Monday, October 23, 2006

Iraq - Another Disastrous Coverup: Forward Base Falcon Disaster

Another Disastrous Coverup: Forward Base Falcon Disaster
by Brian Harring
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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Army and Marines, CIA agents and U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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...