High-res The Secret Victims of Iraq’s Chemical Arms
Aged shells and warheads. Officers who ordered wounded troops to silence. Substandard medical care (and even denial of treatment) to Iraqis and Americans who were exposed. American-designed mustard shells in the corroded vestiges of Saddam Hussein’s old chemical stockpile.  Honors denied to troops who served in some of the most dangerous jobs of the most recent Iraq War.
On The New York Times: An untold chronicle of the United States’ long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

An investigation many months in works, and at last in print. Heres why:  
Reporting was contributed by John Ismay, Duraid Ahmed, Omar al-Jawoshy, Mac William Bishop and Eric Schmitt. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.
Produced by Craig Allen, David Furst, Alicia DeSantis, Sergio Peçanha, Shreeya Sinha, Frank O’Connell, Derek Watkins and Josh Williams.
With editing by Michael Slackman and Matt Purdy, and photographs by Tyler Hicks
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
Leaking 155-mm mustard agent shells among those that wounded five American soldiers near Taji, Iraq in 2008

The Secret Victims of Iraq’s Chemical Arms

Aged shells and warheads. Officers who ordered wounded troops to silence. Substandard medical care (and even denial of treatment) to Iraqis and Americans who were exposed. American-designed mustard shells in the corroded vestiges of Saddam Hussein’s old chemical stockpile.  Honors denied to troops who served in some of the most dangerous jobs of the most recent Iraq War.

On The New York Times: An untold chronicle of the United States’ long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

An investigation many months in works, and at last in print. Heres why:  

Reporting was contributed by John Ismay, Duraid Ahmed, Omar al-Jawoshy, Mac William Bishop and Eric Schmitt. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Produced by Craig Allen, David Furst, Alicia DeSantis, Sergio Peçanha, Shreeya Sinha, Frank O’Connell, Derek Watkins and Josh Williams.

With editing by Michael Slackman and Matt Purdy, and photographs by Tyler Hicks

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

Leaking 155-mm mustard agent shells among those that wounded five American soldiers near Taji, Iraq in 2008

High-res American Ammunition in Islamic State’s Hands.
Documented in detail with a fine bit of field research by Conflict Armament Research, a private organization that tracks weapons and the arms trade.
Details here. Brief excerpt below.






In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization. 
The data, part of a larger sample of captured arms and cartridges in Syria and Iraq, carries an implicit warning for policy makers and advocates of intervention. 
It suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role. 
“The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition,” said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, the organization that is gathering and analyzing weapons used by the Islamic State. 






ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
An unfired 5.56-mm cartridge from Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, dated 2006, seized from Islamic State by Kurdish fighters in Iraq in July. Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research.
 

American Ammunition in Islamic State’s Hands.

Documented in detail with a fine bit of field research by Conflict Armament Research, a private organization that tracks weapons and the arms trade.

Details here. Brief excerpt below.

In its campaign across northern Syria and Iraq, the jihadist group Islamic State has been using ammunition from the United States and other countries that have been supporting the regional security forces fighting the group, according to new field data gathered by a private arms-tracking organization.

The data, part of a larger sample of captured arms and cartridges in Syria and Iraq, carries an implicit warning for policy makers and advocates of intervention.

It suggests that ammunition transferred into Syria and Iraq to help stabilize governments has instead passed from the governments to the jihadists, helping to fuel the Islamic State’s rise and persistent combat power. Rifle cartridges from the United States, the sample shows, have played a significant role.

“The lesson learned here is that the defense and security forces that have been supplied ammunition by external nations really don’t have the capacity to maintain custody of that ammunition,” said James Bevan, director of Conflict Armament Research, the organization that is gathering and analyzing weapons used by the Islamic State. 

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

An unfired 5.56-mm cartridge from Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, dated 2006, seized from Islamic State by Kurdish fighters in Iraq in July. Courtesy of Conflict Armament Research.

 

High-res DIY Arms go next-level.  This club-and-bolt arrangement is not from the Maidan, though it would have fit in neatly there. Enough misdirection; it was not even built for men to use against men. It’s fish baton, a species of tool my father calls a Priest, and it was made and sent by a reader to the editorial offices of Field & Stream. It hangs in the cubicle of @cmkearns, who allowed me (as owners of unusual weapons and tools often do) to bag it for the archive. Partial Disclosure: We keep a Priest on our boat. Full disclosure: It is less menacing than this guy, and we resort to it only rarely. Nagging Afterthought: One puzzles over the fish its maker must have expected to catch. #knowyourfood #knowyourtools #useyourhands

DIY Arms go next-level. This club-and-bolt arrangement is not from the Maidan, though it would have fit in neatly there. Enough misdirection; it was not even built for men to use against men. It’s fish baton, a species of tool my father calls a Priest, and it was made and sent by a reader to the editorial offices of Field & Stream. It hangs in the cubicle of @cmkearns, who allowed me (as owners of unusual weapons and tools often do) to bag it for the archive. Partial Disclosure: We keep a Priest on our boat. Full disclosure: It is less menacing than this guy, and we resort to it only rarely. Nagging Afterthought: One puzzles over the fish its maker must have expected to catch. #knowyourfood #knowyourtools #useyourhands

High-res From the Workbench:  Another Workshop-Grade Anti-Material Sniper Rifle.
This one, under development, is said to be chambered in 14.5mm, like a KPV heavy machine-gun  or a PTRD-41, another descendant of the Soviet arms-production heyday. (The weapon is built around a Soviet cartridge designed in the 1930s, and still produced and widely available on battlefields today.)
The rifle looks unwieldy, naturally, though not as unwieldy as this.
How well it works can’t be told from a single photograph, of the very limited Facebook post, by a Kurd who claims allegiance to The Islamic Front. It appears in any event to have been incomplete when this photo was made.
It is a reminder that the longer the the wars in the Middle East continue, the more arms shops like this one, and efforts like this or this, will be incubated. Rebels call this kind of project the natural outcome of necessity.  The risks associated with this kind of necessity will likely reverberate for many years.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH
From the FB page of Dr. Abdul Karim Kurdi.

