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"Baiting" by US Snipers.

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:18 pm

What the soldiers in the current Iraqi war scandal appear to have done does seem a bit close to the line.

I have not read completely up on all the related stories.

Howvever, what seems to have transpired is that, in some cases, weapons were left lying around and if they were picked up by an Iraqi individual, they 'were engaged'. In other words, shot dead.

Ok, since there was no way to positively identify the 'possible' as an insurgent this is a tough call.

Last time I checked though, this was still a war.

If I was an Iraqi where possession of a weapon is a bit of a status and survival thing in country, I would be tempted to pick up such a weapon, and not necessarily with the intent of using it for or against the US or the Insurgents.

You are frankly probably a bit better of if you acquire a weapon in Iraq if you don't have one.

Since the individuals picking up the weapons were not mentioned as showing any telltales of intent I don't know how I would fall on this point.

If I was an Iraqi, I would now certainly hesitate to take or pick up weapons in an area where US sniper teams were known to be operating.

In past wars where baiting was used by US forces (excepting the Vietnam War) the enemy could be identified by his uniform.

Since the insurgents in this case are careful to mix in and not where any such uniform which could be identified, this is a precarious situation created by the Insurgents in part.

Assymetrical warfare should be considered as a two edged sword.

Is there a standing order for all Iraqis to turn over weapons to coalition forces? I don't know, surely there should be.

Anecdotally, my ex marine friend, although trained not to leave any weapons behind in Vietnam for the enemy at any camp or position, did develop a very nasty trick.

The fuse of the American grenade, typically, is'lit' when the pin is pulled and the "safety lever' allowed to release.

My friend simply said he would leave behind the odd grenade or to at his 'OP's' that had no fuse and which would immediately explode when the safety lever released.

So, every once in a while, he would observe a VC trying to pitch a grenade back at US forces would be instantly vaporized.

He said the occasional "BOOM" in the immediate vicinity (he could recognize the sound of a US grenade) did not concern him.

Now this was in the so called "Arizona" or I Corps area of operation where not to many Vietnamese friendly to the US generally searched abanoned fighting holes former op's, camps, postions or whatever, could reaonably be expected to be friendly.

Why is either method mentioned any different than leaving IED's or mines lying around?

When US forces left Vietnam thousands of minefields had been placed with literally millions of mines left behind. No maps where left behind to assist inclearing the fields.

The NVA and the VC were no less guilty in this respect.

Assymetrical Warfare has to be assumed to cut both ways.
Even in conventional warfare, after the Iran Iraq war, millions of mines were left in the border and fighting areas.

One writer said that these 'leave behinds "could be expected to be blowing up camels for decades". Unfortunately,other things get blown up as well.

Your thoughts?

I will add more as the thread demands.


PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 4:26 pm
by Glenn
Regarding left-behind mines, within my field of geography this is an issue that has gained considerable attention in recent years. I've been seeing a variety of conference presentations and papers on it lately. For example several geographers have been exploring ways to better identify left-behind mine fields using geographic technology. Here is an example from a University of Kansas team:
Land mine mapping
Land mine mapping

University of Kansas researchers are traveling the world in a dangerous pursuit. They're testing a new, high-tech method for mapping land mines.

KU geography professor Jerry Doubloon, says the goal is to develop a system that allows mapping a mine field without walking on it.

The system the Kansas researchers use is based on technology developed in Sweden. It uses laser binoculars, GPS, a hand-held computer and a digital camera to create maps of areas where mines have been detected.

The information is forwarded to an international database. It then can be accessed by de-mining agencies that will go to remove mines.

The Kansas team is studying how well the system works, and how to train those who will use it in mine-laden countries.

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 4:56 pm
by Glenn
Other geographers have been analyzing the post-war impacts of left-behind mines, beyond just the obvious medical issues of injuries/deaths resulting from exploding mines. Here is a recent article from the journal Political Geography for example, it requires Adobe Acrobat to open:
The political ecology of recovery from armed conflict: the case of landmines in Mozambique

Land Mine Removal

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:08 am
Hi Glenn:


In some cases US veterans did return post '75 to aid in mine removal.

Some had maps (of theirs and ours) on the general location and layout of such fields.

But here is a funny thought--if on laid a mine here, in the Eastern US Forest areas, it would not really take too many years for a shallowly laid mind to be buried and effectively disarmed by leaves-yeah iknw, leaves?

This is not something that would happend overnight.

The US is planning on having all it's mines be detonatable on command in a given field and/or have a set time after which the mines will no longer function.

Any thoughts?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:46 pm
by Glenn
Having them detonatable on command might be viable if the area can be secured and the detonation monitored, otherwise still some risk for unintended causalties as they are being detonated.

Without knowing exactly how they would do it, at this point I would be leary of them being set to not function after a period of time. Admittedly it would be safer than the present situation but I would think it would still leave the explosives intact in the environment.

I grew up in Hardin County Kentucky, home of the Fort Knox army training base. Every once in a while someone would collect firewood near (or illegally in) the artillery firing range and get a tree with an unexploded small-caliber shell embedded in it. Trees have a wonder ability to develop new woody growth that covers non-fatal damage, so after a few years there would be little hint that a shell is embedded in the trunk. Every once in a while there would be a case of a fireplace being blown out due to a piece of firewood containing an unexploded shell.

Unexploded ordinance can be an issue for a very long time. Here is an overview of ongoing issues in Europe from unexploded WWI ordinance:

And here was a recent case in Tennessee related to unexploded shells in a WWII practice range that has not been used since 1945:
World War II shell sets off $8M lawsuit

How well having ordinance set to not go off after a period of time would prevent incidents like these, I cannot say. these do kinda discount the leaf theory though.

Interesting and More interesting

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:50 pm

A couple of decades ago a friend of mine was doing some 'dozer work of a piece of C------------ Farms property.

On the property was a small pond and some old buildings.

Some of the work necessitated work around the edges of the pond.

The'dozer blade strated to turn up unexploded munitions apparently tossed in the pond.

On further inquiry it turns out that the building next to the pond were utilized during WWII as munitions works or a site for testing munitions.

Apparently the practice was to toss 'duds' into the pond.

We turned up dozens of weapons in many calibers before we decided to 'get out of Dodge' and my friend suggested to the landowner that he/tehy find another 'dozer operator.

This actually caused him his job and as far as I am aware the munitions in their hundreds remain there to this day.

As to 'turn off' times for mines, this is obviously a lose lose choice.

However, I would rather step on a disarmed mine and deal with the damage to the enviroment by 'paying at the office.

A rather self centered point of view, admittedly.

So what could be the environmental damage of decaying explosives?

Many current AP mines are made of plastic and undetectable (how sanguine) by mine detectors.

The plastic could last for centuries just at a guess, unlike detectable metal cased devices..

Princess Diana headed a charge to get these mines removed in former war zones.

So, the only way to make a way thourgh a field contaning plastic mines is with the 'probe and dig' method or with a device similar to the "Flail" used on British and Canadian Beaches (Juno Sword and Gold) during operation overload.

I don't even want to think about drafting the requied EIS (evironmental impact statement)

WWII GIs would use their bayonets for probing. That took more courage than I think I could muster while being shot at.

The line goes "only Uncle Sam would insure you" in that line of work.

Not my favorite idea of a great job description