Brian Harring / TBR News.org & The Green Zone Follies & Joseph Giordono / Stars and Stripes – 2006-10-27 17:15:34
EAW Editor’s Note
North Korea did the White House a big favor by announcing the test of a nuclear weapon. The drama in North Korea shifted the media’s focus away from a much more dramatic series of explosions that were rocking Baghdad around the same time.
The Pentagon’s largest ammo dump at Forward Operating Base Falcon exploded with earth-shaking violence, reportedly causing hundreds of milions of dollars of damage. The Pentagon initially announced that the cause was “a fire.” In fact, the conflagration was triggered by two rockets and three mortar rounds fired by the Iraqi resistance.
The Pentagon continues to claim that there was “no loss of life.” The Pentagon claimed that the base quickly “returned to normal.”
The articles in this special edition of EAW’s Breaking News stongly indicate that the Pentagon has lied about the extent of the damage and the number of casualties.
EAW has obtained document that purports to list the names of more than 300 US soldiers, civilian contract workers and CIA employees who died in the attack.
We have chosen to publish the casualty list with apologies lto the families that may not yet have been notified by the Pentagon.
— Gar Smith, editor, Environmentalists Against War.
Another Disastrous Coverup:
Forward Base Falcon Disaster
Brian Harring / TBR News.org
Late on the evening of October 10, 2006, Iraqi resistance groups lobbed mortar and rocket rounds into the immense ‘Forward Base Falcon,’ the largest American military base in Iraq, located 13 km south of the Green Zone in Baghdad. In addition to accurate mortar fire, Grad and Katyusha rockets were also used.
Falcon base was designed to house a large contingent of American troops, mostly drawn from the 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fr. Bliss, Texas. At the time of the attack, there were approximately 3000 men inside the camp, which also was filled with ammunition supplies, fuel, tanks and vehicles.
Iraqi contractors had assisted in the construction of the camp, which occupied nearly a square mile and was surrounded with guard tower-studded high concrete walls, and it is now apparent that the Resistance movement had been given important targets from “sources familiar with the layout” of the base.
After the initial shelling, fuel and ammunition stores began to erupt with massive explosions that could be heard, and seen, miles away inside the Green Zone where US military and diplomatic units were heavily guarded. The explosions, all of them termed “immense” by BBC reporters, continued throughout the night.
In response, US aircraft indiscriminately rocketed and bombed various parts of the city, BBC and AFP correspondents eported, trying to knock out the launch sites of the rockets
The BBC’s Andrew North, in Baghdad, said the explosions started at about 2300 (2100 BST) and were becoming “ever more frequent” as the huge fires spread throughout the base, punctuated by tremendous explosions as more fuel and ammunition dumps ignited.
“Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organization were responsible for last night’s mortar attack,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington, spokesman for the US 4th Infantry Division.
An after action report, issued by the Department of Defense, stated that: “On October 10, 2006, at approximately 10:40 p.m., a 82mm mortar round, fired by militia forces from a residential area in Abu T-Shir, caused a fire at an Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) at FOB Falcon. The ASP, containing tank and artillery rounds, in addition to smaller caliber ammunition, set off a series of large explosions.
About 100 troops from the 4th Infantry Division were reported to be stationed at the base at the time, but no injuries were reported.” (Emphasis added.) “The damage to the area will not degrade the operational capability of MND-B (Multinational Division Baghdad),”
When the flames had been brought under control on the morning of the 11th of October, primarily because the entire camp had been gutted, nine large American military transports with prominent Red Cross markings were observed by members of the foreign media taking off, laded with the dead and the wounded.
Over 300 American troops, including US Army and Marines, CIA agents and US translators were casualties and there also were 165 seriously injured requiring major medical attention and 39 suffering lesser injuries 122 members of the Iraqi armed forces were killed and 90 seriously injured members of same, were also evacuated to the US military hospital at al-Habbaniyah located some 70km west of Baghdad.
