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Why no blackouts in Baghdad?

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  • Why no blackouts in Baghdad?

    I know the advent of night vision and various navigation systems have made combat at night much easier, I would still think that it would be a good idea to blackout Iraq's most important target, Baghdad. The television feeds from Baghdad at night always show a fully illuminated city, and I noticed this in the first Gulf War too. Even with the night fighting technology available, wouldn't a blackout make it at least a bit more difficult for the American forces? Surely Saddam would try absolutely anything (especially something so simple as a blackout) that makes things more difficult.

    I imagine myself as a soldier in the desert, many miles outside of Baghdad, looking into the night sky and seeing this giant beacon of light, guiding me to my objective.

    Maybe I've just read too many WW2 history books, when city blackouts were the norm.

  • #2
    Eventually Bagdad will become blacked out. However, to do this, the air planes will have to kill down the power plants. This will directly affect the quality of life of the citizens and I believe the U.S. don't want to do this for now, unless it becomes necessary to lay siege to Bagdad.

    It seems to me the American forces are really doing their utmost for now in preventing civilian casualties and problems. After all, Bush told the Iraqis they are there to liberate them and topple the regime, not kill 'em all, so the Americans need to mean it.

    And it is also necessary to preserve the country's infrastructure as much as possible - don't forget that Iraq will need to be rebuilt after the war. Better try to limit any unecessary damage.

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    • #3
      In many cases, lights create a glare when viewed through NVGs. Even so with JDAMs, which are GPS guided, it wouldn't make any difference whether the lights were on or not.
      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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      • #4
        They'll take the power down if they have to actually go into Baghdad.
        "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

        – Associate Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States.

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        • #5
          Usually, one of the main reasons to disable electric power in cities under air attack is to disable the radar systems of the air defenses. The missiles and guns themself can live without external power, but the radars are huge takers, usually they don't have local generators big enough.

          In the past days, however, the Baghdag airdefenses did not use their radar. They are firing a wall of explosives into the way of oncoming aircraft, not targetting individual planes. The only exception were shots at the very first F-117s. They do that because they know that any radar system becoming active will immideately fall victim to a SEAD planes (radar-homing missles). Belgrade did the same in 1999 and it worked well.

          For the Americans it is a huge PR win to leave the electric net intact so obviously this advantage outweights the combat disadvantages for now.
          Last edited by Redwolf; 22 Mar 03, 08:40.

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          • #6
            Rather than cutting the power to the city, couldn't Saddam try to enforce a residential/industrial blackout? I'm thinking back to WW2, when street lights were turned off, homes turned lights off or boarded over windows, etc. You don't need to cut the power to airdefences and other such installations. I'm sure the warplanes bombing Baghdad at night have no difficulty in finding Baghdad, even without the use of any navigational or night vision equipment. Forcing them to use these technologies just to find the city, would add a level of difficulty (even if minor), wouldn't it?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Martin Schenkel
              Rather than cutting the power to the city, couldn't Saddam try to enforce a residential/industrial blackout? I'm thinking back to WW2, when street lights were turned off, homes turned lights off or boarded over windows, etc. You don't need to cut the power to airdefences and other such installations. I'm sure the warplanes bombing Baghdad at night have no difficulty in finding Baghdad, even without the use of any navigational or night vision equipment. Forcing them to use these technologies just to find the city, would add a level of difficulty (even if minor), wouldn't it?
              Not really. Most modern military A/C, and probably ALL US A/C, have GPS navigation systems. Type in the coordinates of where you are and the coordinates of where you want to go and the A/C almost flies itself to destination.
              Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tigersqn


                Not really. Most modern military A/C, and probably ALL US A/C, have GPS navigation systems. Type in the coordinates of where you are and the coordinates of where you want to go and the A/C almost flies itself to destination.
                Psychologically though, wouldn't there be a difference from following numbers off a digitized display, as opposed to actually seeing a giant beacon of light off in the distance? Being able to see your target with your own eyes rather than on some sort of an optical display, still makes things easier, dosen't it?

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                • #9
                  I've never flown in a modern fighter or bomber but I'm guessing the view isn't that good based on the altitude and speed they travel.
                  "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

                  Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

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                  • #10
                    .....In general, what I was trying to get at (from my own experience in navigation), was that an actual visual reference point makes things a bit easier.

                    Then again, these are highly skilled professionals trained in these sorts of operations, whereas I'm just some dumbass trying hard not to get lost

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Martin Schenkel

                      Then again, these are highly skilled professionals trained in these sorts of operations, whereas I'm just some dumbass trying hard not to get lost
                      Oh don't worry, a lot of pilots are just dumbasses trying hard not to get lost.

                      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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                      • #12
                        I think they are keeping Iraqi tv on for intelligence purposes.

                        It helps them determine who is alive or dead among the iraqi leadership, and provides clues to their possible whereabouts.

                        I have to say the Iraqis have made quite asses out of themselves thus far.
                        "Speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own Michael Moore, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities." - Christopher Hitchens

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