“One Big Ordnance Dump”

The LA Times reports that all the weapons seized in Fallouja made the city “one big ordnance dump” on a scale far surpassing other combat zones:

Dailey, who has spent 15 of his 23 years as a Marine in the explosive ordnance disposal unit, served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in missions in Somalia and Kosovo. Somalia, he said, was packed with explosives. “It was an EOD technicians’ playground.”

But nothing compares with Iraq, particularly Fallouja, in terms of the amount, diversity and lethal capacity of ordnance in the hands of insurgents. “This one takes the cake,” Dailey said.

There are indications that when the Iraqi economy was in near-collapse, ordnance became a kind of currency, with civilians being paid with grenades or rockets, which could then be bartered for food and other goods.

Combat troops said it was not uncommon to find homes with entire rooms used as warehouses for ordnance, much like an American home might have a spare room with athletic equipment or housecleaning tools.

To put this in perspective, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency required a mere six months to clean the UN-run Jenin refugee camp of unexploded ordnance and ammunition—at a cost of $391,000.

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