Friday, September 16, 2005

Details, details

Over the past few days, try as I might, I never did find any mainstream reporting that described what actually happened in Tal Afar during or after U.S. air strikes. As I noted in an earlier post, the Washington Post reporter, given a chance to describe the trashing of Tal Afar with weeks of air strikes, chose instead to focus on Fight Club antics of bored U.S. troops.

For Tal Afar, I give up for the moment on finding real news, but I cling to this notion (one that might well be wrong): what the U.S. did to Falluja last year, they're doing to Tal Afar this month. If someone has proof to the contrary, I'd be glad to hear it. So I'm looking into accounts of Falluja and assuming Tal Afar is proceeding in a similar fashion. My goal is to find concrete details of what these medieval sieges (with air support) are really like.

With the use of some creative and you might properly call leading Google strings, I was able to find this piece, using the terms "falluja" and "scream." I was looking for the Madeline Bunting piece cited earlier. I stumbled upon this, from a U.S. soldier writing under the name of hEkLe:
As the evening wore on and the artillery continued, a new gruesome roar filled the sky.

The fighter jets were right on time and made their grand appearance with a series of massive air strikes. Between the pernicious bombs and fierce artillery, the sky seemed as though it were on fire for several minutes at a time. First, you would see a blaze of light in the horizon, like lightning hitting a dynamite warehouse, and then hear the massive explosion that would turn your stomach, rattle your eyeballs and compress itself deep within your lungs. Although these massive bombs were being dropped no further than five kilometers away, it felt like it was happening right in front of your face.

At first, it was impossible not to flinch with each unexpected boom, but after scores of intense explosions, your senses became aware and complacent towards them.

At times, the jets would scream menacingly low over the city and open fire with smaller missiles meant for extreme accuracy. This is what Top Gun, in all its glory and silver screen acclaim, seemed to be lacking in the movie’s high budget sound effects.

These air-deployed missiles make a banshee-like squeal, sort of like a bottle rocket fueled with plutonium, and then suddenly would become inaudible. Seconds later, the colossal explosion would rip the sky open and hammer devastatingly into the ground, sending flames and debris pummeling into the air.

And as always, the artillery--some rounds were high explosive, some were illumination rounds, some were reported as being white phosphorus (the modern-day napalm).

Occasionally, on the outskirts of the isolated impact area, you could hear tanks firing machine guns and blazing their cannons. It was amazing that anything could survive this deadly onslaught. Suddenly, a transmission came over the radio approving the request for “bunker-busters.” Apparently, there were a handful of insurgent compounds that were impenetrable by artillery. At the time, I was unaware when these bunker-busters were deployed, but I was told later that the incredibly massive explosions were a direct result of these “final solution”-type missiles.

I continued to watch the final assault on Falluja throughout the night from atop my humvee.

It was interesting to scan the vast skies above with night-vision goggles. Circling continuously overhead throughout the battle was an array of attack helicopters. The most devastating were the Cobras and Apaches with their chain-gun missile launchers.

Through the night vision, I could see them hovering around the carnage, scanning the ground with an infrared spotlight that seemed to reach for miles. Once a target was identified, a rapid series of hollow blasts would echo through the skies, and from the ground came a “rat-a-tatting” of explosions, like a daisy chain of supercharged black cats during a Fourth of July barbeque.

More artillery, more tanks, more machine gun fire, ominous death-dealing fighter planes terminating whole city blocks at a time...this wasn’t a war, it was a massacre!
Read the whole piece, and check out GI Special, where it originally appeared....

1 comment:

Deb said...

Interesting! Deb Nutrition