August 11, 2003


Good piece on Canadians in Kabul. Choice quote: "The Germans have dubbed the place Camp Krusty. The Canadians are considering Camp Scorpion or Canada House".

Hmm. Decisions, decisions. (Hat tip to Pat C.)

Posted by BruceR at 12:42 PM


You say tom-ay-to, and I say tom-ah-to;
You say napalm and I say 500 lb Mark 77 firebomb;
Tomayto, tomahto, napalm, firebomb;
Let's flatten Safwan Hill.

Best quote: "A spokesman admitted [firebombs] were "remarkably similar" to napalm but said they caused less environmental damage."

UPDATE: I remember the denials at the time of the Safwan bombing that, despite eyewitness testimony from reporters and soldiers, the Armed Forces PR machine insisting napalm wasn't used. I probably should have commented on it at the time. It's technically true... the old Vietnam-era napalm was chemically unstable and an environmental hazard wherever it was stored. The modern US firebomb material does not pose the same storage hazard. It is also about 50 per cent more destructive per unit weight vs. soft targets. But the modern firebomb is delivered exactly the same way (level bombing under 1000 ft), tumbles in the air the same unmistakable way, and to an observer on the next hill looks indistinguishable from its precursor. Per unit weight, a firebomb is arguably more effective than an AP cluster munition vs. soft targets under most conditions, and against a tightly packed target can do the same damage with a single munition that you'd need several precision high explosive weapons to do, due to its wider area of effect.

I should also add that any firebomb-delivering aircraft is about the best possible anti-aircraft target an AA gunner can hope for: low and level. For that reason, its use on the modern battlefield is limited to situations where the enemy is incapable of mounting any air defence, in addition to close-packed (and, due to the large potential for blowback from collateral damage, isolated from local civilans as well). Even in Iraq, that was a rare combination of circumstances, making the use of firebombs in both 1991 and 2003 still something of a rarity.

Posted by BruceR at 10:30 AM