In May, 2003, US Sen. Barbara Boxer announced that, while Saddam Hussein
did not have weapons of mass destruction, he did have the largest storehouse of conventional arms in the world—16 linear miles of them, stacked 10 feet high, spread through the country.
United Nations headquarters in Iraq was blown up with Hussein’s artillery shells loaded in a truck. Virtually every day, car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) made from these artillery shells kill brave US men and women. How do the insurgents get to use these armaments?
The Bush administration has made the conscious decision not to guard these ammo dumps. Why not? Last Friday at Central Congregational Church, Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan offered her opinion. They left them unguarded because they want an insurgency, was her answer.
As a combat veteran, I say the real answer is different, and it can be buttressed by any military police-experienced resident of JP. Properly guarding those ammunition dumps against exploitation by insurgents would have immediately shown Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld (none of whom have one day in combat) that they woefully undermanned this occupation force. It would have been immediate proof that things were hopeless, given the inept planning of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the White House.
Since Sen. Boxer made her report, I have tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get the DOD and White House to pay attention, because brave troops die as long as this ineptitude continues. Also last Friday, the Congress’s General Accountability Office reported that one-half of US casualties are caused by ammo taken from those unguarded ammo dumps.
In October, 2003, then Maj. Gen. David Petreaus pointed to the dumps in his area of Kirkuk and prophetically forecasted to US Rep. Tom Lantos, now chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I don’t have the manpower to guard these dumps, and I am afraid they will be turned into weapons against out troops.” Now Gen. Petraeus is in charge, and the ammo dumps are still unguarded.
If the anti-war groups want to end this war (as I did before it started and since), they will beat the inept Bushies with their failure to guard and destroy these dumps. Without artillery shells, without bullets, there will be no car bombs, no IEDs and many fewer US troop deaths.
We owe it to these brave men and women to call the Bush administration to account on the unguarded ammo dumps. That is this war’s Achilles’ heel.
Francis X. Stone, Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)