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: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/05/world/main4235028.shtml 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.Read the full post and comments »