Friday, September 06, 2013

Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) - Syria and Peleliu

This week a State Department program dedicated to eliminating the dangers of explosive remnants of war (ERWs) continues to remove bombs, landmines and canisters seventy four years after WWII in Palau Island group.

This week and last week Secretary of State John Kerry has made the rounds of TV news, cable and the United States Congress to make the case of  adding explosives to the surface of Syria.

Syria is a former French colony in the Middle East that evolved to become government for the Assad family of tall male John Cleese look-alikes given to looting and killing Syrians as well as Israel.  The Palua Island group is a lush volcanic chain of islands in the Pacific of which Peleliu is memorable for being turned into charcoal biquet and gave of thousands of Americans in 1944.
In Palau, the non-governmental organization Cleared Ground Demining (CGD) operates a program centered on the island of Peleliu, where for 74 fierce days in late 1944, American forces battled the island’s Japanese defenders.  The scorched earth, and the charred remains of trees and vehicles have long since given way to lush greenery on Peleliu.  A few pillboxes and artillery emplacements still stand, and oil drums, canteens and other war relics still litter the jungle.  However, ERW remain the most dangerous reminders of the fierce combat that swept over the island.  Loose bullets, machine gun bands, mortars and large aerial bombs contrast with the beautiful scenery on land and in the waters around Peleliu, making this picturesque landscape dangerous for the locals, for development and for tourists.  U.S. funding helps CGD to build local capacity to deal with the negative effects of ERW by training Palauan teams to conduct battle area clearance, explosive ordnance disposal spot tasks, and risk education campaigns.  U.S. funding has supported the clearance of suspected hazardous land adjacent to Peleliu’s only power plant, and this coming year, CGD will clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) along a planned pipeline that will supply the residents of Peleliu with running water. -  

The Battle Peleliu was a horrific strategic miscalculation described by military historians as 'unavoidable and unnecessary.' WWII memorrialist Eugene Sledge wrote, " The 1st Marine Division was ordered to seize Peleliu in the Palau Islands, to secure General Douglas MacArthur's right flank for his return to the Philippines. D-Day was 15 September 1944. Our commanding general predicted a three-day battle?a gross miscalculation. The Peleliu campaign turned into one of the bloodiest, most vicious battles of World War II."

Syria has been an Arab Spring meat-grinder for years.  The Assad Family has long been allied to Russia and the Soviet Union before that.  Since Jimmy Carter's American Malaise foreign policy of the late 1970's, Syria has been as tight as ticks with Ayatollah's of Iran.  The Ayatollah's spent their exile years away from the Shah in Paris melding Marxism with Mohammad.  Syria is chock full of chemical weapons, just like the ones used by Saddam Hussein on the Kurds of Iraq.

President Obama is now aware of those Weapons of Mass Destruction and is determined to drop ordinance on Syria.  John Kerry, who dined and cocktailed with Mr. & Mrs. Assad,  is doing his patrician best to see that President Obama gets his wish.

John Kerry's State Department task force on ERWs is cleaning up Peleliu's ordinance.

Peleliu and Syria share the month of September.  The strategists who demanded the invasion Peleliu on Sept 15, 1944 are not unlike the folks who can not give straight answer on the Benghazi massacre that took place on September 11th 2012. Peleliu was taken only with valor and blood in a redundant exercise of ego.

The awful struggle was a testament to the skill and bravery of the Marines against a tenacious foe. But our division intelligence section lacked critical information regarding:
  • The large coral ridge complex, containing more than 500 connecting caves.
  • The enemy plan to conserve manpower and fight a battle of attrition.
  • Enemy plans for intensive night infiltration, greater than Marines had previously experienced.
There had never been anything like Peleliu in the Pacific. It set the stage for the bloodbaths of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. But they had strategic significance. As it turned out, MacArthur walked into the Philippines with little opposition. I shall always harbor a deep sense of bitterness and grief over the suffering and loss of so many fine Marines on Peleliu for no good reason. It was my privilege to fight alongside them, fine, courageous, loyal and dependable men who filled the ranks of the finest division in World War II.
We must never forget them. (emphasis my own)

Sadly, Professor Sledge, the people we elect remember nothing.

Oil paintings of Peleiu by WWII combat artist Tom Lea - I asked my Congressman Dan Lipinski (D 3rd) to vote against this looming Syrian Peleliu.

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