From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal

By Roger Hilsman | Go to book overview

cans. Of the 467 wounded, friendly fire was responsible for 72. Among the Allies, nine British soldiers were killed by American A-10 warplanes. On another occasion, two more British soldiers were also killed by friendly fire. There is no information on casualties among the other Allies from friendly fire.

A 1986 Army study of earlier wars concluded that in all the wars from World War I through Vietnam the casualties from friendly fire were less than 2 percent. In the Gulf War, friendly fire was responsible for 23 percent of those killed and 15 percent of the wounded.

All the M1A1 tank casualties were caused by friendly fire. The American forces used armor-piercing ammunition made of depleted uranium. These shells leave a small but detectable trace of radioactivity, and all the U.S. tanks knocked out showed this tell-tale trace. Actually, probably none of the conventional, armorpiercing ammunition used by the Iraqi forces would have been capable of piercing the extremely thick and hard, depleted uranium armor on the M1A1s.

There were a total of twenty-eight friendly fire incidents. U.S. ground forces attacked other U.S. ground forces sixteen times, killing 24 Americans and wounding 57. American airplanes attacked American ground forces nine times, with 11 killed and 154 wounded. One American warship attacked another American warship, but there were no casualties. One American ground force unit attacked an American Navy jet, but again there were no casualties.

One explanation for the high casualties from friendly fire is that the technology for killing at a distance has outdistanced the technology for distinguishing between friend and foe. Another reason was offered by Colonel Roy Alcala, an aide to General Carl Vuono, at that time chief of staff of the Army. Colonel Alcala pointed out that the percentages in the Gulf War were skewed because "in previous wars a lot of people died from things that didn't happen in this war -- the other side fighting back." 2 If the other side does not fight back, the only casualties tend to be those inflicted by your own forces, so the percentage of total casualties caused by friendly fire is much higher.


NOTES
1
This section draws on Chapter 12, "Postmortem on the War," of Roger Hilsman, George Bush vs. Saddam Hussein: Military Success! Political Failure? ( Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1992).
2
Barton Gellman, "Gulf War's Friendly Fire Tally Triples", Washington Post, 14 August 1991, pp. 1, 26.

-122-

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From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xiv
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - The First Attempts at Nuclear Strategy 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Manhattan Project and Early Strategic Thinking 3
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Nuclear Strategy and the Attack on Korea 16
  • Notes 27
  • Chapter 3 - New Look, Massive Retaliation, and Flexible Response 28
  • Notes 39
  • Chapter 4 - The H-Bomb and the Balance of Terror 40
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 5 - The Debate on Nuclear Strategy 49
  • Notes 55
  • Part II - The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Case Study of Nuclear Strategy 57
  • Chpter 6 - The Crisis 59
  • Notes 70
  • Chapter 7 - The Significance 71
  • Note 77
  • Chapter 8 - McNamara II, the Schlesinger Doctrine, and Star Wars 81
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter 9 - No First Use, Counterforce, and Mad as a Strategy 95
  • Notes 103
  • Chapter 10 - The Breakup of the Soviet Union and the Bush -- Yeltsin Agreement 105
  • Notes 113
  • Part IV - The World Turned Upside Down 115
  • A Chapter 11 - Developments in Weapons 117
  • Notes 122
  • Chapter 12 - The Members of the Nuclear Club and Their Arms 123
  • Notes 138
  • Chapter 13 - Soviet, Chinese, and European Nuclear Strategy 139
  • Notes 147
  • Chapter 14 - Armageddon: Six Scenarios of Nuclear War 148
  • Notes 163
  • Part V - Arms Control and Disarmament 165
  • Chapter 15 - The History of Arms Control 167
  • Notes 179
  • Chapter 16 - The Prospects for Arms Control 180
  • Notes 186
  • Part VI - Why War? 187
  • Chapter 17 - The Social and Political Functions of War 189
  • Chapter 18 - Nationalism 198
  • Notes 210
  • Chapter 19 - A World Political Process Without World Government? 211
  • Notes 225
  • Chapter 20 - A Curious Creature 227
  • Notes 230
  • Part VII - Conclusions 231
  • Chapter 21 - A Long-Term Solution, a Medium-Term Compromise, and a Short-Term Stopgap 233
  • Chapter 22 - The Lessons of the "Small Wars" Since World War II 238
  • Notes 256
  • Chapter 23 - Humanitarian and Peacekeeping Forces 259
  • Notes 274
  • Chapter 24 - Conventional Forces for the Medium-Term Compromise 278
  • Notes 290
  • Chapter 25 - Nuclear Forces for the Short- Term Stopgap 291
  • Notes 304
  • Index 305
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