Air Weapons: A Whole Lot More of Less

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January 21, 2008: The coalition air forces in Iraq (mainly the U.S. Air Force, but also U.S. Navy, Marines and British Royal Air Force), dropped a lot more bombs in 2007 (over 1,500) compared to 2006 (under 200). There were two reasons for this. First, intelligence efforts have uncovered a lot more targets in remote locations. In urban fighting, when there are a lot of civilians around, soldiers and marines prefer to use missiles and portable rockets, or GPS guided artillery shells and rockets. All of these contain less explosives than the smallest air weapon (the 250 pound SDB, with 51 pounds of explosives). But out in the countryside, bigger is often better.

The second reason was more offensive operations. This was the "surge", which put five more infantry brigades in Iraq, and generally turned loose most of the twenty U.S. brigades over there. Growing numbers, and capabilities, of Iraqi security forces, freed many of the American troops from security work. Going after the Islamic terror groups meant many of the bad guys were flushed out of their safe houses and urban hide outs. When they holed up in a farmhouse somewhere, a GPS guided bomb was the easiest solution to the problem. These bombs were also used to hit known bomb workshops and weapons storage sites.

Despite the increased use of aerial bombing, civilian casualties were miniscule. By historical standards, there has never been a war this intense, that produced so few civilian casualties. Over 90 percent of Iraqi civilian deaths have been at the hands of Islamic terrorist groups, who use suicide bombers and death squads to slaughter those who disagree with them. While Vietnam saw thousands of civilians dying each month, for years on end, as "collateral damage" from aerial bombs, Iraq gets a few dozen such deaths a month, at most. Until the development of smart bombs, you had to drop a hundred or more bombs to hit one specific target. In Vietnam, over ten million bombs were dropped, that's over a million bombs a year. In Iraq, about a thousand bombs a year were dropped. It makes a difference.

 


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