Support: Bosnians Blow Stuff Up Near Baghdad

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March 24, 2006: Bomb disposal experts from the Bosnian army are in Iraq to help clear out the many artillery shells still lying about. There are still thousands of tons of old, Saddam era, munitions on or just below, the ground. Most of it has at least been hastily destroyed. That means the stuff was rigged with explosives where it lay, and quickly detonated. This, however, has left hundreds of tons of items (mostly 152mm artillery shells) that were thrown free by those explosions, without being destroyed. Large artillery shells are prone to this sort of semi-destruction, because these shells are sturdily built, to survive firing out of a cannon.

The Bosnian EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) platoon has lots of experience with this sort of thing, as the civil wars in the Balkans during the 1990s, left the large chunks of the landscape littered with unexploded bombs and shells. So they have come to Iraq to do the same dangerous work. Unlike Bosnia, Iraq has lots of wilderness desert areas where Saddam liked to store his munitions. At the end of the 1980s war with Iran, Iraq had thousands of tons shells, for artillery was the principal weapon for fighting the Iranians (who, with less money, but three times the population, relied more on infantry.) These shells were still sitting in their bunkers, or in piles near artillery units, when Baghdad fell in 2003, and the Iraqi army went home. Since then, many of these 90 pound shells have been taken by terrorists, or entrepreneurs (who extract the explosives, then sell that, and the cut up shell for scrap). So getting all the stray shells collected and destroyed is a dangerous, but very useful task. The Bosnians are one of the few coalition units that contains a majority of Moslem troops.

 


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