Wednesday, December 22, 2004


An Alert Reader has asked for our comments about the Mosul bombing. First let's look at this post, from an Army chaplain at the base, who describes the attack thus:
Any attack with casualties will naturally mean that eventually a very large number of care givers will be concentrated in one location. They took full advantage of that. In the middle of the mayhem the first mortar round hit about 100 to 200 meters away. Everyone started shouting to get the wounded into the hospital which is solid concrete and much safer than being in the open. Soon, the next mortar hit quite a bit closer than the first as they "walked" their rounds toward their intended
(Thanks to Belmont Club and instapundit for this one) The chaplain describes a two-part attack: first, an explosion creates dozens of casualties. Then, as medical caregivers arrive and triage the wounded, mortars begin to bracket, or at least walk in on their position. Questions: 1. If it was an inside job just by a suicide bomber, why did initial reports, like this one, mention several explosions or impacts, and not just one? 2. If, as this report again states, the explosions were caused by mortar rounds and they got progressively closer to the site of the casualty triage area, then who was observing the fires and calling or signaling for its adjustment? The situation as the chaplain describes it implies that after the initial suicide bomber, there was another individual inside the camp watching the rounds impact, and had the ability to call his comrades and adjust them. Belmont Club raises questions of counter-battery fire at the base. We suspect that the perpetrators used their mortars on the back of a truck and displaced before our counter-battery fires, if any such capability exists, could hit them. Infiltrating one of these bases would not be difficult for a committed and disciplined terrorist. One could work there for months or weeks in a menial job and observe the layout, the routines of the occupants, and especially which targets were softer than others. The most difficult part of the operation would be signaling to the mortar crew -- how to do this and not be noticed? There is the off-chance that the observer was outside the base in some kind of overwatch position, but without knowing the surrounding terrain, we can only speculate. This seems less likely though in general.


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