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So the war starts & Iraq uses chem weapons - what then?(15 posts)

So the war starts & Iraq uses chem weapons - what then?PdxMark
Feb 6, 2003 2:06 PM
The President is saying that Iraq has authorized field commanders to use chemical weapons. That was a concern during the 1991 Gulf War, but it seems by some accounts that Iraq decided/heard that retaliation for chemical weapon usage, including against Israel, would be massive & severe. The Pentagon is considering allowing field cremation for the first time if bio/chem casualties wsamp decontamination facilities.

But now in the last few weeks before the war starts, what are guesses about the likely response if Iraq does use chemical weapons? We'll already be bombing everything "worth bombing" with every available plane. I suspect we wouldn't retaliate with chemical weapons. So what do we do, if anything?

This is not a suggestion that the threat of chemical weapons should stop us, if we're justified. It's more just a tactical/strategic question. What is the retaliatory response to chemical weapons usage in an otherwise conventional battle/war? And I feel for our troops if Iraq unleashes chem weapons.
We use our "nu-kyu-lar" weapons.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 2:20 PM
We're not taking our "nu-kyu-lar" weapons off the table, should WMD be used against us.
Highly doubt itCaptain Morgan
Feb 6, 2003 2:37 PM
No way does Dubya use nuclear weapons in that instance. The use of nuclear weapons is not a precedence that we want to set.
Agreed nmPdxMark
Feb 6, 2003 2:44 PM
Tell that to Bush.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 4:11 PM
He seems to think that he is keeping all options on the table.
He's posturing. . .js5280
Feb 6, 2003 4:38 PM
It's effective and it's the truth. You don't think if some horrific senario occured that they wouldn't consider it if it were the best solution. We dropped two on Japan because the thinking was it saved more lives than it ended. It's horrific to think about, but not out of the realm of possibility. Certainly at the furthest reaches though.
But, as you said, it's the truth, and the truth is horrific.czardonic
Feb 6, 2003 5:13 PM
I can see that it needs to stay on the table in certain situations, but I don't see how nuclear weapons are of use against Iraq's use of chemical or biological weapons. Who are we going to use them on? Where? If we are fighting on behalf of the Iraqi people, our hands are pretty much tied with respect to nuclear retaliation. Wiping out Baghdad or littering the countryside with fall-out throws the baby out with the bath water. You can't fight a war of liberation by attrition of those you intend to liberate.

Posturing is only effective when it is plausible.
Maybe it's a low risk of happening or being very widespread...PdxMark
Feb 6, 2003 2:52 PM
Chemical weapons work best on unprepared and unprotected people. Iraq will have essentiall no aircraft to deliver the stuff, and our "counter-artillery" is apparently deadly accurate - giving Iraq only a brief window of shooting chemical-filled artillery before our artillery comes right back at them. (I think counter-artillery is essentially radar tracking of in-coming artillery in communication with out-going artillery.)

But it is odd to think that there isn't much of an increased retaliatory response to the stuff...
Feb 6, 2003 4:12 PM
They still have scud missiles, and they can plant devices in fixed positions (i.e., along the hwy into Baghdad) and detonate them.

But really, quantity doesn't matter. The shock value of troops dying due to even a single chemical artillery round will stop the US Army in its tracks. I suspect there will be a handful of soldiers who won't want to fight, but mostly I'll bet commanders won't want to put their men at risk because of political and career implications.

What do we do? What can we do? Nothing, because it's inhumane to respond in the same fashion. Our response would be to crank up the war machine and make sure that Iraqi forces were completely destroyed, all responsible government and military personnel were either killed on the battlefield or executed following war crimes, and Iraq was forever neutralized as a military force. If people were freaked out by the "turkey shoot" during the last war, they ain't seen nothing yet if Iraq uses chemicals.
Feb 6, 2003 6:07 PM
I think the response to an NBC attack would be a "virtual presence" counterattack whereby we would slick every vestage of political and economic infrastructure in Iraq. ...One massive crushing blow with waves of bombers and attacks jets streaking in behind a wall of TLAMs. It would be a modern version of the fire bombings of WWII, only our goal here would be to knock the country back to the stone age.

