From Tue Apr 8 17:00:37 2003
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 09:18:53 -0500 (CDT)
From: “Perception Management Recovery” <>
Subject: Entire US Press Corps MIA! ::: Perception Management 2003
Organization: Planetary Rescue Corps
Article: 155714
To: undisclosed-recipients:;,2763,916495,00.html

Bigger, better bangs: new weapons on trial

Sir Timothy Garden, The Guardian, Tuesday 18 March 2003

With war seemingly inevitable, weapon designers will be looking forward to another opportunity for field-testing new products. The US air force has just demonstrated its 10 ton guided bomb for the first time at a range in Florida.

The massive ordnance air blast munition is known by its faintly biblical acronym of Moab. The hype declares it to be the world's largest non-nuclear explosive device: it packs a punch well above the renowned daisycutter BLU-52 used in the hunt for al-Qaida in the caves of Tora Bora. Moab may not be ready for action, but it is obviously being trialled as part of the psychological warfare against Iraq.

How would the Moab and its smaller cousin BLU-52 help to conquer Iraq? Despite the addition of precision satellite guidance, the Moab remains an area weapon.

Air burst was something that we used to think of for nuclear weapon delivery.

While a conventional bomb has no radiation problem to worry about—despite the mushroom cloud that it generates—the greater extent of the explosive effect is important. The targets have to be clearly military, as this weapon cannot discriminate between civilian and soldier. It therefore has no legitimate role in the urban warfare that is expected to be key. Armour concentrations in the desert will be vulnerable to its effects, just as they were to the B-52 carpet bombing in the last Gulf war.

Area effect weapons do not have to be so big. The cluster bomb remains in US and UK inventories. Here a shower of small munitions is released over the target area. They can be effective against dispersed groups of military vehicles. The problem is that some of the munitions remain unexploded and act much like landmines for a long time afterwards. Perhaps we shall see manufacturers argue that the new air burst bombs are more humane as they leave no long term hazard after they have killed everyone within their impact area.

Technology has allowed the production of accurate guidance for old fashioned bombs at marginal extra cost. It is expected that as many as 80% of the bombs used in the coming war will be guided. Of course, as the 1999 inhabitants of the Belgrade Chinese embassy found, precision also requires the right target coordinates to be fed into the system.

In the Kosovo campaign, a new graphite-dispensing weapon was used to short out power stations. There remains debate over the legitimacy of such targets, which have significant effects on civilian survival. Nevertheless, we may see more of these novel weapons in use as the US tries to cut off the regime from all support.

High power microwave generators may be fielded for the first time. The aim would be to disable electronic devices and thus separate Saddam Hussein from his forces. Laser weapons that can blind are now internationally prohibited: the high energy microwave may find itself in the same category if it causes unnecessary suffering to people in its path.

In the end, the new toys will make little difference to the outcome. Few believe that Iraq can defeat the military power of the US. War is to a considerable extent about the will to fight. US technology is being shaped to break the Iraqi military will. At the same time, Saddam Hussein will be planning his campaign to make America pay an unbearable price. He may believe that America will find it difficult to sustain its will if casualties mount rapidly in an apparently endless attrition war.