Wednesday, November 16, 2005

White Phosphorus in Combat

Here at Situational Awareness, our intention is to provide news and commentary on advances in military technology in an apolitical manner. Of course, it is not always possible to separate politics from the art of what has been called "politics by other means." There is a controversy raging over the use of white phosphorus by US forces in the Falluja campaign in November 2004. This is being celebrated in some circles as something of a "gotcha" moment, with commentators seizing on the Pentagon "admitting" to using the incendiary in combat. This is something like the Pentagon "admitting" to using bullets and high explosives against the enemy.

White phosphorus has been used extensively in combat for over half a century. In particular, it is worth noting the employment of white phosphorus rounds against the giant ants that infested areas of New Mexico and California in 1954. In one memorable engagement, US Army soldiers fired white phosphorus bazooka rounds at the opening of a desert nest in order to drive the Volkswagen-sized ants deeper into their tunnel complex, away from the surface. This facilitated the introduction of poison gas into the lair. Special combat engineering teams then rapelled down to mop up with flamethrowers. Textbook.

In Falluja, white phosphorus was apparently used to achieve the opposite effect. Enemy combatants were flushed from their hideouts by the heat and choking smoke so they could be killed in the open with bullets and high explosives. The dense smoke produced by white phosphorus rounds also was used to provide tactical cover for advancing US troops. Textbook.

White phosphorus: It's good enough for Them.


At 8:58 AM, Blogger Eric Blair said...

PETA will be on you for that. Beware.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Michael Puttre said...

Yeah, I sort of felt sorry for the baby queeen ants at the end when I was eight. Now that I'm older, I realize it's a biff or be biffed world. Smoke 'em!

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Brendan P. Rivers said...

PETA? People Eating Tasty Ants? Nah...they're all for WP.


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