...Then again, that would be great for them post war. The best thing any country can do for their economy is to totally lose a war to us. We're softies at heart.

Seriously, I really hope this eventuality doesn't happen, now or in the future.
Supposedly the military is prepared. . .js5280
Feb 6, 2003 4:30 PM
Heard (think it was on a Discovery show or maybe Mail Call on the History Channel- great show BTW!) that the US military has been gearing up for chemical attacks since the Gulf War. They have new equipment that's supposed to be better, and older equipment that still is effective. In fact, they mentioned that the scope of the Gulf War was purposely limited because of a logistical concerns such as this.

Now if Iraq attacks a civilan population, it's going to be a tradegy. I don't think the US would ever respond with a nuclear attack, but in this case, you could be assured that the rest of Iraq would probably be flattened by conventional weapons and with less attention paid to "surgical" strikes. A sad event because I believe many civilians would be killed, many of which would probably be overjoyed to be rid of Saddam.

If this does work out as planned, that is Saddam is ousted, it should be interesting to see the results. Iraq is a wealthy, sophisticated country, unlike Afghanistan. Their revival could be more like Germany or Japan post-WWII.
There are many problems associated with chem/bio attack.sn69
Feb 6, 2003 5:43 PM
And I'll discuss those a little bit, but the worst is human fallability. The bottom line is that WMDs are also terror weapons, designed not only to kill en masse, but also to strike terror, panic and discord in the front and rear echelons of the opposing force. Once and attack is identified, the gear is only as good as it is used, and in the heat of this sort of battle, people get nervous and potentially screw up their MOPP gear usage. Fortunately, the kits also include tri-pan auto-injectors which, if injected quickly, can save you from a nerve agent attack.

The tactical issues following the initial attack are centered around command and control limitations. It's hard as hell to talk between two people with that crap on, much less when you're trying to talk on a radio, under enemy fire.

Likewise, there are environmental concerns. In normal air conditioned spaces, somebody in full MOPP gear will be drenched in sweat in a short period. Can you imagine what it would be like in open battle? That's where part of the time-critical nature of this comes into play. If the government is hell-bent on directing DOD to do this gig, then DOD knows they have to do it in the winter. Summer heat in the Persian Gulf is beyond description and a lot of our people would expire due to heat related problems.

I don't think chem/bio attack would effect the net outcome of the engagement, but it would cause A LOT of casualties. Remember, Psycho Boy doesn't have to lob one only at our troops in the field. He can hurl them at our ships, at other nations, and on the battlefield where we are actively engaging his people.

What will our answer be? Dunno, but I doubt we'd use battlefield nukes. I can, however, see the NCA opting to use nukes adapted for the bunker-busting role. I think all of Saddam's palaces would cease to exsist within an hour of a chem/bio attack.
Here's a scenerio53T
Feb 8, 2003 10:42 AM
They use chem wepons on us, so the next morning, before the news picks up on it:

1) We pull back the artillary and foreward air strike operations.

2) We pull out the B-list of targets, these are the ones that have symbolic meaning, or where we think Saddam might be hiding.

3) We launch a sea-based Spaoorow missle attack with tactical nuclear warheads on Saddam's presidential sites. These are not big nukes, but they should be very impressive, if not all that percise. I a short time the presidential palaces (what are there now 30 of them?) would litterally be glass and dust.

4) The war is over.

5) The French are seething and condemning us for barbaric actions.

6) CNN gets hold of video of some GI's a guy and a girl, let's say, actually dieing of mustard gas poisoning. They run with this, and the PR war is over.

7) A consortium of Bechtel, Exxon/Mobile, Clean Harbors, and Archer Daniels Midland is awarded the rebuilding contract: 6 Billion for the first two years.

8) The first McDonalds opens nine months later, the rest as they say, is history.
Two thingssn69
Feb 8, 2003 5:29 PM
First, Sparrow is an air to air radar guided missile with a 10 pound continuous rod warhead. It doesn't make much of a divet in the ground.

Second, when do we send Michael "I'm Peter Pan" Jackson in to subliminally subdue to populace with backwards masked messages urging them all to have plastic surgery?
Feb 10, 2003 4:42 PM
Tomahawk then. No idea on Whaco Jacko.