US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon in Iraq
That’s right. Not from Al Jazeera, or Al Arabiya, but the US Army, in their very own publication, from the (WARNING: pdf file) March edition of Field Artillery Magazine in an article entitled “The Fight for Fallujah”:
“WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] 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.”
In other words the claim by the US Government that White Phosphorus was used only for illumination at Fallujah had been pre-emptively debunked by the Army. Indeed, the article goes on to make clear that soldiers would have liked to have saved more WP rounds to use for “lethal missions.”
However, as Mark Kraft, an emailer to Eric Alterman’s blog, Altercation, points out today, the Field Artillery Magazine article fails to inform its audience that
. . . there is no way you can use white phosphorus like that without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits. Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren’t just psychological in nature.
Furthermore, (from a link provided by Mr. Kraft, thank you very much) testimony about the use of these “shake and bake” techniques of WP usage are detailed in an account by an embedded Journalist regarding the April 2004 attacks on Fallujah by the Marines:
Fighting from a distance
After pounding parts of the city for days, many Marines say the recent combat escalated into more than they had planned for, but not more than they could handle.
“It’s a war,” said Cpl. Nicholas Bogert, 22, of Morris, N.Y.
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.
Shake ‘n’ bake
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.
So who are you to believe? The US Department of Defense or the US Army and the US Marine Corps? Decisions, decisions . . .