Page: Richard's Blog
Jul 22nd, 2010 by Richard Lowry
Fallujah birth defects


For months now, I have been reading post after post on the internet about “American war crimes in Fallujah.” I have carefully read many of these articles. Many show photos and videos of horribly disfigured children and now many are citing studies that indicate a higher rate of still births and birth defects than is normal in other parts of the world. These statistics, photographs and videos are disturbing but I have never read one credible connection to the Coalition’s fight to free Fallujah from the grip of murderers, criminals and al Qaeda terrorists.

Many of the people posting point to the United States Military’s use of depleted uranium. As a military historian, I am familiar with the US Army and Marines use of DU weapons. Before the Gulf War in 1991, the American military was preparing for a Soviet Armored assault into Europe. At the time, the Soviets had thousands of tanks. So, in response to this threat, the United States developed many tank-killing weapons.

You have to be able to punch through several inches of high-tech armor in order to disable a tank. So, American engineers searched for a high density coating that was stronger than steel. They developed SABOT tank rounds for the new M1 tank. A SABOT round is a canister filled with a projecting charge that can hurl a high-density dart at supersonic speeds toward its target. That high-density dart is a solid depleted uranium and titanium alloy rod.

The A-10 Thunderbolt was armed with a 30mm cannon that could also shoot DU rounds. Our Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Light Armored vehicles also had the capability to kill tanks with 25mm DU rounds. Our military stockpiled DU ammunition in Europe to repel a massive armored assault.

Then, in 1991, the US Army and Marines faced five Iraqi Republican Guard divisions ladened with Soviet tanks. A-10 aircraft and M1 tanks killed hundreds of Iraqi tanks with DU and SABOT rounds.

In 2003, we faced Iraqi armored divisions again, so A-10s roamed the skies ahead of the American invasion and M1 Abrams tanks probably carried some SABOT rounds (although, I have no personal data describing tank ammunition loads during the initial invasion). The 2003 invasion force stayed far away from Fallujah. Baghdad and Tikrit were the targets.

I spent three years researching the battles for Fallujah. I have spoken to tankers, Light Armored Vehicle Marines and Bradley commanders and I have obtained logistic reports. Nowhere, in all my extensive research, have I found a single piece of data to indicate that SABOT or DU rounds were even carried in the armored vehicles that were used in Fallujah. Furthermore, no A-10s were ever used in Fallujah.

My research not withstanding, it makes no military sense to employ DU munitions in an urban environment. They are tank-killing weapons and the enemy had no armored vehicles in Fallujah. A DU projectile would travel through wall-after-wall, leaving a golf cup size hole. They wouldn’t do much damage and would do little more than scare the enemy. The benefits of using DU would not justify the expense.

So, lets all drop the discussion of DU causing all the birth defects in Fallujah. It is fantasy.

That begs the question. What could have caused this tragedy? Let me refer you all to an article I found many months ago produced by CBS News: Tuwaitha is less than 50 miles from Fallujah. Is it possible that Saddam wreaked this havoc on his own people?


Since 9/11, Richard S. Lowry’s mission has been to tell as many of these stories as is possible. He has strived to tell the stories of decorated heroes and of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, as well as just plain ordinary men and women who are serving their nation in these turbulent times. He has recorded the story of Operation Desert Storm and the 2003 battle of Nasiriyah in three published books. Now, he is about to release his most compelling book yet. New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah. It tells the story of America’s sons and daughters at war in the 21st Century. It tells the story of the largest fight of the war in Iraq. It is the first book to tell the entire story of Operation Phantom Fury and it honors many of the men and women who fought to free Fallujah. Their sacrifices turned the tide of the war in Iraq.

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Jul 14th, 2010 by Richard Lowry
New Dawn Update


A Gold Star Mother recently thanked me for telling her son’s story. She went on to say, “My biggest fear was that he would be forgotten.”

New Dawn tells the stories of our brave young men and women at war half a world away. Ed Iwan, Jason Clairday, Antoine Smith, Chris Adlesperger and Kevin Shea will all live forever in the pages of New Dawn. Please help me to tell their stories to the American people. Go to my facebook page. Post links to my sites. Tell your frineds. Buy a book and then post a review on the site of your choice.

New Dawn tells a story you will never forget.

New Dawn has already been nominated for the 2011 Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s ‘General Wallace M. Greene Award.’ The award is given to non-fiction writers who excel in telling the story of the United States Marine Corps.

In addition, New Dawn has been nominated for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in History.

My most honored endorsement recently came from a Marine Sergeant. He called me to tell me, “Your book is friggin awesome.” He went on to say, “I was there and it is ‘spot-on.’”









Thank you all for your continued support.

