Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Interesting story about what the military went through to make sure classified technology from the downed Apache in Iraq didn't get into the hands of the Iraqis.

"We directed an aircraft to the site, but when it got there, there were too many clouds," says US Army Lt. Col. Eric Nelson, air-operations officer for V Corps. "The pilot could see the helicopter [on the ground between the clouds], but he couldn't get a good lock on it to shoot it."

So recovery officials changed plans. They decided instead to use long-range artillery fire. But the crash site was close to US troops, and it took some time to clear the artillery barrage with commanders in the area.

By then, however, the Iraqis had loaded the helicopter onto a transport truck. For two days, US officials lost track of the Longbow.

At this point of the story, military officials choose their words very carefully. "Someone saw it and reported it," is all they will say. But it is no secret that a significant number of Special Forces troops were working behind enemy lines.

The Iraqis had transported the helicopter to a gully near what then was the Saddam International Airport. They covered it with camouflage tenting.

"Once we located it, we put an Air Force jet on it, and this time he destroyed it," says Colonel Nelson, who also answers to the call sign "Evil-6." "You want it blown apart. We didn't want to disable it. We wanted to totally destroy it so its parts couldn't be exploited."

The pilot dropped a 1,000-pound bomb.

About a week later, the 3rd Infantry Division pushed through the area, capturing the airport. A special detail was sent to recover whatever was left of the Apache.

Today, it is barely recognizable as a helicopter - a twisted hulk of green and black metal about the size of a small dump truck. The blades are doubled over and shattered. The only recognizable piece of equipment is the protective Kevlar shield that supports the pilot's seat. The seat itself is gone.

The wreckage is awaiting transport to American salvage specialists in Kuwait. "We don't leave our combat junk out on the battlefield," Nelson says. "The Iraqis won't have to clean up after us."

< email | 5/06/2003 04:16:00 PM | link

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