Updated on April 19, 2010
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.
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.