrorists for attacks that terrorize, rather than actually do any damage.

Now, 45 pounds of high explosive is a bit more than I was figuring when I wrote my piece yesterday, but it changes only a little. A hit would have damaged any exposed systems and killed or injured on-deck personnel, but unless it was very, very lucky it would not have penetrated the hull or deck of the Ashland. Even ships technically "unarmored" have steel hulls, steel or steel-reinforced decks, and steel or aluminum superstructure, and they would most likely have detonated the rocket before it could gotten to the ship's interior.

The BM-21 rocket is designed to be fired in large numbers in the general direction of the target, in hopes that a couple might come close enough to have an effect. And those targets are "soft" targets -- usually infantry and very light vehicles. They were never intended to be used against warships.

Yes, they persuaded the Navy to pull the Ashland and Kearsarge out of port quickly, and ahead of schedule. But what did they achieve beyond minorly inconveniencing the crews of two ships? Absolutely nothing. And what did it cost them? At least six terrorists and four more BM-21 rockets, along with a great deal of displeasure from the Jordanian authorities and people.

Yup, they've certainly achieved a great deal with this attack.

Comments (20)

Eventhough this attack fail... (Below threshold)

Eventhough this attack failed and somewhat backfired, I hate the fact we pulled anchor and ran. grumble grumble.

I hear ya, jpm, but let's f... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I hear ya, jpm, but let's face it: warships are made to fight, and to fight they need to be at sea. Sitting at anchor is a very, very bad position to fight from.

Further, these are warships, but not truly combatants. They're intended to have other ships around to do the fighting for them.

But it does burn me a smidgen, too.


This attack probably cost t... (Below threshold)

This attack probably cost them a few hundred dollars. They made a mistake in aiming at warships. Otherwise, they did virtually everything right. They got the weapons in to position, and managed to launch them without being killed or captured. It costs them next to nothing, and the worst that happens is a Jordanian squaddie gets killed, an Israeli taxi is totalled and two U.S. warships depart ahead of schedule. The best/i> that happens (in A-Q's POV) is two missiles detonate on the deck of a U.S. warship, killing and wounding naval personnel, and the rocket that hit Eilat clips the wing of an airliner taking off or landing.

A cheap, risk-free, win-win attack. And one that, with practice, might become more lethal.

I am, however, glad that this is how they chose to use 150 pounds of explosives...

Ah - seven rockets. Make th... (Below threshold)

Ah - seven rockets. Make that ~350 pounds.

Colt, but people were arres... (Below threshold)

Colt, but people were arrested for this. Additional material was also captured. So you can't say they got away with it just yet.

Its risk vs. reward. They <... (Below threshold)

Its risk vs. reward. They might kill U.S. navy personnel and bring down an airliner in Israel. They might not. But for a half-dozen low-level jihadis, a few hundred dollars, and seven obsolete rockets, why not try?

"Eventhough this attack fai... (Below threshold)
judgement day cometh:

"Eventhough this attack failed and somewhat backfired, I hate the fact we pulled anchor and ran. grumble grumble."

Mr jpm100, How quaint of you to show us just what a tough guy you actually are. Now maybe you should enlist and show the rest of the armed services just how things are to be done. I'm sure they would love to hear it from you.

Yessery, they would be just waiting with baited breath.

BTW, try not to get too worked up, you just might chip a fingernail on that keyboard of your's.

Lookie lookie, here comes J... (Below threshold)

Lookie lookie, here comes Judgement making a chickenhawk argument again. I suppose if everything is bad as he makes it, why hasn't he left for Canada with all those people that said they would if Bush won the election? Oh well.

Do Not Feed The Trolls.

Ahhhhhhhh, there's nothing ... (Below threshold)

Ahhhhhhhh, there's nothing like terrorists making fools of themselves to brighten up my day!! :-)

"why hasn't he left for Can... (Below threshold)
judgement day cometh:

"why hasn't he left for Canada"

I'm an American!

Using the canard of "leaving for Canada" not only shows more of your wretched political underbelly it also shows you have nothing intelligent to defend with.

judgement day,By y... (Below threshold)

judgement day,

By your reasoning you're not qualified to comment on the issue either. You're also not qualified to comment on the war in Iraq or the war on terror as well.

In fact, the only qualification you seem to have is to spam Leftie talking points. Oh well.

judgement day, you're becom... (Below threshold)

judgement day, you're becoming rather obsessive with your much debunked, and frankly, childish chickenhawk taunt. Is there more, or is that the extent off your rhetorical skills?


Actually, obsessive may not... (Below threshold)

Actually, obsessive may not be the word as you have posted virtually the same thing on every whizbang post today. Compulsive may be a better term.


"It's troll wackin' time"

I'm beginning to regard JDC... (Below threshold)

I'm beginning to regard JDC's comments as spam. It's the same thing over and over. It's certainly annoying like spam.

One of the US Navy's missio... (Below threshold)
j. blair:

One of the US Navy's missions is power projection.

That is accomplished by pulling large scary ships into foreign ports and letting the sailors and marines (who have a few paychecks saved up from being at sea) loose on the local population for some well deserved time off (also known as drunkeness and debauchery).

The terrorists have succeeded in reducing the Navy's ability to project power in this port since there probably will not be any more ships visiting this port for many years....

How noble of you, JDC, that... (Below threshold)

How noble of you, JDC, that you wish all people 18-whatever to go fight a battle, as you assume the position of a keyboard crybaby. Very telling!


I'll quote an email from my... (Below threshold)

I'll quote an email from my son, a Marine aboard the Kearsarge:

I’ll be off the ship for 3-5 days doing my thing. I’m sure you’ve all seen the news. It’s not nearly as serious as CNN thinks it is, and you’d have to be a retard to think it’s as serious as the MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Marine command aboard the Kearsarge] does. I’ll email you all again when I return. No worries, shouldn’t be any problems.

It would appear that at least some of the folks aboard these two ships are unhappy about the official reaction, too.

Does EVERY comment thread o... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Does EVERY comment thread on Wizbang have to be hijacked with the chickenhawk troll-meme?

Does EVERY comment threa... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

Does EVERY comment thread on Wizbang have to be hijacked with the chickenhawk troll-meme?

I would guess the trolls feel a bit... threatened by Wizbang for some reason. So they have to behave like twits on pretty much every* thread. Or no one will know they are twits and they don't like the Wizbang blog and... well, probably other things that they think are important.

For some reason, being called a coward by some anonymous troll is just a bit lame, especially with the playground taunting. So is the claim of desperation those who support the war are supposed to feel. I believe the term "projection" applies. I mean, I don't feel any need to go to Atrios' or Kos' site and post obnoxious comments on how things are going, so I wonder why these folks feel a need to come to other blogs and scream "ALL IS LOST" and such as loudly and often as possible?

*=Except, oddly enough, that thread about the young lady wearing the dancer outfit from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Hm. Or maybe that just says something about the threads I'd bother to check. ;)

Just to add a fact to the d... (Below threshold)

Just to add a fact to the discussion. These missiles aren't Soviet surplus items. Different Palestinian factions (and others like Hezbullah) actually make them from scratch. They've been doing so for at least 10 years.

While resources to build them have some limits, those limits are much wider than simply what's available on the arms blackmarket.






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