US army digs up weapons cache in Iraq
Updated: 2005-12-21 08:39
U.S. soldiers in the northern Iraqi desert dug up more than 1,000 aging
rockets and missiles wrapped in plastic, some of which were buried as recently
as two weeks ago, Army officials said Tuesday.
Commanders in the 101st Airborne Division said an Iraqi tipped them off to
the buried weapons, perhaps an indication that residents in this largely Sunni
Arab region about 150 miles north of Baghdad are beginning to warm up to
"The tide is turning," said 2nd Lt. Patrick Vardaro, 23, of Norwood, Mass., a
platoon leader in the division's 187th Infantry Regiment. "It's better to work
with Americans than against us."
As the sun set, soldiers from the 101st continued to uncover more, following
zigzagging tire tracks across the desert floor and using metal detectors to
locate weapons including mines, mortars and machine gun rounds.
"This is the mother load, right here," Sgt. Jeremy Galusha, 25, of Dallas,
Ore., said, leaning on a shovel after finding more than 20 Soviet missiles.
The weapons are of primary concern for soldiers in Iraq, where bombs made
with loose ordinance by insurgents are the preferred method to target coalition
Iraqi soldiers display an array of weapons at
the customs police headquarters in Najaf, Iraq, Sunday Dec. 18, 2005. The
weapons cache was found in the desert some 70 kilometers (43 miles ) west
of Najaf. [AP]
"In our eyes, every one of these rockets represents one less" bomb, Vardaro
Vardaro would not comment on whether there were signs the caches had been
used recently to make bombs. But service records accompanying the missiles dated
to 1984, suggesting they were buried by the Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein.
Still, the plastic around some of the rockets ¡ª of Soviet, German and French
origins ¡ª appeared to be fresh and had not deteriorated as it had on some of the
A U.S. Air Force explosive ordinance team planned to begin destroying them as
early as Wednesday morning.