Satellite pictures and aerial photographs from neutral sources showed that Camp Falcon suffered major structural damage and almost all the US military’s supply of small arms ammunition, artillery and rocket rounds, tons of fuel, six Apache helicopters, an uncounted but large number of soft-skinned vehicles such as Humvees and supply trucks were damaged or totally destroyed. Foreign press observers noted “an endless parade” of military vehicle recovery units dragging burnt-out heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers to another base outside Baghdad.
Many of the walls and towers of the camp were damaged or leveled as were many of the barracks, maintenance depots, and there was considerable damage to the huge mess halls that could hold 3000 soldiers, the huge recreation center with its basketball courts and indoor swimming pools and all the administration buildings.
Although official US DoD statements indicated that there were no deaths; that only a hundred men were inside the base guarding billions of dollars of vital military equipment and that there were “only two minor injuries to personnel,” passes belief and certainly reality is more painful than propaganda.
Not only has the US military machine lost much of its armor and transport — and its entire reserves of ammunition and special fuel — but the casualty list for only the first day is over 300.
The Green Zone Follies: Blogs from Baghdad
BAGHDAD (October 12, 2006) — On Tuesday, I was in my quarters, writing a letter to a friend that I knew will be censored so I was being very unspecific about conditions here.
About 2300, there was a huge explosion to the south of the Green Zone, followed at intervals by other, very heavy, explosions that numbered about 30 or 40 and lasted all night. I went up onto the roof and saw a great fountain of flames, billowing smoke and flaming debris shooting up into the air like Fourth of July fireworks.
Personnel were running all over the building, wide-eyed with terror and wondering if our compound was going to “get it” next. Usually, we hear distant explosions scattered throughout Baghdad on a daily basis as another convoy is blasted by the insurgent bombs but this ongoing mess was louder, and longer, than anything I have ever encountered.
It was impossible to sleep, what with all the explosions and, in the morning, I shaved and went to my office. As a note here: I am lucky to have quarters with no windows facing outwards towards Baghdad.
The insurgents have sniper rifles (usually US .50 caliber) set up in buildings that have a distant overlook and more than once, personnel shaving in front of a bathroom window have had their brains splattered all over the tile walls as a sniper zeroes in on them. The sound of the shot follows and never, not once, have our security people ever found the sniper’s nest.
In the office, I learned that ‘Forward Operating Base Falcon (one of our light-headed senior officer’s idea to set up fortified positions in various places, such as the capital of the Al Anbaar province as-Saqr) was hit by enemy action, set on fire and suddenly exploded as tons of stored ammunition cooked off.
Camp Falcon at Sukkaniya is located in the southern Baghdad suburb of ad-Durah. Forward Operating Base Falcon was one of the newest and most heavily armed fortified positions.
There now exists a very high threat of suicide bombers in Ramadi who might attempt to ram Falcon with a vehicle packed with explosives, and so heavy concrete barriers were placed around the base designed to prevent such attacks.
This did not deter the members of the Resistance movement who lobbed the same type of mortar shells into Falcon as they have been lobbing into the so-called “super secure” headquarters areas of the Green Zone.
Falcon had also become the largest US weapons arsenal depot in the American General Headquarters in the south of Baghdad and a very tempting target. This time, we heard later, (and officially denied!) the Resistance used Grad and Katyusha rockets instead of mortars and the results were immediate, prolonged and completely devastating.
The installation itself is full of smoking rubble and fires were still burning the following day. Although it is still very early to be accurate, reviews here of Falcon’s inventory indicates that losses will certainly exceed $1 billion.
That addresses the loss of property. The loss of life is even worse
Over 300 American troops, including US Army and Marines, CIA agents, US translators and contractors were killed or injured outright or died immediately afterwards en route to hospital or in hospital and over 125 seriously injured, requiring major medical attention and 39 suffering lesser injuries By accounts, charred and totally unrecognizable fragments of personnel were scattered over an eight-block area.
