Unexploded Ordnances in Libya

John Glaser, June 26, 2012

As further illustration of how Libya was not the victimless war it is still made out to be, the Times reports on unexploded ordnances:

The United Nations said this month that NATO, in an exchange not publicly disclosed, had shared details of 313 possible sites of unexploded ordnance from the alliance’s action against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government last year. The alliance provided the latitude and longitude for each site, the weight of the ordnance and a description of the means of delivery (fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter gunship or naval vessel).

Bravo. At least NATO bothered to disclose where the sites of dangerous unexploded bombs are located. But their report offered no way of addressing the problem, “provided no information about the types of unexploded weapons, or the fuzes used to arm each missile or bomb.”

This information, along with what are known as “render-safe procedures” for each type of weapon, is considered essential by ordnance-clearance teams. It is routinely recorded by modern military forces, via so-called bomb-build sheets, in which each component of a weapon is documented as a weapon is armed and prepared for an aircraft.

Colin King, a former British Army bomb disposal officer and an analyst for IHS Jane’s, said he could see no reason for NATO to withhold ordnance-specific details. “If the damn thing didn’t go off, why wouldn’t you share what it was?” he asked. “People are going to find it anyway. It’s going to be lying on the ground, and it might cost someone their life.”

“It is irresponsible,” Mr. King added. “You are not going to give away much in the way of vital intelligence by saying what it was.”

NATO officially has declined to comment on why this vital information is being kept secret. They also still refuse to comment on the civilian deaths that resulted from their bombing campaign. In a report published last month, Human Rights Watch found NATO killed at least “72 civilian deaths, including 20 women and 24 children.” Nor was there any move to investigate “the absence of a clear military target at seven of the eight sites Human Rights Watch visited,” which raised “concerns of possible laws-of-war violations.”




24 Responses to “Unexploded Ordnances in Libya”

  1. Speaking of Libya, I read a BBC article today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18592789) that warned of AQ’s coordination with African terrorist groups (Boko Haram, al-Shabab, etc), but it was the mention of Mali that particularly caught my eye:

    “Gen Carter Ham said in particular North African al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was probably sharing explosives and funds with Nigeria’s Boko Haram. Speaking in Washington, he said the separatist movement in northern Mali had provided AQIM with a “safe haven”.”

    As we know from AW’s excellent coverage – more specifically the follow-through coverage – of the Libya intervention, Mali rebels responsible for the coup were armed in part (in large part?) by unguarded stockpiles in Libya.

    (Am I remembering that accurately? Correct me if I’m not.)

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