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[casi] FWD: [DU-WATCH] UMRC report from Iraq (part 2 of installment 1)

>===== Original Message From Piotr Bein <> =====
[disseminate to your networks, watch for next parts]
Abu Khasib to Al Ah’qaf: Iraq Gulf War II Field Investigations Report
© Uranium Medical Research Centre
November 2003

Part 2 of Installment 1

Overall impressions

·       Reports and conditions on the ground

Order of Battle CentCom reports and “embedded reporters” coverage was found
to be about 70% unreliable when compared to the situation and evidence on
the ground. Differences were noted in the geographic locations (place names)
and reported to be the scene of head-to-head combat. Press coverage
exaggerated the scale and stubbornness of the Iraqi armoured forces and
organised military defences.

Witnesses, whose reports were corroborated by observations of active
battlefields, show that Iraqi organised defences quickly deteriorated to
low-intensity guerrilla fighting much earlier than reported - within the
first 4 or 5 days of battle. Observers report that ground force engagements,
characterised by the embedded reporters as “stiff resistance”, rarely
persisted beyond a few minutes to hours. Many Iraqi tanks were defeated
while in retreat. Anti-aircraft and artillery defences were helpless against
stand-off infrared, heat and radar seeking rockets. There were little to no
substantive infantry defences. Pentagon pre-conflict assertions of Iraqi
armed forces strength and inventories of battle-ready equipment were not
substantiated by local reports, witnesses to the battles and interviews of
retired Iraqi military personnel and civilian leaders.

The majority of Iraqi armoured assets were too old to withstand US and
British modern ordnance; many of these assets were placed in the field as
decoys and tactical facades. Serviceable heavy-armoured Iraqi assets were
placed in fixed, immobile defensive positions behind sand-berms – rarely
taking the offensive. According to witnesses, serviceable tanks, armoured
vehicles and anti-aircraft emplacements surviving standoff rocketing and
precision artillery fire were abandoned at the first sight of advancing
air-cavalry and mechanised infantry. The few major tank-to-tank engagements
evidenced by the conditions and size of the battlefields were short in
duration – a matter of minutes. The main prolonged armoured engagements were
reported as being in Al Basra, An Nasiriyah, the southern approach to
Baghdad and the International Airport. The reports generally correspond to
the larger battlefields identified by the team.

Residential neighbourhoods inside Baghdad that served as shields and
camouflage for Iraqi armoured divisions were destroyed by combat aircraft
days before Coalition ground forces arrived. Airforce bases were abandoned
before the opening of the conflict as Iraqi aircraft were destroyed well
before the ground advance. Haiyy-al Mavalemeen, a large residential
neighbourhood adjacent to the unoccupied Al Rashid Air Force Base was turned
to rubble by Coalition combat aircraft using stand-off ordnance. Although it
remains upright, the minaret of the Mosque of Imam Abu Hanifa (Baghdad), one
of the most important of the many historical and religious sites was
rocketed by an combat aircraft. Coalition “trolling missions” fired blind
and unprovoked into buildings and homes to draw out the enemy. Reports
indicate extensive bombing continued well beyond the decline of local
(paramilitary) resistance, which was largely eliminated by the end of the
second week of the invasion. Aerial bombing sites and frequencies reveal a
persistent effort to demoralise civilians and discourage unorganised
resistance. Most Iraqis remained cloistered in their homes for the duration
of both phases of battle (air and ground). Surprisingly few refugees left
the cities to cross the main corridor left open for this eventuality -- over
the western desert to seek protection at UN, ICRC/RC, and Jordanian
campsites set up on the borders in expectation of an exodus. Reports reveal
that more Iraqis entered the country during the conflict than left.

The largest intact battlefield located by UMRC was found in Abu Khasib at
the approach to Al Basra. This engagement was fought by the British Desert
Rats and 7th Mechanised Combat Division, with materiel supply by the 2 Close
Support Regiment. The battlefield held the largest concentration of Iraqi
tanks found by the team, outside Baghdad. An intelligence miscalculation
about the Iraqi defensive positions in and around Al Basra, combined with an
error in planning nearly spelled disaster for the British. Refusing a US
offer of close in air support, the British initially resisted the US Rapid
Dominance strategy in favour of a head-to-head confrontation. After meeting
the strongest and best-organised Iraqi defences in the entire engagement,
the British quickly changed tactics.

