U.S. decided against Apaches, A-10s in Mosul attack

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The U.S. Army said it has limited the use of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in Iraqi civilian areas.

U.S. officials said the army has refrained from using the AH-64A or D model helicopters to avoid collateral damage. They said the decision was based on lessons learned from the war in Iraq in March and April.

The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division decided against the use of the Apaches during an operation to capture the house in Mosul in which the two sons of Saddam Hussein were hiding. Officials said the army also decided against deploying the A-10 Thunderbolt ground-attack aircraft in an effort to prevent collateral damage.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the U.S. coalition forces in Iraq, reviewed the guidelines of the use of military platforms during a briefing on Wednesday on the operation that killed Uday and Qusay Hussein. Sanchez said the Apaches were placed on alert during the battle by U.S. troops in Mosul, Middle East Newsline reported.

But Sanchez said the Apaches were shelved in favor of what is regarded as the less lethal OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter. Two Kiowa Warrior helicopters were deployed for the operation and they fired 2.75-inch rockets toward the home where Saddam's sons were hiding.

Sanchez said U.S. officials considered using AH-64 Apache helicopters and A-10 aircraft. But they said the platforms were not employed because of the prospect that neighboring homes would be damaged.

"During this period we considered employing our Apache helicopters and A-10s to come in and finish the preparation and the neutralization of the target," Sanchez said. "However, the decision was made not to employ the air power because of the high risk of collateral damage given the neighborhood density that we were faced with."

The Apache has been procured by such Middle East allies of the United States as Egypt, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Israel has made extensive use of the Apaches in counter-insurgency operations against Palestinian insurgents in the Gaza Strip.

Other weapons used in the Mosul operation included Mark-19 grenade launchers, AT-4 rockets, and helicopter- and HUMVEE-mounted 50-caliber machine guns. Sanchez said at least 10 Tube-launched Optically tracked Wire-guided, or TOW missiles, were fired into the house. The more modern Javelin anti-tank missile was not used.

"We believe that it is likely that the TOW missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults," Sanchez said.

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