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Learn about precision-guided weapons

April 7, 2003
Web posted at: 11:00 PM EDT (0300 GMT)

Overview: U.S.-led forces swept into Baghdad on Monday and took over two of Saddam Hussein's palaces. U.S. troops find drums of chemicals in an Iraqi agricultural compound that may be used for weapons. Further tests are being done to determine whether or not these substances are pesticides. The body of Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed was found in the rubble of his bombed home in the city. The general, a cousin of Saddam, was known as "Chemical Ali" because he allegedly ordered the use of poison gas to kill Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. And an Iraqi missile slammed into a U.S. Army tactical operations center south of Baghdad on Monday, killing four and injuring more than a dozen.

After students read "U.S. troops take positions, presidential palaces in Baghdad" present the following questions:

1. What type of hidden material did U.S. forces discover on Monday? Why are these chemicals being tested? Why might this discovery be important for the allied war effort?

2. What Iraqi official was killed in the coalition bombing last weekend? Why was he known as "Chemical Ali"? What were the circumstances surrounding his death? Why is his death significant for both Iraq and the allied coalition?

3. What is known about the current allied military operations under way inside Baghdad? Which of Saddam's buildings did U.S. troops capture on Monday? Why is the capture of this building important?

4. What U.S. site south of Baghdad was struck by an Iraqi missile on Monday? Why do you think the Iraqi military chose to attack this site? What is the extent of the casualties? How many journalists were killed during the attack?

5. What types of missiles and bombs are being used in the U.S.-led war in Iraq? How do precision-guided weapons differ from conventional weapons? Challenge student groups to conduct research to investigate the answers to these questions and to learn about the evolution and workings of precision-guided weapons, including the use of satellites, computers and the Global Positioning System. After groups share their findings, discuss the use of precision-guided weapons during the Gulf War and the Kosovo conflict and how these weapons changed the face of war. Ask students to consider the impact that precision-guided weapons could have on the outcome of the current war in Iraq.

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