Hundreds of jet sorties a day during the first week in March indicate the Pentagon is targeting just about everything in southern Iraq in advance of declared hostilities. They foretell the sluice of hot whirling metal that is about to fall, a rain of high explosive that has moved the military into overdrive trying to explain how mass meat-grinding will be avoided.
Some of the new wonder-tools of salvation will be precision bombing and software! Among the programs that will be employed to spare the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians will be a glop of special-purpose code called Bugsplat.
Its name should give pause to the cheerleaders for bleeding-edge war technology and its alleged ability to mathematically reduce collateral death to nigh on zero. In the desire for surgical slaughter, a number in the military believe mercy can be delivered through algorithm, overlooking that Bugsplat's so-called magic is derived from the oppositethe optimization of bombing runs.
Bugsplat comes with the Combat Weapons Delivery Software, "the single source for aircraft weapon delivery planning for all fighter and bomber mission planning in the US Air Force," brightly declares one USAF Web page. "[The software] provides target area attack planning for conventional, laser guided and nuclear munition employment for fighter and bomber aircraft using level, dive, loft, and dive toss deliveries . . . "
The attack-modeling software "is provided on CD-ROM" for bombing planners, and its "major enhancements" include a penetration and cratering tool "to determine impact angle," "Bugsplat plot capability for collateral damage estimation," and "fragment travel boundaries for deconfliction."
What "deconfliction" means is hard to tell, but it's certainly not good.
The Bugsplat component, so named either for the blobs it generates to represent bomb blast damage or, quite likely, what happens to people caught within range of explosions, will be usedwe are toldto help weaponeers choose just the right bomb for the Saddam situation.
Pentagon briefers call this a "mitigation technique."
For example, when a 2000-pound soldier-squasher would be too much for a target only a couple hundred feet from a school, Bugsplat would enable commanders to suggest a lesser sizelike a 500-pounder. Or if that school is 2000 feet away, Bugsplat information could be used to recommend an even bigger bomb! Hey, we just figured that out without software! The school is surely saved! Simple as weeding the garden.
Bugsplat has never been used in total war or on people. Manufacturer not responsible for misuse of software. No liability will be assumed by manufacturer if use of software results in pain, death, and disfigurement. Double-click on "Accept" if you consent to this licensing agreement.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.