WP Deserves Its Own Post

One of the way to tell that you’re making progress with the leftist, anti-Bush crowd is to gauge where a particular conversation drifts off too. It’s customary for those guys to change subjects when they’ve been defeated in one area in the hopes that one forgets their silly arguments and lack of substance. I’m not from the left and I’m not from the right. I’m actually left on some issues and right on others. Anyway, THIS article was referenced in the comments and I’d like to tackle it in the public forum here.

I don’t even know why I answer these types of invitations since my response will only get classified as “propaganda” or “lies”, but I’ll talk to those who WILL listen. I get paid by the military, but not to be their spokesperson. I speak from experience, not necessity. Although, sometimes I should be paid more or at least charge tuition.

First of all, allow me to explain the military uses of white phosphorus (WP) for those who have no idea what we’re talking about. There are many uses for WP in the miltiary arsenal, but mostly to produce smoke and flares. WP is highly incendiary under certain circumstances and not so under others. When it reacts with oxygen, it produces smoke. It can also be used as an incendiary device. We had incendiary grenades that I used to destroy large enemy weapons and as a safeguard in case I had to destroy my safe if I was compromised.
smoke screen
Our smoke grenades, mortars and artillery shells designed to create smoke to conceal troop movements or mark enemy positions use WP. Sometimes it’s normal white smoke, sometimes different colors to signify different things. We use red smoke to mark a medevac site. I use WP almost EVERY month here at the NTC to replicate a burning vehicle after a VBIED goes off.

WP is also used in flares and illumination rounds. The concentration of WP is different (I’m no chemist, so I can’t go into that) so that it burns longer and brighter to produce light or just burn off quickly as a signal flare. The burning of WP is what causes the intense light and shooting flares.

In no way is WP outlawed anywhere. The silly article quoted here (my turn to cry left-wing propaganda and misleading lies) makes it sound like we are shooting illumination devices directly at the enemy, which isn’t the case.

It says that WP is a “potent psychological tool” against insurgents. How true it is!! Well, if something went off next to me that produced a cloud of smoke, I’d be afraid it was chemical weapons too and run. If you’ve ever seen the grenades used for riot control, you’d know what I’m talking about. If I were the enemy, I’d wonder if the smoke going off is CS or anything else. Any kind of smoke can readily induce panic behavior if the adversary is unable to escape the contaminated area. When I was in Iraq, we’d mask up every time the enemy used smoke because we assumed they’d be using chemical weapons. It was a good psychological tool against us early on as well.

After shooting the smoke version of white phosphorus into the building and causing the enemy to panic and run out into the open, HE (high explosive) rounds would be shot at them to kill them. HE rounds rely on concussion and fragmentation to cause damage in a wide area. When riot police shoot smoke containing CS gas at rioters, that’s a good psychological tool as well.

The silly article here quotes from a silly person who says, “there is no way you can use white phosphorus like that without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits.” My gosh!! I should be dead many times over!! I don’t think there’d be anyone left here at the NTC if that were true with what we’re using. Yeah, if you use a huge bomb of the right mixture of the incendiary stuff. But, it would have to be a HUGE bomb. That’s not what we were using in Fallujah. The author continues, “Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren’t just psychological in nature.” Deadly clouds, huh? I need to go find those pictures I have of me walking through said “deadly cloud.” Maybe the fact that I’m an NCO makes me invincible to such ghastly concoctions.

Why did the mortarmen fire WP and then HE? The simple answer is the ‘shake and bake’, basically making them think they’re in danger because of the smoke and the follow-on HE rounds killing them. The insurgents think the smoke grenades being fired at them are chemical weapons and run for their lives. Psychological ops, baby!!

The article also quotes Army sources when they say they wanted to save more WP for “lethal missions.” It intends to mislead readers into thinking the WP itself is being used as the lethal device when in fact it’s simply providing targets for other lethal means such as HE rounds and other indirect fire methods, direct fire engagements, and close air support.

By the way, the Army has updated the article linked in that piece of fiction linked above. Bottom line is that we use smoke all the time. Smoke is white phosphorus. Even if it was the incendiary version of white phosphorus, it’s still not illegal anywhere. It’s not banned under United Nations regulations and it’s not banned under the Geneva Convention. The simple fact of the matter is that phosphorus is allowed under international laws of war. If we want to burn the enemy to death, we could very well do that, but we aren’t. Even napalm (napalm is a gel, by the way, not a gas), which we don’t use anymore, isn’t outlawed.

I know that this is a hard pill to swallow because it throws another wrench in the left’s schemes to discredit us, but the truth is sometimes hard to swallow. I suggest a bigger glass of water.

