Gen. Pace: "A bullet goes through skin even faster than white phosphorus does"

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The purpose of white phosphorous

Good evening, Media Girl.

The words of General Pace are telling, and it troubles me that the discussion of weapons like white phosphorous occurs without a clarity about the purpose of various weapons.

You see, the term "smokescreen" carries complex meaning. The modern battlefield created by a sophisticated force is very quickly endowed of a matrix of weapons, each with a specific purpose: the simple automatic rifle constructs a risk factor for opposing soldiers in open movement. Artillery shells disabuse the enemy of territory advance and destroy structures in or behind which enemy soldiers and their weapons can find safety for defensive or offensive operations.

White phosphorous exists within the inventory to illuminate terrain; but if that were its sole or primary purpose, other agents could be more or less as effective. White phosphorous is incendiary, which increases its usefulness because it can be used to ignite targets in a way that non-incendiary or point-incendiary (certain ordnance and bulllets, for example) cannot.

But even stating that, the greatest importance of it is missed. You see, it burns, and it doesn't burn just buildings: it burns humans. Whether they are combatants or innocents caught in cross-fire, it creates one of the most important of all possible effects in enemy ranks.

It creates chaos. People wounded by bullets and artillery shells are likely to die swiftly. Those surviving may complicate battlefield plans, but the wounded can be managed in summary fashion by a relatively well-trained corps.

But burn victims are wholly another matter. They scream; they run while they're on fire; they burst back into flames when they're being treated; the stench of their flesh is overwhelming; and most importantly, they don't die for quite a while.

They create chaos.

And the more of them that get burned, the more that chaos becomes the characterizing feature of the enemy's battlefield as we shape it to our advantage.

Yes, war is Hell; but more to the point, we have become that monstrous, fallen angel that has once again brought Hell to the Earth for no other reason than that we wanted to.

It is the hallmark of men like those in power that they cry for war, design their vision of the future upon it as the predicate to all things they could want, and yet never have to experience with their own eyes and their own flesh.

The five-and-dime plastic soldiers in Washington will be able to live out their miserable times on this Earth without ever having to go through the sliding door of their gumballs-and-graphic novels shop to see the smokescreen billowing in acrid clouds of smoke to see, burning bodies to smell, and shrieking humans to hear.

The Dark Wraith wishes you well, Media Girl.

Dark Wraith's picture
Posted by Dark Wraith (not verified) on 30 November 2005 - 6:57pm
Thanks for the well wishes

Even if they are in a post about white phosphorous. ;)

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 30 November 2005 - 11:20pm