As I had hoped, some milbloggers are starting to weigh in on my post about that flawed L.A. Times story about an alleged airstrike in Ramadi. Several milbloggers have questioned the claim by the mysterious “Times correspondent in Ramadi” that 15 houses could have been “pulverized” in the alleged airstrike. They all seem to agree that an airstrike that large would be a massive operation that would be very hard for the military to deny.
Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette says:
I’d add that if it were true [that 15 houses were “pulverized”], this might be the largest air strike ever in Iraq, requiring multiple platforms to achieve that much devastation. A lot of other nearby structures must have been damaged too. It would be awfully gutsy of DoD to deny that any air strike occurred that day at all, since absolutely no one in the city (including the Reuters reporter Patterico cites who did not mention the incident – and every US military member there) would be unaware of it.
Neptunus Lex adds:
There’s no way to “pulverize” 15 structures with one conventional weapon, or even with one aircraft attacking, unless we’re doing urban CAS now with carpet bombing B-52’s or B-1’s, which I don’t believe to be true.
In that environment the bias is towards smaller weapons to reduce the collateral damage risks, and each target is scrutinized to ensure that the effects on surrounding non-targets are minimized.
“Pulverized” is a rather non-specific term, but I’ll take it to mean a target structure that is 80-100% destroyed since that’s the image it evokes. Assuming from a best case in terms of desired weapons effects that the target building was demolished and from the worst case that a nearby non-target was 50% reduced through CD, you’re still talking an airstrike of 21 weapons – 7 to 8 or so against principal targets and another 14 or so which somehow combined to “pulverize” the non-targets.
That’s at least a ten-plane strike for TACAIR – hard to plausibly deny from the military perspective.
A blogger called “Lightning” at Op-for.com says this:
As you read Patterico’s blog entry on this article, take note of the fact that the report is entirely based on the word of an Iraqi stringer employed by the Times. In military intelligence circles, this is known as “single-source reporting”, and is generally considered untrustworthy and unsuitable intelligence for launching an operation. Apparently, it is good enough for mass publication to the American public.
Unfortunately, there are a number of other holes I could blast in their story, but I would have to cross, or at least stray dangerously close to, the OPSEC line in order to do it. Suffice it to say that, as a military forward air controller who recently worked in Al Anbar province, and who read the airstrike summaries Coalition Air Operations Center’s (CAOC) webpage, an airstrike big enough to level 15 houses would require multiple sections of aircraft and enough ordnance to be highly unusual for any city in Iraq.
Add this to the body of evidence suggesting that no such event actually occurred.
UPDATE: Here is Lightning’s profile on his own blog:
I’m a Captain in the Marine Corps, on my fourth deployment since January of 2003. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a deployment aboard ship to the Persian Gulf. I’m an infantry officer by trade, having just completed a 3-year tour in an infantry battalion. In my current billet, I am a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) responsible for requesting and directing close air support in support of friendly ground units.
Just to give you a picture of who’s weighing in.