[NYT] Vast, Unsecure Iraqi Arms Depots Could Take Years to Dispose Of

James Rogers jamesr at best.com
Tue Sep 30 11:26:40 PDT 2003

On Tue, 2003-09-30 at 08:23, Jim Whitehead wrote:
> Wow. If true, this strikes me as being just mind-blowingly negligent.
> I suppose the flip side to this story is the reason you don't have people
> blowing things up all the time, in every country in the world, is that most
> people just don't want to. That is, given how insecure the weapons are, it
> is astounding there haven't been more bombings.

The same problem exists in the US.  And not just in terms of the
vastness of the stockpiles required to be stored, which if you've ever
seen some of the dumps, require square miles of endless bunkers in the
middle of nowhere.  To guard that kind of space in a really adequate
manner would require vastly more money than is spent on it, but there is
also the utilitarian aspect.  As you point out, nobody ever tries to
steal the explosives in practice.

A problem for the US that consumes a lot of EOD time is the fact that
explosives are scattered across the training ranges of military bases. 
And not just "dud" rounds, but actual blocks of TNT and C4 by the dozens
or hundreds, and endless small chunks of undetonated C4.  The problem is
that when you set large charges, some of the explosive doesn't detonate
and actually gets flung hither and yon, and many of the common
explosives are designed to withstand weathering.  As a result, well-used
military regions are littered with chunks of plastic explosives and
similar that anyone could come along and harvest by the pound.  When the
military decomissions a base, it usually takes a couple years for the
EOD guys to go through and do a cursory sweep of the areas that have
lots of explosive lying around, and even then they miss a lot of it.  An
inevitable problem is that after the base is opened up to civilians,
people sometimes go back in the range areas to collect C4 and similar. 
Before anyone gets any ideas, note that this is also why they have
Federal police poking around back there long after the EOD guys leave.

Beside which, if you really want the stuff you can purchase it legally
with a driver's license for a few bucks a pound.


-James Rogers
 jamesr at best.com

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