That Missing RDX
NBC reporters embedded with the 101st Airborne are questioning the New York Times report which suggests that US custodial incompetence was responsible for the loss of RDX explosive.
NBC News: Miklaszewski: “April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army's 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing. The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon. In a letter this month, the Iraqi interim government told the International Atomic Energy Agency the high explosives were lost to theft and looting due to lack of security. Critics claim there were simply not enough U.S. troops to guard hundreds of weapons stockpiles, weapons now being used by insurgents and terrorists to wage a guerrilla war in Iraq.” (NBC’s “Nightly News,” 10/25/04)
The withdrawal of enemy resources into safe havens was the subject of Belmont Club's War Plan Orange. In this context, the loss of 380 tons of RDX is similar to worrying about a toothache after being diagnosed with AIDS and Ebola. Some 600,000 tons of explosive are said to have been dispersed throughout Iraq prior to the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The loss of the RDX is serious, but in the overall scheme of things, one of the least worries. But it provides indirect confirmation of the preemptive dispersal of war materiel by the Saddam regime while the US was trying to negotiate UN permission to topple him for six months, compounded by Turkey's refusal to allow the 4ID to attack south into the Sunni Triangle.
The account above shows that the RDX explosive was already gone by the time US forces arrived. Although one may retrospectively find some fault with OIF order of battle, most of the damage had already been inflicted by the dilatory tactics of America's allies which allowed Saddam the time and space -- nearly half a year and undisturbed access to Syria -- necessary to prepare his resistance, transfer money abroad and disperse explosives (as confirmed first hand by reporters). Although it is both desirable and necessary to criticize the mistakes attendant to OIF, much of the really "criminal" neglect may be laid on the diplomatic failure which gave the wily enemy this invaluable opportunity. The price of passing the "Global Test" was very high; and having been gypped once, there are some who are still eager to be taken to the cleaners again.