Some in the press and anti-war political circles have been scandalized by US military use of white phosphorus munitions in Fallujah, Iraq. Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff USMC, tackled the subject head-on at the Nov. 29 Pentagon briefing, arguing that these so-called “Willy Pete” munitions—for example, 120 mm mortar smoke cartridges fired in Iraq–are “legitimate tools” in close combat situations. He added that WP munitions are used primarily in two situations—to mark a location for a strike by an aircraft and to act as a screen for troop movements. “It is not a chemical, it is an incendiary,” Pace said. As if that matters to some of the learned commentators out there…..
After a long period in which munitions were almost an afterthought and sacrificed to pay for other priorities, the Air Force needs to focus on them in order to have the right “package” of capabilities for future conflicts, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said June 7.