Under the code name, Operation James (styled on the mythical Hollywood
character, James Bond, and using such place names as “pussy”, “gold-finger
and “galore” on the commander’s maps at Operation Telic HQ, Qatar), the
British faced an unusually committed and unexpected, well organised Iraqi
defence. Since the Battle for Basra took place within the first 72 hours of
Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iraqi forces surrounding Al Basra had not been
psychologically demoralised or mechanically weakened by Shock and Awe aerial
bombing. Aerial bombing of Basra was intentionally limited to facilitate the
formation of anti-Sadaam alliances with the local Shia leadership. All
factors intersected, resulting in one of the most prolonged conventional
ground, mechanised forces engagements in the 26 days of battle. The centre
of the battle was in a suburb called Abu Khasib. Abu Khasib is the most
radioactive battlefield identified by UMRC’s 13 days of radiation surveys.
The larger diameter, tank armour penetration channels emit ionising
radiation readings ~2,500 X’s the reference level. Some areas of Basra
present background radioactivity ~20 X’s the reference level.

·       Rapid Dominance

Every Iraqi heavy-armoured asset inspected by the UMRC team showed the
effects and marks of having received fire. About 1 of Iraq’s main battle
tanks (MBT’s) investigated – Pentagon estimates were 2,500 serviceable Iraqi
tanks – were defeated by radioactive weapons. The physical features of the
penetration channels, trajectories and armoured target effects reveal four
different sizes (diameters) and three types of radioactive armour
penetrating ordnance: (1) inert, (2) incendiary and (3) high explosive.

·       Shock and Awe

Radiation surveys of the Shock and Awe bombing do not reveal the same
pattern of contamination or concentrations of radioactive source-material
present in the “hotspots” of the Rapid Dominance, ground combat areas. The
Basra and Baghdad baselines for total radioactivity on soil surfaces and
ambient air are markedly elevated over North American standard reference
levels. Radiation spatially associated with Shock and Awe bombsites and
surrounding neighbourhoods range from the wide-area elevated Baghdad
background up to ~3 X’s the Baghdad baseline.

·       Quantities of uranium munitions deployed (Figure 2)

The April 2003, US CENTAF (Central Airforce Command) post-conflict report,
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - By the Numbers, a desk-study by a US veterans
advocate, and a letter solicited from a US Senator conclude that 30-mm
rounds fired by A-10 Thunderbolts constitute the highest fraction of DU
munitions deployed in Gulf War II. These reports admittedly include only
partial and limited accountings of the depleted uranium ordnance delivered
by tactical combat platforms (i.e. gun-ships and mechanised infantry). They
do not provide any information on the going-in inventories and pre-existing
US and UK Telic stockpiles. There is a significant discrepancy between the
independent reports that rely on official government and defence department
numbers (i.e. 100 – 200 metric tonnes) and the 1000 to 2000 metric tonnes of
DU attributed to estimates by unnamed United Nations Environment Program and
Pentagon sources.

Figure 2

Published estimates of quantities of uranium munitions

1.      24 Imperial Tons (21.8 Metric Tonnes). U.S. Army data related by U.S.
Senator Jon Kyle, U.S. Senator, Chair of the Republican Policy Committee, in
a letter to J. Cohen-Joppa, July 14, 2003.
2.      100 – 200 Metric Tonnes – D. Fahey, The Use of Depleted Uranium in the
2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies, June 24,
3.      68 Metric Tonnes (75 Imperial Tons), representing calculations based on %
of DU rounds loaded in total fired rounds of 300,000 by A-10 Thunderbolt.
Reported interview of unnamed CentCom spokesperson, Christian Science
Monitor, May 15, 2003.
4.      311,597 30-mm rounds, T M Mosley, USAF, By the Numbers, Operation Iraqi
Freedom, Assessment and Analysis Division, USAF, April 2003.
5.      1,000 – 2,000 metric tonnes (1,100 – 2,200 imperial tons), posted in
Associated Press article, The Environment in the News, UNEP Environmental
Press Release Reports, Communications and Public Information, United Nations
Environment Program, Associated Press, April 2003.

Conditions in Iraq

Iraqis are familiar with the fact that uranium weapons were deployed during
Gulf War I and over the years have developed a fear of exposure.  A history
of unexplained illnesses and chronic health problems in communities affected
by DU deployed in Gulf War I and perhaps later by ordnance used in
Operations’ Desert Fox and Desert Strike is widely attributed to Coalition
weapons. A portion of the population is convinced radiological contamination
is a permanent feature of the Iraqi environment. Many say this is why they
want to leave the country.