From the Workbench:  Another Workshop-Grade Anti-Material Sniper Rifle.

This one, under development, is said to be chambered in 14.5mm, like a KPV heavy machine-gun  or a PTRD-41, another descendant of the Soviet arms-production heyday. (The weapon is built around a Soviet cartridge designed in the 1930s, and still produced and widely available on battlefields today.)

The rifle looks unwieldy, naturally, though not as unwieldy as this.

How well it works can’t be told from a single photograph, of the very limited Facebook post, by a Kurd who claims allegiance to The Islamic Front. It appears in any event to have been incomplete when this photo was made.

It is a reminder that the longer the the wars in the Middle East continue, the more arms shops like this one, and efforts like this or this, will be incubated. Rebels call this kind of project the natural outcome of necessity.  The risks associated with this kind of necessity will likely reverberate for many years.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH

From the FB page of Dr. Abdul Karim Kurdi.

High-res New Reads on the Arms Trade.
Buzzfeed and Reuters weigh in with separate pieces on the shadowy workings of two arms-trafficking heavyweights: the governments of the United States and Russia.
First, Aram Roston’s story on Ara Dolarian, a former pig trader turned arms dealer, and his business funneling arms from the former Eastern Bloc to a host of U.S.-endorsed recipients. A very useful look at how the United States continues to channel weapons to proxies and clients in multiple wars (none of which, it should be noted, that have turned out very well), and to work with dealers and trafficking networks with checkered records.
Next, Reuters publishes a special report claiming that a shoulder-fired, heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile used by Ukrainian separatists appears to have come, very recently, from Russian Defense Ministry stocks. The missile, one of the earlier variants of the very capable Igla class, was allegedly linked to Russia by a logbook confiscated by the Ukrainian government. This is a serious allegation, and presented in the service of trying to define what Ukraine and the United States say has been a steep uptick in the past two months in arms Russia has been providing to separatists. It also stands as a further step toward implicating another apparent exporter in the illicit distribution of anti-aircraft missiles, weapons that are coveted by terrorists and pose grave risks to civilian aviation.
All of the above said, the Reuters special report has a curious character. Given that Ukraine has made similar claims for many weeks, the wire-service’s special report might have attributed previous published work that also presented a point-by-point allegation about Igla transfers from Russian stocks to eastern Ukraine. Here is an example, by Nic R. Jenzen-Jones from mid-June. It is basically the identical allegation made with the same type of records, provided by Kiev. 
The Reuters report is still valuable and welcome. It would not have hurt the story to nod to those laboring in the same patch, and who had already framed the same argument in print. 
Back to that former pig trader.

Over the last decade, the U.S. has sent more than 700,000 weapons — the vast majority foreign-made small arms — to Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama has staked his strategy on training and arming the army and police. Likewise, in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, the U.S. disbanded the security forces only to rebuild and rearm new ones for eight years, sending over a million weapons by some estimates. The majority of these were Russian-designed small arms.

These are the types of arms that Dolarian, a man the state of California banned from selling certain financial securities, was given U.S. tax dollars to purchase.

New Reads on the Arms Trade.

Buzzfeed and Reuters weigh in with separate pieces on the shadowy workings of two arms-trafficking heavyweights: the governments of the United States and Russia.

First, Aram Roston’s story on Ara Dolarian, a former pig trader turned arms dealer, and his business funneling arms from the former Eastern Bloc to a host of U.S.-endorsed recipients. A very useful look at how the United States continues to channel weapons to proxies and clients in multiple wars (none of which, it should be noted, that have turned out very well), and to work with dealers and trafficking networks with checkered records.

Next, Reuters publishes a special report claiming that a shoulder-fired, heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile used by Ukrainian separatists appears to have come, very recently, from Russian Defense Ministry stocks. The missile, one of the earlier variants of the very capable Igla class, was allegedly linked to Russia by a logbook confiscated by the Ukrainian government. This is a serious allegation, and presented in the service of trying to define what Ukraine and the United States say has been a steep uptick in the past two months in arms Russia has been providing to separatists. It also stands as a further step toward implicating another apparent exporter in the illicit distribution of anti-aircraft missiles, weapons that are coveted by terrorists and pose grave risks to civilian aviation.

All of the above said, the Reuters special report has a curious character. Given that Ukraine has made similar claims for many weeks, the wire-service’s special report might have attributed previous published work that also presented a point-by-point allegation about Igla transfers from Russian stocks to eastern Ukraine. Here is an example, by Nic R. Jenzen-Jones from mid-June. It is basically the identical allegation made with the same type of records, provided by Kiev. 

The Reuters report is still valuable and welcome. It would not have hurt the story to nod to those laboring in the same patch, and who had already framed the same argument in print. 

Back to that former pig trader.

Over the last decade, the U.S. has sent more than 700,000 weapons — the vast majority foreign-made small arms — to Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama has staked his strategy on training and arming the army and police. Likewise, in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, the U.S. disbanded the security forces only to rebuild and rearm new ones for eight years, sending over a million weapons by some estimates. The majority of these were Russian-designed small arms.

These are the types of arms that Dolarian, a man the state of California banned from selling certain financial securities, was given U.S. tax dollars to purchase.