US defends use of white phosphorus

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday acknowledged using incendiary white-phosphorus munitions in a 2004 offensive against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja and defended their use as legal, amid concerns by arms control advocates.

    Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. military had not used the highly flammable weapons against civilians, contrary to an Italian state television report this month that stated the munitions were used against men, women and children in Falluja who were burned to the bone.

    "We categorically deny that claim," Venable said.

    "It's part of our conventional-weapons inventory and we use it like we use any other conventional weapon," added Bryan Whitman, another Pentagon spokesman.

    Venable said white phosphorus weapons are not outlawed or banned by any convention.

    However, a protocol to an accord on conventional weapons which took effect in 1983 forbids using incendiary weapons against civilians.

    The protocol also forbids their use against military targets within concentrations of civilians, except when the targets are clearly separated from civilians and "all feasible precautions" are taken to avoid civilian casualties.

    The United States is a party to the overall accord, but has not ratified the incendiary-weapons protocol or another involving blinding laser weapons.

    White phosphorus munitions are primarily used by the U.S. military to make smoke screens and mark targets, but also as an incendiary weapon, the Pentagon said. They are not considered chemical weapons. The substance ignites easily in air at temperatures of about 86 degrees F (30 C), and its fire can be difficult to extinguish.


    Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, questioned whether the U.S. military was using the weapons in a manner consistent with the conventional weapons convention.

    "White phosphorous weapons should not be used just like any other conventional weapon," Kimball said.

    Kimball called for an independent review of how the United States was using the weapons and possibly an investigation by countries that are parties to the convention "to determine whether their use in Iraq is appropriate or not."

    U.S. forces used the white phosphorus during a major offensive launched by Marines in Falluja, about 30 miles (50 km) west of Baghdad, to flush out insurgents. The battle in November of last year involved some of the toughest urban fighting of the 2-1/2-year war.

    Venable said that in the Falluja battle, "U.S. forces used white phosphorous both in its classic screening mechanism and ... when they encountered insurgents who were in foxholes and other covered positions who they could not dislodge any other way."

    He said the soldiers employed a "Shake and bake " technique of using white phosphorus shells to flush enemies out of hiding and then use high explosives artillery rounds to kill them.

    The Italian documentary showed images of bodies recovered after the Falluja offensive, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against civilians.

    "We don't target any civilians with any of our weapons. And to suggest that U.S. forces were targeting civilians with these weapons would simply be wrong," Whitman said.

    "Shake and bake "
  2. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    "They all burn when they ignite,
    Naplam loves the terrorists of the world"
  3. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Damn, when did it become wrong to kill during war?
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    My guess is around the time it became genocide.
  5. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    One mans genocide is another mans efectively removing the enemy from the battlefield. It's like things are unfair if we aren't attriting about equal to what we are loosing.
  6. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Did you know that WP burns through skin and leaves the clothing? Have you ever seen what it does to human beings? It is chemical warfare, and it is entirely wrong.

    But I also agree that war tactics should be based on being effective. Unfortunately, we are not talking about war here, we are talking about a holy crusade for world domination and the extermination of any people, entire races who stand in the way.
  7. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I know we stopped the use of Napalm for the lack of precise targeting. WP IMO falls under the same area. I know that a warning was given for civilians to clear out. But This was not some po-dunk town. A very large population.

    I have no problems killing an enemy. I do question the use of something that leaves clouds that can float around burning up women and children. They are the very people we are trying to "free from Oppression"

    This just looks bad. This story comes out around the same time we are debating in Congress, "To torture or not to Torture"...
    War is an ugly thing, but some of these allegations make us look like Nazis or Iraqis to the rest of the world.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I don't like removing any weapon from the armory, up to (but not including) nukes, but there is a place and a time to use them. The commander on scene has to be alert to the right time. In our current circumstances, civilians will be in the way in just about all cases. I think we will never see a clear cut option, but the commander has to use his judgement. What proportion of non combatants to terrorists is an acceptable mix?

    We are avoiding golden opportunities to take out masses of jihadists that take shelter in mosques, schools, hospitals and the like without regard to the civilians among them for "humane" reasons. Very few opportunities are going to come up that will allow unrestricted war unless we decide that politics cannot be allowed to rule the battlefield.

    I don't think that WP should be abandoned, and napalm is a good thing in the right place. Comes then the question: How badly do we want to win?
  9. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    perhaps I have read too many books about Oil and it clouds my overall judgement of our Current "War on Terrorism" I fully Support our troops. But question the source and intent of some of those orders. IMHO.

    Of course, I could be completely wrong too. ;)

    I just hate to see those clips of this current WP sit. There were women and children that were noncombatants that were burned to the bone.

    Then again, I'm not in the fray and am just digesting news as I see it
  10. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    People don't want to see the truth, Melbo.

    Most of them (Americans especially) still believe that we are fighting a real enemy, when it is fact that Al-CIAda and all the "terrorists" are a phantom enemy or controlled organizations at best. The Neo-Cons in power RIGHT NOW are murderers who feasted off of the assassination of Kennedy and they will have their judgement day...

    no matter the cost.
  11. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Melbo, the WP cloud is not poisonous. WP is used by our armor vehicles to produce a white smoke cloud to hide them. If it was poisonous, then it would kill our own armor crew members. It is only the actual chunk of phosphorous that is burning that will cause damage.

    I don't really see the difference between burning someone with WP or shreadding them to pieces with shrapnel. Both are going to kill, both are gruesom, and both are extremely painful. Why is WP any different?

