Skip to main content

When some professionals in the Defense Technology Industry call a weapon "massively brutal" and call the quiet roll-out of this anti-precision bomb a "lousy strategy" - you know it must be bad.

(found via www.gizmodo.com)
Apparently these weapons (called NE or "Novel Explosive") are a variation of Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapons currently in use.  These new weapons use "Thermobaric explosions" which set fire to the air by injecting a fine, flammable mist that ignites in a massive fireball and pressure wave strong enough to collapse a structure.  The mist will travel around corners, making it particularly difficult to control or escape from.  In addition, anyone not killed or crushed in the initial concussion will die from asphyxiation as all the oxygen is sucked from the surrounding air.

These weapons have already been cited by Human Rights Watch as inhumane and "comparable to low-yield nuclear munitions".  HRW also has an unpleasant description of exactly how anyone caught in such a blast would die (comparing it, unfortunately, to chemical agents).

Larger versions have been used as "bunker busters" in the past.  The significant thing here is that they are now being used in urban settings where it is difficult to control and "virtually impossible for civilians to take shelter".

When you combine this with the previous news on the chemical weapons nature of "White Phosphorus" use, it looks even worse for U.S. military ethics.  

Just when you think you're going to peg your Outrage Meter, you discover it has a logarithmic scale...

Originally posted to TechBob on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:34 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  asdf (none)
    I'm not for certain, but this sounds like a modern day "fuel air bomb."  Variations of these have been used (by many countries) since about WW2, IIRC.  
    •  I think the problem (none)
      is that it's a shoulder fired weapon designed for urban use, rather than a 15,000 lb bomb.

      congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

      by bartman on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 12:44:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly, they can retrofit obsolete ordinance (none)
        and use it anywhere with the same indescriminate collateral damage as the very large bombs.  That and the toxicity of the volatiles used is what's new here.

        The myth of "smart bombs" and "precision strikes" needs to be punctured.  These weapons are designed to terrorize the enemy by their nature - hence part of their effectiveness.  Don't get me wrong, I want our troops to be well armed; but when you add this to the other deliberate deceptions and evasions around this war - I'm having serious "Viet Nam deja vu"....

  •  This new thing (none)
    This 'Sword' is barbaric!  It slices open the body, allowing the intestines to spill out...  This is a horrible way to die, and should never be built.  Our Clubs are much more humane

    This New thing, This 'Gun'  The bullet invades the body violently, entire limbs can be removed leaving the poor soul to die in pain, this thing should never be built.  Our swords are much more humane.

    This new thing, This 'Bomb'.  It falls from the sky and kills like a thief in the night, there is no defense, it is evil.  Our guns are much more humane.

    This new thing, This "Novel Explosive"...

    There will never be an end to the ways found to kill, and unless the military can convince their enemies line up for a lethal injection there will never be a humane way to die in war.

    And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo, everyday you see quite a few

    by Ageredon on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 12:18:28 PM PST

    •  Your point? (none)
         Early guns didn't occasion much comment, because they were slow and somewhat impractical weapons, with nothing like the lethality of modern guns, and must have seemed at first like a minor addition to an already impressive array of siege machinery.
         The introduction of aërial bombardment, however, did occasion a great deal of comment, and was widely regarded as inhumane and a huge step backwards in the increasing barbarization of war.  And those critics were right.  It is important not to forget this.  Just because complaints go back a long way does not mean that they are wrong.  Since the Napoleonic Wars, each new technological advance has made war increasingly horrible, has tended to involve civilians more and more instead of being fought between professionals.  It's not responsible to throw up our hands and say "oh, nothing can be done about it".  Peace activists successfully made politicans think twice about casually using nuclear weapons.  The same thing should be done for every other new weapon, especially those that increasingly target civilians; the less this junk finds its way onto battlefields, the better off we will all be.
    •  Ridiculous (none)
      How about nukes?  Are they fungible wih guns and knives?  Could it be that the issue is not just how the thing kills its victims, but how many it kills indiscriminately?  This attitude, which I see way too much of on dKos for my taste, that "war is hell" so quit your belly-aching, is rank hypocrisy.  Were you outraged by the beheading videos?  Saddam gassing his people? Why, man, if it's just another way of killing.  You're just as dead when it's over.

      "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

      by scorponic on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 12:41:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ridiculous (none)
      How about nukes?  Are they fungible wih guns and knives?  Could it be that the issue is not just how the thing kills its victims, but how many it kills indiscriminately?  This attitude, which I see way too much of on dKos for my taste, that "war is hell" so quit your belly-aching, is rank hypocrisy.  Were you outraged by the beheading videos?  Saddam gassing his people? Why, man, if it's just another way of killing.  You're just as dead when it's over.

      "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

      by scorponic on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 12:42:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the thing is (none)
      that it can/is/will be used on civilian populations in urban environments. is it better or worse than anything else? in my view it is more akin to chemical weapons than to conventional weapons as the civilian population has no escape.

      of course the real arguments are that war is terrible and should not be entered into lightly and that iraq was a mistake. given the fact that we will not leave iraq soon, can't we at least control what weapons we use and how many civilians we kill? if not then why not just go whole hog and use the neutron bomb or other nuclears?

      the other message that this sends to potential us enemies in the future is that they should just use whatever chemical and bio weapons they have as they will ultimately be subjected to the same or similar weaponry by the us.

  •  The 'fuel' in these fuel-air thermobaric bombs (none)
    is ethylene oxide  or propylene oxide, according one of your links on vacuum-bombs.

    These gaseous epoxides are highly lethal chemicals in and of themselves, even if they do not ignite.

    They are potent alkylating agents (like mustard gas) and will blister the lungs if breathed even in low concentrations

    from Wikipedia

    Some fuels used, such as ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic. A device using such fuels is very dangerous even if the fuel fails to ignite; the device then becomes essentially a chemical weapon.
  •  Russian Army in Chechnya (none)
    The Russians haved used fuel-air munitions in Chechnya (though I think they only used air-launched and not shoulder-mounted missiles).

    Global Security has an interesting page on these weapons-- check out the pictures at the bottom of the page.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/...

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site