Saturday, November 12, 2005

Willie Pete, reignited 
Some ignoramous in the State Department issued a press release claiming that White Phosphorous was used "for illumination purposes only."

I can't tell you how damaging that was to the Administration's credibility. It didn't take long before the Kossacks and other people were citing an article from Field Artillery Magazine stating that White Phosphorous was indeed highly effective as a weapon:

WP proved tobe an effective and versatile munition.We used it for screening missions attwo breeches and, later in the fight, as apotent psychological weapon againstthe insurgents in trench lines and spiderholes when we could not get effects onthem with HE. We fired “shake andbake” missions at the insurgents, usingWP to flush them out and HE to takethem out.

(An interesting read, incidentally. A must read for military professionals and serious students of warfighting.)

So essentially, the ignorant buffoon who wrote this State Department press release -- false on its face to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the ordnance -- made the Administration out to look like a liar.

And the critics have seized upon it, saying "if they're lying about it, it's because they know something's wrong."

But the press release just illustrates how widespread the ignorance is on the topic.

The State Department should issue an immediate clarification, and refrain from commenting on technical matters best left to the DoD and CENTCOM.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Turns out they did:

From the same press release:

November 10, 2005 note: We have learned that some of the information we were provided in the above paragraph is incorrect. 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.]

Why is State talking about military matters in the first place?
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