Why Now?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
  "Shake and Bake"
In the grim, black humor of the military "shake and bake" refers to alternating white phosphorus rounds [WP - "Willy Pete"] with high explosive rounds [HE - "Ham and Eggs"]. The WP forces the enemy out of their positions increasing the likelihood of their being killed by the HE.

The WP rounds are normally used to mark locations for air strikes, to provide illumination, or to generate smoke screens. Many would be familiar with the use of "tracer" rounds in machine guns to assist in aiming the weapon, especially when used against aircraft.

Ever since the battle of Falluja there have been reports from various source that the United States forces had used incendiary weapons in the battle. Many said that napalm or the reformulated MK 77 Mod 5 bombs were used in the city. Some of the reporting was based on the appearance of burns on the bodies of the dead from city.

After more than a year of denials the BBC now reports:
The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Falluja.

"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.

The US earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all.

Col Venable denied that the substance - which can cause burning of the flesh - constituted a banned chemical weapon.

Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices.

Col Venable said a statement by the US state department that white phosphorus had not been used was based on "poor information".
I heard the interview with Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, US Army, Pentagon spokesman and certified obnoxious twit. Some of the BBC correspondents have the demeanor of a rabid pit bull when questioning people, for example, I'm sure that the Oxford English Dictionary has a picture of Jeremy Paxman in its entry on obnoxious, but the individual interviewing Venable was just trying to get a straight answer.

Venable spent the entire interview playing with definitions. Somewhat like a cat who has had an "accident" on a tile floor, Venable was "scratching" for cover. If Venable and other spokesweasels would really like to improve the image of the United States in the world community, they might try giving straight answers to questions. The "poor information" the State Department had was a Defense Department lie. The truth is a powerful weapon that the Pentagon might want to consider for inclusion in the American arsenal.

 



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