Thursday, October 26, 2006
On October 10, Iraqi resistance fighters hit ammunition stored at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad with mortar rounds. The semi-independent daily Star & Stripes reports:
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.Now, the Web and Blogosphere are sporting claims of a Bush administration election-driven coverup of 300 US soldiers killed in the attack and resulting fires and explosions. One site even provides a purported list of casualties. In my own military experience, it seems very unlikely that US commanders would billet large numbers of troops close enough to risk such high casualties. According to a BBC video on the incident the base is quite large.
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 U.S. military news release read. The troops at Falcon have been participating in Operation Together Forward, a massive U.S.-Iraqi effort to clamp down on sectarian violence in Baghdad.
Is a coverup of large numbers of US deaths possible? Yes, but unless other information emerges it seems highly improbable. Still, a successful attack of this type and so close to the Green Zone shows how miserably the US military is failing in Iraq.
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