Mon, 20 Jan 2003 05:51:12 +0000
Owen Byrne wrote:
"Tanks are built with all sorts of sighting gear that will allow them to hit
targets out to 3000 or more meters, but the vast majority of the time, the
ranges will be only 500 m - similar to tank battles during WWII."
During the Gulf war, nearly every Iraqi tank was taken out by American tanks
at ranges exceeding one mile -often from ranges in excess of 2000 meters in
On January 19, 2003, Owen Byrne wrote:
"Iraqi combat deaths during the Gulf conflict were possibly as low as 1500,
far below the widely accepted 100 000 figure, a former US Defense
Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst reports."
This is so absurd I don't know where to begin. As to your source on Iraqi
combat deaths, John Heidenrich, I'd like to remind you that the particular
Jane's entry you use is dated 1993, barely a year and a half after the Gulf
War, and a point in time when every Western journalist, analyst, and
fruitcake on the planet had his/her own theory about what had transpired in
Kuwait. Also, Heidenrich sites as his source of information, "Iraqi
statements". We can take that to bank, huh? His estimation of events is
hallucination, pure and simple. 1500 combat deaths! Try 225,000 Iraqi combat
deaths. You can attribute about 90% of those to B-52s.
One of my jobs in Vietnam was that of conducting BDAs, the "bomb damage
assessment" mission. After each Arc Light raid (high altitude laser-guided
bombing missions by B52s), teams of American and Vietnamese Rangers were
airlifted into the remote jungle border areas of western Vietnam and Laos
where these strikes always took place, to assess damage.
Where "thousand pounders" were the bombs of choice (as they were in Iraq),
craters left in the aftermath in dense jungle were still 30-50 ft deep with
a radius of 150-200 ft. In open terrain, within 1000 meters of the blast
epicenter of a thousand pounder, all life is extinguished simply by virtue
of the shock wave, let alone shrapnel. Very dense jungle in Southeast Asia
cut this killing radius down to about 300 meters, but saturation bombing
more than made up for the deficit.
Each B-52 can carry fifty such bombs, and as many as a dozen bombers may
participate in a single Arc Light raid, though three bombers was the usual
number, three being sufficient to kill everything in a one thousand meter by
two thousand meter swath in the dense jungles of I Corps. In the open desert
terrain of Kuwait however, with precise satellite targeting technology
available 20 years after the Vietnam War, the B-52s were far more efficient.
They were devastating in fact.
Why has the effectiveness of the B-52 been kept so tightly under wraps from
Vietnam, through the Gulf War, through Afghanistan?
"The horror."--Col. Walter Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
On landing near a "thousand pounder" crater, one is greeted by absolute
silence. No insects chirp, no birds sing, no monkeys howl, nothing moves.
Everything is dead, even the leeches. Many of the dead soldiers we found
hadn't a mark on them. Some, several hundred yards from a blast epicenter,
were in the exact positions they'd been in before the blast, leaning against
trees reading letters or writing in diaries, some cooking rice. The single
most common dread to be sited in the diaries of North Vietnamese soldiers
wasn't just the prospect of being killed by B-52s, rather it was the
prospect of being buried alive in deep bunker complexes, many 30 feet or
more beneath the jungle surface. Religious icons being forbidden them, these
diary entries regarding B-52s were often accompanied by a small drawing of a
peace dove on the same page. The most common nightmare sited by NVA veterans
years after the war had the B-52 as its recurring thematic locus.
We had no idea how many NVA soldiers suffered this fate until the early
1990's, when Vietnamese communist diplomats in Paris admitted to losing
450,000 KIA in I Corps alone, the most northerly war district. More than
half they admitted, probably 60%, were killed by B-52s. 250,000 NVA soldiers
went missing (MIA) during the war, the vast majority entombed in deep
bunkers by B-52 raids. That phantom army of 200,000 Iraqi soldiers, the one
John Heidenrich and Owen Byrne care not to acknowledge, can be found in that
very same tomb.
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