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Seshmeister
02-23-2004, 12:08 AM
UK Sunday Times
Stephen Grey, Baghdad


A Pentagon intelligence guide to Iraq that was distributed to American troops six months before last year’s war indicated that they faced little danger from chemical weapons.

Although it devotes 11 pages to poisonous snakes, spiders and plants, the 380-page manual spends just two pages warning soldiers of the possible peril from weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is scarcely more than the section on noxious gases from burning oil installations.

A copy of the Iraq Country Handbook, marked “for official use only”, was bought last week for £5 by a Sunday Times reporter in a Baghdad market. The low priority it gives to WMDs will reopen the debate on American intelligence and its intentions before the war.

The manual’s publication date — September 2002 — suggests that the American military were making preparations to invade Iraq long before any debate at the United Nations. The lack of concern over WMDs indicates that the generals were less than impressed by the prominence given by the State Department to the menace they posed.

The most damning statement the manual can muster about Saddam Hussein’s arsenal is that it was “possible” that the Iraqis “retain a small offensive chemical warfare capability”.

George W Bush spoke in his 2003 state of the union address of Iraq possessing enough anthrax “to kill several million people” and chemical weapons that could “kill untold thousands”.

The Pentagon assessment of Iraq’s limited capabilities is a further embarrassment to western intelligence agencies, which are now focusing on the menace of Pakistan’s nuclear sales to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

This week the International Atomic Energy Agency will issue its latest findings on the Libyan nuclear programme, but a diplomat in Vienna said yesterday that the agency was more concerned at the nuclear proliferation network. Had Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist, continued to sell his country’s nuclear technology, intelligence experts believe that the Al-Qaeda terror network of Osama Bin Laden would almost certainly have benefited from it.

The likelihood of Bin Laden getting his hands on a nuclear weapon now appears to be receding. Intelligence reports from Pakistan indicate that he is confined to a small square of territory between Baluchistan and the Afghan border. The area, in tribal lands, is fiercely anti-western.

“It’s highly credible information,” said an American involved in the hunt for the terrorist. “But nothing is imminent, nothing will happen tomorrow.”

BigBadBrian
02-23-2004, 10:55 AM
Great try, Sesh. If there was some massive planned deception on the part of the US about WMD, they would've covered the bases about WMD training, including the manuals involved. I would imagine the US Army has a 380 page manual itself just on how to deal with chemical weapons alone, besides nuclear and biological threats.

Seshmeister
02-23-2004, 01:28 PM
I just report the news not write it.

John Ashcroft
02-23-2004, 01:44 PM
Heh heh.. Who ever wrote this particular bit of "news" is completely ignorant of military matters. I can tell you first hand that chem-warfare training took up a significant amount of my training while I was in the Air Force. We had monthy, semi-annual, and annual certs we had to accomplish in chem-warfare. I've even flown entire missions in chem-warfare gear (talk about a fuckin' bitch!)

Yep, the military probably spends more time training in chem-warfare situtions than any other single item. Certainly more than could ever be written in a military desert survival manual (of which I own several, they even pack those little guides in our airplane survival kits).

Mr Grimsdale
02-24-2004, 10:15 AM
Sesh, NBC training is part of regular training for all armed forces personnel. The booklet you refer to is just a supplement for a particular campaign/posting. Therefore it's going to deal with local issues and the fact that there's only 2 pages on NBC procedures is really just meant to remember the chaps to stay alert and remember the drill.

Junyore Grades
02-24-2004, 11:47 AM
My dad had extensive training in northern NY just prior to going to the middle east. It was a two week course that dealt exlusivly with chemical weapons.
For months, soldiers had to go through hell wearing chemical suits in 130deg weather.
Maybe Mr. Stephen Grey of the UK Sunday Tmes got ahold of the Ned Notes version.