November 28, 2003

Iraq Mortars Proposed Solution

Strategy Page (which would be perfect if it had permalinks) talks about how Iraqi mortars use shoot and scoot tactics to neutralize much of the US' technical superiority. Every time they fire from a built up civilian area it's a war crime but the US has decided not to take advantage of the fact and immediately return fire (by the laws of war, the resulting civilian casualties are the rebel's fault).

The U.S. has a Firefinder radar which, when it spots an incoming shell, calculates where it came from and transmits the location to a nearby artillery unit, which then fires on where the mortar is (or was). This process takes 3-4 minutes (or less, for experienced troops.) But there are rules of engagement to deal with. You cannot fire your artillery into a populated area. And this is where the Iraqis usually fire their mortar from; some civilians back yard.

The problem is that world and arab media would likely not report the laws of war correctly. If your source of news isn't letting you know that most of these mortar attacks are war crimes, they are likely to mislead on a US response.

One solution to this manipulation of the laws of war presents itself from the financial arena. Bank robbers often get apparently cooperative tellers shoveling money into their bags but they also get a surprise, a special die marker slipped in with the money that explodes and marks the bank robber with an ink that will take over a day to scrub off. It's generally harmless but greatly assists the police in picking out bank robbers, just look for the guy with the green dye and you have your bad guy.

I suspect that appropriate artillery loads to replicate this feature do not exist in the modern military arsenal but until they do, (or we get a better worldwide media that doesn't routinely let irregulars get away with war crimes as regular actions) this will become a widespread tactic of forces fighting against the US. Compensating the civilians for making their house and yard glow in the dark pink is probably a small price to pay in comparison.

Posted by TMLutas at November 28, 2003 11:14 AM