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April 26, 2005

Travels in Iraq: Return From Paladin

Continuing the adventures of LTC Bob, our Iraqi avifaunalist.

Here's a pic of the ammo crates ready for movement to the demo range. These are filled with 130mm rounds, with the propellant charges underneath.

The second crate says “130m Prop Charge 21/130m Proj 15 ea M-46”, in other words, 21 each 130mm propellant charges on the bottom, with 15 ea M-46 130mm projectiles on top.

Just for the record, the Coalition Munitions Clearance guys have destroyed 59, 802 short tons of ammo of all types on Paladin Depot. There are 14,480 short tons left there to destroy. Paladin is one of seven depots of this type – a couple of them are even larger. Additionally there are caches of ammo all over the country where the Saddam regime hid stuff – in buildings, buried in the desert, etc. The amount of stuff that we have to deal with is incredible.

Here's the view at the demo range.

There are two separate shots – they will be fired a few milliseconds apart to decrease the shock wave generated. The second shot is what you can see in the background. These two ammo piles come to about 70 short tons or so. Again, notice the land mines placed on the top of the crates to ensure that all the other ordnance goes up in the shot. The brown finned ones are Italian – the round green ones are US, M-15 Anti Tank (AT) Mines.

So how did US landmines get to Iraq? The US Government has pledged to refrain from using “dumb” mines in the future – i.e., any mine that has a conventional pressure fuse. We will only use mines that have a built in time safety that makes them deactivate after a set time period. So the USA has a lot of old mines to get rid of. Since we need HE donor material to destroy the Iraqi stuff, we’ve shipped our old mines here to use for that purpose. M-15 AT mines are great for this task –each one has 22 lbs of HE in it.

The green clothes line looking stuff strung around the ammo pile is detonating core - det cord – plastic tube filled with PETN in this case; a high explosive line that is used to tie together all the various explosive components. Blasting caps or exploders are tied onto the det cord at various locations – the det cord sets off the cap, and the cap sets off the HE in the munition. Unlike in the movies, you CANNOT get HE to function by shooting it, burning it, etc. You have to use another HE system to set it off. A cap is used to initiate one end of the firing chain on the det cord loop. The caps are more sensitive and can be set off by time fuze, which burns black power, or electric caps, which are set off by applying an electric current.

This is me at the demo range – you can see there are some big aircraft bombs there as well. That’s what is in the big wooden cylindrical crate behind me.

I wish I had a picture to show you of the explosion, but we missed it!! We were at lunch and the tour guides didn’t get us back in time.

(Editor's Note: They probably looked something like this.)

Here is the view as we took off. The LZ is the road in front of the armored vehicles. Our contractors generally ride in these, because occasionally they bad guys come in and place a mine or IED in the Depot. We also use these on the route clearance missions that the engineers do to remove the IEDs on the roads. These are South African vehicles – until this war, the US military never thought we needed mine and blast resistant vehicles…

As we flew in and out, I saw several of these out in the desert. They are wells, dug with a bulldozer. Basically, they just start pushing dirt – with the water table only 30-40 feet down; it’s easier to dig with a dozer than to drill a well.

Here is a view of one of the little farms on the way home. Note the walls made of reeds and the baking ovens beside the house.

That’s it for now.

I have a trip up to Taji tomorrow, so I should get some new material.

Posted by Bigwig at April 26, 2005 09:43 AM | TrackBack
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