January 9, 2007

Puff the Magic Dragon in Somolia

The US has launched air strikes in Somalia, supposedly to "get" Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who allegedly planned the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 225 people. The use of AC-130 gunships implies that the US could have killed a similar number of people if the attack was in a populated area.

AC-130 gunships (and AC-47s), known in the Vietnam war as "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Spooky," were said to be able to shoot a large bullet into every square foot of an area the size of a football field at 18,000 bullets per minute (three guns at 6,000/min.)
"On a typical black starless night in July, 1973 "Spooky" lifted into the sky over Bien Hoa. Like a vulture "Spooky" slowly circled its target at 2,000 feet and with all [three] its guns blazing, [each] at the rate of 6,000 rounds a minute, there was no place to hide. "Whoever built 'Puff' had a sick mind." said one soldier. "At night it looked like a red line of light coming from the heavens, like Hell leaking fire.

Here's another account from the Vietnam era. The weapons AC-130s carry today are surely more lethal than in the 1960's.... meaning they can cover more area more quickly... 'cuz ya can't get more "lethal" than the following description:

"Once 'Puff' had done his work on a North Vietnamese Army company and we went out on patrol to count bodies," said another soldier. "We walked for about a mile and didn't see anything. First we could smell it, and then we couldn't believe what we saw. What was once 200 men was now a stream of slush. 'Puff' had shredded them to bits leaving nothing but communist mush. It was just like putting 200 men through a meat grinder."

Where I come from we call this "over kill." This isn't new in Somalia, or anywhere the US operates for that matter. The military doctrine of "overwhealming force," is what has lead to a significant increase in civilian deaths when the US engages in military actions.

The larger question is, "what's the US doing engaged in open warfare in Somalia?" Oh yea, the blank-check "war on terror." Add this to weighing the question "Has World War III Started?"


Preliminary reports indicate 10-30 deaths, including a four-year-old and a newly married couple.

Interview with Salim Lone, former spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq and a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya. Second interview with Salim Lone.

The world does want to help the US end terror, but the way the US repeatedly is doing it, from Iraq and Afghanistan to now in Somalia, this will increase the amount of terrorism that exists in the world and certainly in this region. It is a totally brutal attack that has killed many civilians. There was no need to do it this way. There are other ways to fight terror. And in this particular case, the best way to fight terror was to work with the Islamic Courts Union, which had lots of support and controlled virtually all of southern Somalia.

Technical Note:

According to Andrew Warinner, "there was a Vietnam weapon nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon." It was the AC-47 gunship. "Puff" was the venerable C-47 Dakota airplane (essentially a Douglas DC-3) converted to hold a whole lot weaponry and used in close air support. "Puff" is also used to refer to the AC-130 gunship but it's nickname was "Spooky" or "Spectre." Since the AC-47 was first used in Vietnam in October 1964 and the AC-130 was first used 1967 they cannot be the inspiration for a song written in 1958 and copyrighted in 1963."

Photo Credit: Screaming Cricket


Anonymous said...

Earlier versions of "Spooky's" had up to 10 0.30 calibre machine guns fitted, later replaced by 20mm gatling guns or even 40-75mm cannon, incidentally the C-47 was only called 'Dakota' when used by British Forces the proper Douglas name was 'Skytrain'.

GDAEman said...

Thanks for your comment. This killing machine was highlighted in the testimony of at least two US vets back from Iraq. See the Winter Soldier Hearings: Iraq & Afghanistan, 2008.