122 members of the Iraqi armed forces were killed and 90 seriously injured members of same, were also evacuated to the US military hospital at al-Habbaniyah located some 70km west of Baghdad. US medical personnel at al-Habbaniyah initially stated that the US military hospital at the massive American-occupied air base there had begun to receive dead and wounded personnel. The military hospital in al-Habbaniyah, the largest in occupied Iraq, was opened on 12 May this year in response to sharply rising (and redacted) US casualties.
Initially three large military transport aircraft with the red cross displayed under the wings and on the fuselages, had flown into the base, and casualties were being unloaded and sent into the hospital at the al-Habbaniyah base, and officially, we predictably released a flood of ‘official statements’ that claimed there were “only a few personnel wounded and no fatalities whatsoever.”
Also predictably, our people overreacted by launching a wild series of bomb and rocket attacks on random parts of Baghdad, killing an estimated 120 Iraqi civlinans and injuring an unknown number as well as setting fires that were still burning the next morning. There were strong ruimors that a container of artillery shells [contained] some kind of a nerve gas (for use against Iraqi militant strongholds…shades of Hussein!) turned out to be false. What was involved were a kind of tear gas, thank God, or we would all be dead now!
By now, it should be clearly obvious that the reporting of fatal casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan are really understated. For example, we had a young officer in here about three days ago who was talking with several of us. He is assigned to the airfield from which the dead are shipped back to Dover, Md.
According to him, last month, he supervised the loading of over 170 military caskets but amazingly, the official DoD reportage had only a fraction of that. Of course, he has no names, only numbers, and perhaps some high officer or Halliburton thief is shipping dope or underaged girls back to the states inside the boxes, but this man had no reason to lie. It will be interesting to see if the DoD website shows the deaths over the Falcon incident. Time may tell but they won’t.
Insurgent Mortar Fire Ignites US Ammunition Dump
Joseph Giordono / Stars and Stripes (Mideast edition)
BAGHDAD (October 12, 2006) — Insurgent mortar fire hit an American military ammunition dump late Tuesday night, setting off huge explosions and rattling windows and nerves throughout the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, military and civilian officials said Wednesday.
Tank rounds, artillery shells and small-arms ammunition at the Forward Operating Base Falcon site were ignited by the explosion and subsequent fire, casting an orange glow overnight and into Wednesday morning. No injuries were reported by late Wednesday.
According to military spokesmen, the first explosion happened around 10:40 p.m. Soldiers and base workers were evacuated from the area, and emergency workers raced to control the blaze.
FOB Falcon is in the central Rasheed district of Baghdad. A mortar round fired from southern Baghdad caused the blast, officials said. “Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organization were responsible for last night’s mortar attack,” 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division-Baghdad spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathon Withington was quoted by news agencies as saying. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire was still smoldering and more rounds were occasionally cooking off and exploding.
Three battalions, including tank and infantry units, are stationed at the base, but the loss of the ammunition “will not degrade the operational capability of [the division],” a US military news release read. The troops at Falcon have been participating in Operation Together Forward, a massive US-Iraqi effort to clamp down on sectarian violence in Baghdad.
Soldiers as far away as Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport, reported hearing the blast, which rattled windows on the base. Many rushed out of their offices and bunks, thinking the explosions were an attack on Camp Liberty.
By Wednesday, the Islamic Army in Iraq — one of several insurgent groups in Iraq — claimed responsibility for the attack.
“With the help of God, the mortar and rocket squads of the Islamic Army have shelled a US Army base with two rockets and three mortar shells,” a Web statement read. “The rockets and shells fell on ammunition dumps causing them to explode.” There was no way to verify the group’s claim of responsibility.
Other local Iraqi officials said Shiite militiamen were behind the attack.
FOB Falcon is in a largely industrial area of Baghdad, near the district of Dora. Iraqi citizens in the area were notified of the attack and its suspected cause but were not being evacuated.
Iraq’s interior minister, Jawad al-Bolani, took to the airwaves to give details of the attack and reassure area residents that the incident was under control. “There is an alert to security forces to provide any help to the residents of the area,” he said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Anita Powell contributed to this report.