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Re: [casi] targeting of water treatment facilities

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There is no reference in the Chapters on targeting of the GWAPS to targeting water treatment 
facilities.  However the GWAPS does state that:
“Coalition planning … was constrained by a conscious desire, originating with President Bush, to 
minimize long-term or permanent damage to Iraq’s economic infrastructure”. The GWAPS does discuss 
why electricity and oil were included among the target sets: Attacking electricity and oil targets 
was “perceived as disrupting the ability of Iraq and its military forces to function”,  and the 
loss of electricity in particular “would degrade Iraqi military capabilities in several key areas”. 
 Meanwhile, attacking oil would prevent back-up generators from being used to turn Iraqi power back 

As regards the question of sensitivity, on the question of electricity, the GWAPS is open about the 
degree to which further damage than was intended was inflicted.  It states that in the case of the 
electric power supply, the air campaign planners did agree that only transformer/switching yards 
and control buildings were to be targets, and not generator halls, boilers and turbines, which 
would result in long-term damage to the infrastructure, and so placed restrictions on these 
components of the electric power system.  However, the GWAPS also reports that these restrictions 
were not always adhered to:

“The self-imposed restriction against hitting generator halls or their contents was not widely 
observed … in large part because the planners elected to go after the majority of Iraq’s 25 major 
power stations and the generator halls offered the most obvious aimpoints.”

The Survey states that this discrepancy between the policy to limit damage, and what actually 
occurred, “illustrates the gap that inevitably exists between specifying a target … and the 
specific aimpoints to be hit there”.  In addition it speaks of the damage to electricity:

“Almost 88 per cent of Iraq’s installed generation capacity was sufficiently damaged or destroyed 
by direct attack, or else isolated from the national grid through strikes on associated 
transformers and switching facilities, to render it unavailable; the remaining 12 per cent … was 
probably unusable other than locally due to damage inflicted on transformers and switching yards.”

The GWAPS therefore openly states where collateral damage was caused beyond the targeting plans 
that were drawn up.  The GWAPS contains nothing about water treatment being a direct target.  Given 
the openness in the report vis a vis targeting electricity, I would be surprised that there would 
be any cover up re. water.  On reflection, I'm incliuned to agree with Eric that attacks on water 
would not be ommitted from discussion. Of course, collateral damage to water treatment facilities 
is possible regardless of it not being a direct target.



 Eric Herring <> wrote:Thanks to Andrew for this. I would emphasise that 
bomb damage to
sewage/water plants does not prove intent to attack such targets. A
large proportion of bombs dropped land off target. My understanding of
GWAPS is that attacks on sewage/water plants would not have been
omitted from discussion due to sensitivity. It would be helpful if Ruth
would say what GWAPS DOES say about sewage/water plants (eg that it had
been decided that they should not be attacked directly). Of course, the
overall effect was the same...


On Fri, 24 Jan 2003 10:28:29 +0000 Andrew Goreing

> Does anyone have any further evidence on the following?
> I read Ruth Blakeley's message (23 Jan, Re: [casi] Dual crisis looms for
> millions in Iraq) with interest and followed up her paper Bomb Now, Die
> Later (available at
> According to Ruth the GWAPS (Gulf War Air Power Surveys) provides no
> evidence that sewage treatment or water purification plants were targeted by
> the 1991 allied air campaign. She discounts the report of Ramsey Clark that
> "In all areas we visited, and all other areas reported to us, municipal
> water processing plants, pumping stations and even reservoirs have been
> bombed".
> Presumably the sentence she quotes from the 1996 WHO report that refers to
> "the extensive destruction of electrical generating plants,
> water-purification and sewage treatment plants during the six-week 1991
> war..."
> does not in her view provide evidence that Allied forces actually bombed
> such plants.
> Obviously, the Allied assault on the Iraqi electrical power infrastructure
> plus the subsequent years of sanctions severely harmed the water
> purification system. Probably no-one on the list is in any doubt about that.
> But is there persuasive evidence that water-treatment plants were actually
> bombed?
> Obvious issues --
> Were there undisputed reports of HE damage at such plants?
> Could such damage have come from Iraqi ordnance?
> The GWAPS happily admits to intentional destruction of the electrical
> system; however admission of attacks on water facilities (had there been
> any) would be a rather more sensitive matter, one would have thought.
> Andrew Goreing
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Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133

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Ruth J Blakeley
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