Semper Fidelis,

Richard S. Lowry

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Jul 6th, 2010 by Richard Lowry
Success in Afghanistan requires tough fighting, hard work and attention to detail

Afghan Army Graduation

In this era of 21st Century counterinsurgent warfare, victory will lie in our ability to provide a better future for the everyday Afghan citizen. Most importantly, we need to build a safe environment for Afghan families to build their own future. There are not enough American soldiers, sailors and Marines in our entire armed forces to provide this security.  Even if there were, we do not have the resources, desire, or the support of the Afghan people to stay in Afghanistan forever.

Thus, it is imperative that we help to build an Afghan army and police force so that they can protect their own people and provide a long-lasting, stable environment. Not all of our troops are on the front lines in Afghanistan. Many are working very hard to help the Afghan people in ways that are not reported by the media. We only hear that there are large numbers of deserters and that the Afghan army can not operate on its own.   While true today, what has not been reported is that the Americans and Afghans are working together to build a new Afghan army – a capable and professional organization that will be able to provide stability in its nation.

An army cannot be built overnight. It must be built one leader at a time. It is easy to recruit privates, but very difficult to produce competent sergeants and captains. So, behind the scenes, there is a huge unreported effort to build that capability.

I recently spoke with Brigadier General Gary Patton. He is the deputy commander-Army, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command. We talked about the ongoing work to build the new Afghan army. “…what we do is generate and sustain and develop leaders for the Afghan National Army.” General Patton told the participants of the July 2nd Blogger’s Roundtable:

Since the time NTMA stood up in November 2009, to give you an idea of the amount of forces that have been generated — and by that I mean created from scratch, brand-new units, and then added to the Afghan National Army have been one corps headquarters, five brigade headquarters, 13 infantry battalions, three support battalions for logistics, two commando battalions, 42 infantry companies and four special forces teams. In addition, there have been some MP companies and some various other units, but those are the big units.

He went on to say:

And now, just in the past month …we saw a growth in the Afghan army of 4,191. And that puts them at a total strength of 129,885. That number is significant because it’s more than 6,000 above the milestone…And many of you know that our growth milestone for the end of October is 134,000; so we’re within about 4,000 of meeting the end-of-October milestone, which means we’re ahead of schedule in terms of growing the Afghan army.

Numbers alone will not improve the effectiveness of the Afghan army. General Patton admits that there is a continuing shortfall in commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The Afghan army must have leaders. Developing competent leadership is tough when only 14% of the Afghan population is literate. So, in addition to training soldiers, NTMA is also providing literacy training. All recruits receive basic literacy training and the top ten percent are sent to an additional four weeks of literacy and military training. Graduates of the Team Leader course are promoted to corporal.

If a recruit shows leadership potential and he can pass a literacy test at the third-grade level, he is enrolled in 12 weeks of additional training in the 1-U course. These NCOs graduate as staff sergeants. Patton told us:

Four weeks from now we’ll see about 3,300 new NCOs. And then we’ll repeat that over and over again. And so by doing that, combined with battlefield promotions…we hope to make up that 12,000 NCO deficit, as we grow the army, by about October or November of 2011.

A strong, capable Afghan army will take increasingly more responsibility for the security of the Afghan people.  As that happens, American troops can reduce their combat operations and transition to a supporting role until we are confident that the Afghan army can operate independently and in a professional manner. Then, and only then, can we begin to draw down our force in Afghanistan. If all this sounds familiar, it is exactly what we accomplished in Iraq.

Already, we are seeing combined Coalition/Afghan successes. On July 4th, the IJC Public Affairs Office reported:

Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), along with ISAF partners recently completed several operations across Afghanistan. These operations were intended to protect the Afghan population by disrupting insurgents’ ability to fund and conduct operations against civilians, ANSF, and Coalition forces.

On Thursday morning, an ANSF-led patrol came under attack from insurgents as they entered a remote village in southern Helmand.  A large number of insurgents were killed and the patrol discovered 5,700 kilograms of narcotics, large weapons caches complete with ammunition, and IED construction and storage facilities.  The narcotics were destroyed before they could be sold to fund insurgent attacks, along with the weapons, ammunition, IEDs and IED components.  Additionally, a Taliban detention facility was discovered and 14 Afghan civilians were freed and protected by the ANSF-led patrol, while several insurgents were detained.  No women or children were present in the village.

On Friday, an ANSF, ISAF combined force stopped a vehicle at a check point in Ghazni province.  Thirteen 107mm rocket warheads were seized and destroyed before they could be used against Afghan civilians, ANSF, or Coalition forces.

Early Saturday morning, the senior Taliban commander for Nad-e-Ali district was killed in an ANSF and ISAF combined operation.  The insurgent was known to have planned and conducted numerous suicide and roadside bombings against the Afghan people.

“These partnered operations were aimed directly at denying insurgents the funding and material they need to carry out attacks against Afghan civilians, ANSF, and international forces,” said Lt. Col. Todd Vician, an ISAF Joint Command spokesman.

No civilians were injured in any of these operations.

We still have a long road ahead in Afghanistan, but if we continue our commitment, we will start seeing more and more successes. And with those successes, we will bring security and hope to the Afghan people. And, hope is the weapon that will win this war.

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