pursuit inspires Fellowship
bomb damage in Iraq
bunker with more than 25 compartments was among sites visited by
the Combined Weapons Effectiveness Assessment Team, FLTLT Jillian
Lieutenant Jillian May takes measurements at a site in Baghdad
with a coalition member.
the impact point of a 5000-pound bomb that tore through
the dome of one of Saddam Husseins key regime buildings.
Photos by MSGT Carla Kippes, USAF
IT was the largest weapons assessment program ever undertaken
and four RAAF Airfield Engineering officers were part of it.
Squadron Leaders Sheldon Krahe, Michael Netherton and Paul Harte,
and I were members of the Combined Weapons Effectiveness Assessment
Team (CWEAT) that travelled throughout Iraq from May to August to
inspect points targeted by coalition aircraft during the conflict
earlier this year. It was the first time the coalition had joined
forces as a CWEAT to assess the accuracy, precision and performance
of air component weapons.
Locations visited included Baghdad, Tikrit, Mosul, Karbala, Kirkuk
and west Iraq, with nearly 400 mean points of impact selected for
assessment. A mean point is the precise point where a weapon is
intended to strike.
CWEATs mission was to learn from the operation so that future
coalition forces might operate with increased precision.
Comprised of 77 military and civilian experts in various fields,
CWEAT members were drawn from all branches of the US and British
armed services; US Department of Defence agencies; as well as the
RAAF. Their expertise ranged from targeting, weapons, engineering
and intelligence, to support functions such as medical, explosive
ordnance, combat camera, linguistics and force protection experts.
The RAAF officers provided guidance on practical applications of
targeting and the structural integrity of buildings expertise
that was highly regarded.
SQNLDRs Krahe and Netherton have both completed Masters degrees
in Weapons Effects on Structures through the Cranfield University
at Shrivenham, UK. They were instrumental in providing guidance
on how and why the structures inspected responded to weapon blasts
and fragmentation. SQNLDR Harte is a Nuclear Biological Radiological
Chemical (NBRC) adviser and graduate of the Advanced NBRC Advisers
course in Canada. I undertook study into hardened targets during
my undergraduate degree.
A typical day for us would begin when we arrived at the CWEAT working
tent at 0700hrs to don Kevlar vests, helmets and webbing that contained
an array of measuring and self-protection equipment, grab our Steyrs
and wait for Force Protection to arrive. As we were going outside
of the wire into non-secured territory, we were always escorted
and protected by Humvees crewed by American force protection soldiers.
We would then travel by convoy to sites and inspect the selected
targets. We would arrive back at base camp in the afternoon and
record the information we had obtained. Data collected during site
observations would later be analysed to determine whether weapon
employment had achieved the desired effects.
After dinner we would prepare for the next day with mission briefs
and planning; the day often drawing to a close after 2200 hrs. Days
were long and arduous; we worked in up to 50C heat and carried up
to 20kg extra in the form of protective equipment.
An example of one site the CWEAT team visited was a bunker buried
under layers of soil and concrete, hiding more than 25 compartments.
GPS-guided bombs had hit the structure in two places, while a neighbouring
smaller bunker was hit once. The goal was to eliminate the regimes
command and control. Team members acknowledge the bunker design
was innovative. From the top, it appeared to hide six to eight gymnasium-sized
rooms. But inside, tunnels connected much smaller rooms separated
by thick metal doors.
Instead of using dozens of bombs to entirely destroy the bunker,
air component officials selected a few precision-guided weapons
to achieve specific effects.
One bomb was intended to seal off access to the bunker. A cylindrical
hole revealed the bombs path to the 2.4m-wide entry, which
had lost its heavy concrete roofing. The other was meant to penetrate
to the ground floor of the bunker. It did, yet with the bunkers
extreme compartmentalisation, the blast and fragmentation effects
In coming months, we will conduct briefings for interested parties
to educate the ADF on the CWEAT findings.