November 11th, 2005

fashionable

White phosphorus use in Fallujah violated law of land warfare?!

In the Battle Book of the US Army Command and General Staff College, Section 5-11 (b4), it states:

(4) Burster Type White phosphorus (WP M110A2) rounds burn with intense heat and emit dense white smoke. They may be used as the initial rounds in the smokescreen to rapidly create smoke or against material targets, such as Class V sites or logistic sites. It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.

But of course, a journalist witnessed it being fired "into a cluster of buildings" in Fallujah where insurgents were previously spotted, and it was used "against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE"... There's even a section in the same document where the analysts commented that they wish that they had more HC smoke munitions to use for screening missions in place of white phosphorus, so that they could've "saved our WP for lethal missions."

One mystery until now is what kind of ordinance does this to a city. The documentary shows what appears to be WP mortar shells being fired, which is presumably part of the "shake and bake" or screening missions mentioned, but it also shows a helicopter raining burning, smoking hell down upon several blocks of the city.

My best guess is that it was an Apache helicopter with a M261 multiple rocket launcher, firing M156 white phosphorus rockets:
M156 White Phosphorous (Smoke). The M156 (diagram) is primarily used for target marking and incendiary purposes. . . Filler for the M156 is 2,2 pounds of WP with .12-pound bursting charge of composition B. The approximate weight of the fuzed warhead is 9.7 pounds.

Unsurprisingly, where there is smoke, there's also fire.

It's time for the Bush administration to come clean, issue a retraction to the State Department denial, and 'fess up to the full truth of how white phosphorus was used in Fallujah. The full story may not be public yet, but it won't be long, and the earlier they respond, the better it will be for the country.
fashionable

Truth 1, U.S. State Department 0.

U.S. State Department admits to the offensive use of white phosphorus in Fallujah.

They have issued an update / retraction to their denial of WP at the bottom of their page, saying:

"White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, i.e., obscuring troop movements and, according to an article, "The Fight for Fallujah," in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine, "as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes …." The article states that U.S. forces used white phosphorous rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds."

It's still an understatement of the article, which conveniently cuts out the mention of "shake and bake" and saving their WP ordinance for "lethal missions", but it's probably as close to the truth as those bastards are going to get. Good for them for correcting their misstatement/lie/whatever. Negative marks for the U.S. media, though, for not adequately covering and investigating the issue. Once again, they leave all the work for the webloggers. Pussies...

So, the obvious question left to ask is where the hell did the U.S. State Department get the idea previously that white phosphorus was only used for "illumination"? Was it an intentional deceit, or just half-assed asscovering? That, of course, is the question that will probably never be answered, but at least truth won another small battle without having to wait fifty years for the historians to figure it out.