21 Comments on “WP Deserves Its Own Post

  1. Hey,

    Alot of this boils down to a simple joke.. Those who can do, those who can’t become journalists.

  2. CJ,
    I wouldn’t worry too much about what the WP critics at the canadian site want to say. After looking at their site, I wanted to respond – but realized it would be futile – they are so far to the left that reason would have no effect. Just keep doing what you’re doing and thanks from me for doing it. I’d like to be there with you but they won’t let me – 55 seems to be too old for what I want to do.

  3. Wow, I can’t believe how many people apprently have not taken grade 10 chemistry or ever looked at a element table. Phosphorus (P) is a commen chemical, actually essential to all organisms. Not too say it can’t be toxic, too much of anything can kill anyone. But I’m just amazed by some people’s completely uninformed bias. They just instinctively think and believe anything bad about America without checking the facts (that goes for the reports from BBC or whatever, who filed those “allegations”. This can’t be hard just open a science text or just google it. WP has been so commonly used at least since WW2; it’s not like it’s a “secret” weapon. Intellectually lazy and onept people should not toss around accusations so easily and readily.

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  6. I was looking around at FAS.ORG for WP, i couldn’t find any munitions using it. The only thing i found was the M15 WP smoke grenade.

    Question: Aren’t illuminating flares usually magnesium, not wp?

    Lastly, someone should tell the crowds that we’re using phosphor in tracers.. that’ll get them hollering if they knew we mix it 1 to 4. heh.

  7. Unfortunately, Mr Kolb is no longer allowed to post here. Though I haven’t had to delete any more of his posts (cause he hasn’t attempted to leave any) I informed him that he is no longer welcome here. He is the first person I’ve had to censor in that matter and hopefully the last. I don’t mind disagreement (I believe DWG is a regular commentator who no problems at least being respectful in his criticism). I actually invite disagreement and discussion. Wilson didn’t understand that and by criticizing my love for and respect by children, I made a choice that I didn’t care what he thought any longer. I think if you go back and check his previous posts, he has a website you can go and engage him at. I’d be interested in following that.

  8. CJ, it’s pretty funny how the Liberals that invaded your site run, and hide when the truth is in front of them. I would imagine that I hurt the poor ego of Mr. Kolb, but just like little kids, you have to put them in their place when they are wrong.

  9. That poll is bias, along with all the other media coverages on Iraq.

    A reporter asked a local national how things were, and the Iraqi Gentlemen replied that he has never been better.

    Then the reporter asks why is everything better, and the gentlemen replied, “Because of the United States Army and President Bush”

    The reporter then asked if it was because the US Army is protecting him, but the man said that there are no US patrols in the area, but he is safe because of the new Army batallion that was handed over from the US to trained troops.

    The man then interjected and informed the reporter that he was poor growing up and this was the first time that he had potable water in his home, electricity, and safe.

    I hope you love the story Mr. Kolb, and I have many more, because we are making a positive difference in the lives of Iraq, and for their future.

    You can’t dispute the numbers, because their economy is booming right now.

    If you think we are here because of the oil you are completely mistaken as well. Iraq has to import oil, because there is none, because the insurgents continue to cut off all oil supplies. But, over time, and the training these individuals will be able to take care of their own resources and dispatch their own troops.


  10. I’m agnostic on the use of WP as a weapon. I don’t know enough about it to have formed an opinion. My issue is that the U.S. government is congenitally unable to tell the truth about anything it gets its hands on. That’s a very bad habit, and it does serious damage over time.


    It is any wonder that 57% of the American people in the latest Associated Press poll think that the Lying Sack isn’t an honest man?

  11. BW, well said. The way I see it, and this is CJ’s opinion, not the Army’s, is that they’re going to die either way. But the Christian side of me always chooses the more humane way of doing business. Thanks for the unbiased discussion.

  12. Well, the truth as usual is somewhat in-between. The best commentary on the relevent Geneva Conventions (there isn’t just one folks), articles and agreements is here:


    Also note the link at the bottom of it to the weapons dicussion, which isn’t written in relation to this particular little issue, but more broadly. If I may summarize, it would suggest that firing a weapon, the primary purpose or effect of which is to burn the enemy, is not justified unless it is more effective than another munitions in killing or incapacitating the opponent.

    So to the question of “…shooting the smoke version of white phosphorus into the building and causing the enemy to panic and run out into the open, HE (high explosive) rounds would be shot at them to kill them.”

    This would be considered legitimate so long as the smoke does not cause them to choke to death (rules about asphixiating gases) and so long as it is not believed there are civilians who will be injured by the weapon.