    The "world community" is banning everything warfare. Can't use mines, napalm, air dispensed mines, volcano, chemical, nukes, .50 on people. We are getting to the point that the only thing we will be able to use on the enemy is rifle bullets, with that being next. Pretty soon, we will fight wars like little kids with soft air or paint ball and then say, I shot you!, no you didn't, I shot you. Can't use torture, and the definition of torture is becoming anything other than milk and cookies for coersion. Maybe it's time for me to get out of the military. We are backing ourselves into a corner so that we won't ever be able to do anything but negotiate like the Freaking FRENCH!!! Y'all worry about the UN coming to America and taking your rights away? We need to get back to growing a pair. We kill the enemy, that is how we win wars. Go to your grandfather and uncle that was in the south pacific and call him cruel for using napalm or WP. You will get bitch slapped. This is war and people die. The civilian populace has always taken the largest brunt of war and it will always be that way. If we don't stop turning soft, we will get what we deserve.
    There, y'all got me fired up for the day, time to get off my soap box!
  12. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Stay on your soapbox snipper-66. We all need to hear that voice of experience. I happen to agree with you but even if I didn't, Iyour perspective is first hand so I give it extra credence.
  13. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    I am still waiting for the $1.00 gasoline to make me believe this is soley about "oil". Regional stability as it relates to oil, maybe.

    I don't believe in fighting a fair war bound by a document which codifiys our conduct on the battlefield. People say we have to fight according to rules while people have their heads sliced off. Not me. We should be dipping each one of the captured jihadis in pig fat and let it be known that any foreigner caught in Iraq as part of the insurrection would suffer the same pig fat fate. all their dead should be buried clutching a dead fetal pig, too.

    In WWII we didn't worry about "collateral damage". Winning through collateral damage was more like it. Although we didn't intentionally bomb civilian areas, the result of our bombing campaign was the leveling of entire cities. I lived in Hannover and there was 1 building left standing after the war...the Marketplace Church. The only reason it was left standing was the bomb that went through its roof didn't explode. Take Hiroshima and Nagisaki, for example. Simple bombing of industrial cities or the intentional bombing of two important cities that would lead to heavy civilian and industrial base that would crush the will of the populace to support the war? I think the latter. That has been the most common tactic in war over history...eliminate the will of the populace to fight and the war ends quicker.

    I think we should have chosen another city in the area that was similar to fallujah. We should have carpet bombed it witht b-52s, b-1s, and everything else at our disposal that could toss dumb bombs. Then we could give the world something to really talk about, WWII tactics or modern warfare. Take your pick.

    The appeasement mentality led to 60 million total deaths world wide in WWII. We got along way to go to match that number. Even if we nuked all of Iraq, 28 million would have been killed. [rnt]
  14. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Hey, Melbo, my rant wasn't aimed at you, I just commented on the WP smoke and then used that same reply to rant, so don't take that as an attack on you. Thanks Righthand, appreciate the support, same with you Clyde. I don't want to sound crass and make people think I have the "kill em all, let God sort em out" mentality. My point is that more civilians have been killed in every conflict in modern history than combatants, probably always will be that way. My point is that we do our utmost to TRY not to kill civilians, the enemy doesn't afford us that luxuary, look at 9/11. If they catch our soldiers, they cut their heads off with a rusty pocket knife. When a patrol brief includes the statement "don't get captured, if you do, you will be killed" kinda sets the tone.
    Broker, as far as politics, you are probably right, but I don't have the intelligence to determine which war to fight based on justness. Every war ever fought was fought over politics, always will be that way.
  15. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I dont have a problem with 'kill them all, let God sort them out', its a good idea. As long as civilians around the enimy are safe and shields then the enimy will hide behind them and the civilains in general wont care, as soon as the entire area and anyone in it where the enimy is gets wiped out then it becomes the civilians problem as well when these a*&holes are around and then they will start doing thier part to get rid of them and it will become dangerous from both sides for the enimy to hide in the populace when thier 'shields' start shooting at them too.
    How many civilians is it ok to take in the mix? How many civilians will those terrorists take out if we let them live?
  16. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    That lead to my getting out and deciding Clinton wasnt the one I would follow.
    Shake and Bake!!!!!!!!!!!!
  17. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    no trouble Sniper. I was just gone all day. :D
    I never saw it directed at me... you're still here right? :D

    My biggest problem with all of this is that what we are even perceived as doing, will result in further hatred of the US and possibly more attacks.

    We could go in to anywhere in the world and 'win' if we really let loose. The cat and mouse is what makes it seem a bit hokey to me.

    Bottom line. I don't want to lose guys like you who are there or are shortly going there for no reason. I also understand Collateral damage but a Nuke would be more efficient.

    We are making fresh enemies every month. And I think the International Media's perception of the Good Ole USA is turning on us for over things like this.
  18. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    As usual Clyde, we are on the same page. As for as what the rest of the world thinks, I think for the most part they already do hate us, we have to be in this for us., as in the intrest of the U.S. and our allies. I think we should be loading up our tankers with free Iraqi oil until the monetary debt is paid for. Then with bases all over Iraq, we will have a foothold in the middle east.

    To be honest though, I would just be happy if we could secure our own friggin' borders! ;)
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    We have tried to be nice guys, generous to a fault, and they take that for weakness. As seems historically correct, until you are an SOB, you get no respect. As is also historically correct, if you let your guard down, you will decline to obscurity. So let's be SOBs and watch our own backs, since no one else will.

    Stop short of nukes, tho', they leave a mess behind that will take too long to clean up to the point it will be without risk for us to exploit. :)
  20. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Since they are calling us Crusaders, lets give them what they ask for. We scorch their earth and do it in the name of God, then it ain't our fault! As for making enemies, we will alway be their enemy. Armageddon is at a place called Megido in Isreal.
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