I am really on the fence about this one.
The US DoD has released video footage of the missile strike by Iran, on the US base. In case you don’t recall, the strike was declared to be retaliation for the US drone strike that assassinated Quasem Solemani, an Iranian general officer. The Iranians used the strike as an opportunity to demonstrate the accuracy and power of their weapons, which worked as advertised. The message was “we can destroy you” which is a really, really upsetting message for the US military. They’re used to being the ones who chest-thump, not the ones who cower in holes while high explosive disintegrates their facilities.
Here’s how Senior Master Sgt. Noal Yarnes described what the impact of the first missile felt like:
“The bass resonating through the floor and walls of the bunker was met by muffled vocalizations I can’t quite quantify as screams,” said Yarnes, of the 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron. “The sound was more guttural, as if pushed from inside the human body by an involuntary spasm of clenched muscles.”
Staff Sgt. Brian Sermons, of the 22nd Expeditionary Weather Squadron, described the first explosion as “soul-shaking.”
“Three more missiles hit – one within 150 meters of our bunkers,” Sermons said. “We could hear a shower of debris raining over the bunkers, smoke and dust filling the air inside. Aside from our shaky breathing, an eerie silence followed, then we heard rounds of ammo cooking off.”
And one anonymous airman said he clutched his M-4 carbine as missiles landed all around him. When a tent caught fire, the ammunition stored inside it began to explode.
Expecting that he would be killed at any moment, the airmen thought about his daughters.
“They love for me to sing ‘You are my sunshine,’ so I started singing quietly to myself and I waited for that final moment,” the airman said. “I had fully accepted that I would die in that shelter with my team.”
Nobody should have to experience such a thing. But this is only newsworthy because it’s Americans on the receiving end of modern artillery – civilians and insurgents around the world call this sort of experience, “monday.” I think it’s great that these US soldiers are speaking about how unpleasant the experience was but, remember, they’re combatants in uniform – they’re not civilians in Raqqa on the receiving end of US white phosphorus 150mm artillery. I’m glad that a few US soldiers have figured out that being bombarded sucks.
Lt. Col. Staci Coleman, commander of the 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron, later talked about what it was like deciding which of her troops would be evacuated and which had to stay behind.
“I was being forced to gamble with my members’ lives by something I couldn’t control,” Coleman said. “I was deciding who would live and would die. I honestly thought anyone remaining behind would perish. I didn’t believe anyone would survive a ballistic missile attack and it made me feel sick and helpless.”
Again, I’m glad that a senior US officer has realized that it sucks to have to endure something that they can’t control. Holy shit, that sucks! Where was Coleman during the strike? I suspect that if Lt. Col. Coleman had been down there among the explosions, there’d be some “holy shit explosions suck!” observations, as well. I’m not trying to dismiss the emotional suffering of a REMF who has to leave a few troops behind to show the flag in an explosion demo… But – seriously – the whole situation was a deranged demonstration of nationalism: nobody had to be there. The whole base complement could have formed up and marched a mile north and set up cameras and a barbecue. But, no, they had to stay there so the flag could keep flying in a great big exercise of counter-counter stupidity to the Iranians’ stupid response to the US’ stupid assassination. If you facto that in, Lt. Coleman should have been saying “It made me feel sick and helpless to be sucked into this cycle of stupidity, why couldn’t the US have just negotiated with the Iranians instead of using high explosive? High explosive sucks.” You know what? Pretty much everyone in the Middle East knows high explosive sucks except the American colonial invaders.
The fact that no U.S. service members were killed in the attack initially led to speculation that the Iranians had aimed their ballistic missiles in order to avoid hitting barracks and other structures housing U.S. troops.
But Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters immediately following the attack that he felt the Iranians had indeed tried to kill U.S. troops.
“The points of impact were close enough to personnel and equipment and so on and so forth, I believe based on what I saw and what I knew that they were attempting to cause structural damage; destroy vehicles and equipment and aircraft; and to kill personnel,” Milley said.
Well, sort of. See, maybe the Iranians didn’t think the US commanding officers would force their troops to stand their ground instead of marching off to a barbecue a mile away. After all, they did give the US 3+ hours’ warning. 24 hours before the attack, the Iranians announced they were going to fire upon a US base, and hours before the attack they announced the specific base and the time. Were they trying to kill personnel? Maybe they thought they were going to cull a few of the dumb ones? In an old school military, I’d have expected the base commander to send the troops out on a barbecue/recon mission en masse, while remaining behind next to the flagpole, standing at parade rest.
Here’s where it gets more surreal: the US has released video footage of the ballistic missiles inbound, beating the shit out of their base.
The video actually shows no such thing. It’s a drone’s-eye view of the missiles coming in and making explosions. It demonstrates that, even though the base commanders felt they needed to order some of their troops to stay behind and face the high explosive, they did think to put up a drone with thermal imaging to catch the heat trails of the inbound warheads. I am frankly surprised that they didn’t have a camera zoom in on the base commander, standing at parade rest, while “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there…” (pan and zoom in on the flag, still standing, against the background of burning expensive stuff).
So, we still don’t know what it was like. Except that it was like every other soldier or civilian’s experience of being bombarded with high explosive: it sucked.
‘Progressive’ president Joe Biden decided to demonstrate his administration’s more competent foreign policy by shooting some US missiles at an Iranian base (in Syria), in what’s a double-ended violation of international law. The Iranians were not (apparently) warned of the inbound ordnance. It’s OK, though, we are to believe, because the US was only trying to destroy the building, not necessarily anyone who was inside of the building at the time. See, we’re the good guys – we only bomb buildings not people. People in the building are “collateral damage” etc.
“We have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq,” Mr. Kirby said.
Wrap your mind around that for a second. In the US, an air-strike is “de-escalation.” As in “Bruce Lee really de-escalated Mr Han’s ass, in that final fight scene.”