    And of course, even if there are civilians in the building, speaking as a civilian myself I’d rather some smoke and perhaps some phosphorus be flying about if I’m stuck in a building with insurgents/terrorists/insertyourbiashere than if the army just hit the building I’m sadly sharing with those ppl with a few rounds of HE or god forbid a AC-130 gunship.

    http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/weapons.html is a good discussion (brief compared to the UN stuff) on what makes a banned weapon (or not).

    So, if you dropped a WP round on a visible enemy for the purpose of burning them, you’re bad, you should have just dropped an HE or fragmenting round on them, or I suppose just shot them. On the other hand, if they are under cover and you’re dropping some smoke on them, and the effect is they break cover because of the smoke and not because of being burned, its a legit and effective tactic.

    That’s the trick. If you read the material, there are VERY few banned weapons, but rather MANY questions you have to ask yourself about whether use of a particular weapon is warranted. Kinda like the combat shotgun question really. If you’re using birdshot, you’re violating the conventions. If you’re using buckshot you’re fine. Strange, but true. Same gun, same ammunition type, but size of the pellet turns it from a weapon that will maim or superficially injure (bad) into a weapon that can cripple or kill (good).

    Weird stuff really.

    As for the question of whether the use of fire in warfare is legit or not, the answer is a big ‘yes’, if and only if it is consider relatively humane in comparison to its unique ability to achieve an objective. Without bunker buster bombs or rockets, using a flamethrower on a hardened bunker, machinegun nest or gun platform is legitimate, while using one as a replacement for an infantry rifle for general combat would be unacceptable.

    Pacifists and folks focused on human rights without accepting warfare at all are naturally going to be stuck on this issue regardless. The best summary is from that crimes of war link and goes as follows ” In applying the principle against unnecessary suffering and superfluous injury, the military advantages of the weapon must always be weighed against the suffering it causes. After all, the very phrase “unnecessary sufferingâ€? implies that there is such a thing as necessary suffering. A weapon cannot be considered forbidden simply because, in the abstract, it produces great suffering; the military side of the equation must always be considered as well. The literature of humanitarian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) often falls into this error by stressing the inhumane consequences of a weapon’s use, and arguing on that basis alone that the weapon causes unnecessary suffering.”

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  14. Wilson, you and others again twist what’s written in black in white. The article, and admission by the government, that you reference denies using incendiary devices against insurgents. It’s obvious that the military is denying the use of this type of WP if you’d just read it with an unbiased attitude. Here are the clues:

    The word incendiary is used twice to describe what we are denying. The word “napalm” and “napalm-like” (meaning incendiary as well) is used 17 times. It’s obvious, VERY OBVIOUS, that the army is denying the use of this incendiary type of WP, not smoke. Incendiary WP was NOT used in Fallujah, but smoke WP was. The correction posted on the very article you quote even clarifies that.

    I thought for sure I explained that in great detail, but since that was part of what you don’t want to hear, you probably skipped that part.

  15. 11th ACR, Happy Veterans Day to YOU!! Thank you for your service and making it possible for me to serve.

  16. Thank you for your military service, CJ! Happy Veteran’s Day!

    And thanks for your service in contributing to the blogosphere!

  17. CJ, I as well want to thank you. Me and my Sons Thank You and Your Family. I am glad to hear your “invincible to such ghastly concoctions”. We need you. Thank you for every inch you walk and every minute you give.

  18. Hi CJ, I wanted to come over to your place today, and say THANKS for serving our country. May God Bless you today and always. Happy Vetrans Day!
    Each one should use whatever gift he has recieved to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

  19. If WP is so innocuous, then why did the U.S. government lie about its use in Fallujah and elsewhere? The lie was contained in a statement about the WP munitions that read: “They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.”

    Only when the Army’s own publications told the truth did the government change its story.


    It’s just one more in a long string of lies from the government about WMD; Saddam’s “links” to al-Qqaeda; the U.S. commitment to human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan; its denial of torturing enemy combatants and civilians, and so on. Why, the Bush administration’s top people even blew the cover of a spy during wartime, and then went into federal court and committed perjury and obstruction of justice trying to cover up their treason. They can’t be trusted about anything at any time.

    In this war, the U.S. government has lied as effortlessly and as reflexively as most people breathe. Is it any wonder that even FauxNews now says the Lying Sack has barely one-third public support? Is it any wonder that the latest AP poll shows 57% of the public doesn’t think the Liar-in-Chief is honest?

    “The left” hasn’t discredited anyone. The Bush administration has discredited itself and has turned its back on our country. They might as well have joined the other side.

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