Since Operation Iraqi Freedom combat ceased, physicians are preoccupied with
the treatment of a widely experienced public health crisis due to rampant
viral and bacterial diseases – explained by the disruption of the clean
water supply, power generation failures and a decade of decline in health
care resulting from the embargo. Doctors and hospitals are busy treating
wounds and tending recuperating civilians injured by collateral damage and
wounded Iraqi armed forces’ members. The decline in the nation’s central
health care system was preceded by a severe decline of the national
decentralised public health program. The few, very limited national and
community health resources are dedicated to emergency services. Physicians
are neither trained to nor have the time and facilities to diagnose the
relatively unexplained illnesses derived from uranium internal contamination
and acute effects from recent exposures. Longer-term effects present a
different challenge. As widely reported, cancer and long-term treatment
wards are filled with children and teenagers suffering leukaemia and
incapacitating congenital deformities attributed locally and by many
international sources as direct and inherited effects of uranium

Unemployment levels in major urban areas exceed 70% to 80%. Those employed
receive salaries 20% to 30% of pre-war income levels. There is a robust
underground economy, the trading and bartering of goods and services, but it
is cash poor. A new social and economic elite is comprised of those engaged
in selling goods and services to the Coalition, business and government
operations permitted to function by the Coalition, and those few commercial
and civil organisations linked to the Coalition-sponsored, Governing
Council. The Coalition is refusing many businesses and factories the permits
to resume business activities. The largest group of newly employed and the
widest distribution of US dollars is to the IP (the Coalition controlled,
newly formed and fast swelling ranks of Iraqi Police).

The narrow and short economic supply-chain is insufficient to trickle
resources or cash down and out to the majority of unemployed Iraqis.
Contrary to disparaging western press reports about local Iraqi looting and
rampant civil disruptions by “loyalists and rebels”, Iraq is experiencing
the brunt of pre-planned, organised crime, raping the country of its
liquidable assets. For example, sponsored from adjacent countries, Iraq
suffered organised and well-finance theft (demonstrated by witnessed convoys
of heavy equipment and transport trucks) of thousands of kilometres of
high-voltage power transmission cables – dismantled and sold for their
copper and aluminium content.

In deference to overly enthusiastic and badly researched western press
reports claiming wide-scale, disorganised looting and vandalism, Iraq has
been systematically dismantled. A second organised program of theft
extracted tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of pre-cast, galvanised
steal door and window frames, virtually destroying in the process, every
undefended government, military, state enterprise and private commercial
building in the country. This program began before the launch of OIF and
continued until the Coalition became organised, well after the end of the
combat phase of the war. Building materials were loaded and transported on
commercial trucks under the watchful eyes of the Coalition, taken to
neighbouring countries and reserved for resale – pending the planned,
multi-billion dollar urban renewal program. The crime was very
sophisticated; using decoy tactics of setting fires, indiscriminate high
profile looting designed to feed western video cameras, and inciting riots
to attract security forces. Supervised theft succeeded in destroying all
major buildings in Baghdad (that survived the bombing), collecting all heavy
equipment, construction and building materials’ stockpiles, heating, air
conditioning, plumbing and electrical equipment and all commercial and
government inventories. This theft was deterred only where Iraqis made a
concerted effort to defend their personal businesses, protect public
property and their homes. Iraqis complain and accuse the Coalition of
intentionally facilitating the theft and looting, refusing to protect homes,
businesses and government facilities.

Economic problems and systemic disruptions of critical civilian
infrastructure plague Iraq. The general population in urban areas reserve
their few remaining resources for the purchase of food, school supplies,
building materials, inflated gasoline prices, medicine, automobile repair
and other goods and services elemental to survival. Although better equipped
to ride out economic declines, the rural populations have also suffered from
the embargo and the past decade of continuous bombing of the government and
civilian infrastructure. Iraq’s second largest city, Basra, is the most
severely disaffected and impoverished urban community in the nation –
appearing much as it did during the Iran-Iraq War – destroyed by eight years
of continuous artillery barrage exacerbated by the recent British artillery
bombardments. Basra was abandoned by Sadaam Husein’s government for siding
with the Coalition after Gulf War I. Inaccurate and politically divisive
western press coverage has claimed that the south was abandoned due to a
religious difference between Sunni’s and Shia. In fact, the southern,
eastern and western rural areas of Iraq were the first to experience losses
due to the embargo – as wealth and resources were concentrated in the
capital. Most of the country and the rural populations are situated inside
the pre-war US-controlled, northern and southern non-fly zones, which
rendered the areas ungovernable. The economic impact of the trade and
technology embargo coupled with 13 years of bombing and experimental weapons
’ testing in the no-fly zones brought most of Iraq’s civilian population -
other than in Baghdad and the NATO-protectorate in the northern Kurdish
communities -- into poverty and a subsistence lifestyle.

[installment 1 to be continued]

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