Logistics: Costly Compassion


July 14, 2007: A major reason why it's costing $10 billion a month to maintain American forces in Iraq, are the very expensive weapons that are used there. Guided missiles have saved a lot of American, and Iraqi, lives. The Javelin and TOW anti-tank missiles cost $80,000 and $180,000 each, respectively. Each of these missiles can be fired through a window or door several kilometers distant. The relatively small warheads will kill everyone in the room on the other side of the window, but not so people in adjacent buildings. This saves a lot of civilian lives. American forces don't get much credit for keeping civilian ("collateral") casualties down. Compared with previous wars (Vietnam, Korea, World War II), far fewer (like 90 percent fewer) civilians are getting killed in the urban battles. The precision weapons enable U.S. troops to take down enemy troops much more quickly as well.

This pattern was detected by the troops early on. Actually, it was noted during the 1991 Gulf War, when only a few percent of the bombs were smart (guided) bombs, but they did most of the damage to the enemy, and caused the fewest civilian casualties along the way. Twelve years later, there were hardly any dumb bombs used, and far more, higher quality (and more expensive) missiles available. But all this has come at a cost, and the cost is in the billions of dollars for dozens of different types of guided munitions (including GPS guided artillery shells and rockets).

The troops aren't complaining, and those who are, just don't understand.


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