Security of Mosul Dam Critical to Iraq
Security of Mosul Dam
Critical to Iraq’s Infrastructure
By Claudette Roulo, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – August 18, 2014 – President Barack Obama has announced that Iraqi
forces, aided by on-going U.S airstrikes, have recaptured Mosul Dam from ISIL
Water flows down the Mosul Dam chute spillway
which was built with a “ski-jump” section to dissipate the energy of
U.S. military officials said American aircraft had conducted
a total of 68 targeted airstrikes since Aug. 8, the majority directed at setting
the conditions for Iraqi security forces to retake the dam. “These strikes were
conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense
forces as they work together to combat ISIL, as well as to protect critical
infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian
efforts,” a release from U.S. Central Command said.
The attacks are aimed at preventing ISIL forces from
receiving reinforcements, Pentagon Spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said, as
well as reducing their defenses. This “will allow [Iraqi security forces] to
conduct maneuvers around the dam,” he explained.
No U.S. military personnel were involved in the ground
operations, the colonel said. “We do have U.S military overhead in these
aircraft that are conducting airstrikes and of course in our [joint operation
centers],” Warren said.
The Mosul Dam captures the flow of the Tigris River,
providing flood control, water and electricity to Mosul’s 1.7 million residents.
First opened in 1986, it is the fourth-largest in the Middle East. “If the Mosul
Dam were to fail, that would lead to a humanitarian disaster,” Warren said.
And failure is a real concern, he added.
Water pours from a waterway at the Mosul hydro-electric dam
The dam’s location was “chosen for reasons other than
geologic or engineering merit,” according to a 2007 report by the Army Corps of
While the report found that the dam itself was
well-constructed, the underlying geology is a cause for “intense concern about
the safety of the structure.” The dam’s bedrock foundation consists of
water-soluble rocks, such as gypsum, marl and limestone, and the presence of the
dam’s reservoir is hastening subsurface dissolution.
The geologic conditions under the dam necessitate
“extraordinary engineering measures to maintain the structural integrity and
operating capability of the dam,” the report said.
A constant program of maintenance is needed to ensure the dam
is not undermined, which could unleash a floodwall that would travel southward
down the Tigris River valley all the way to Baghdad, nearly 300 miles away.
A letter sent by the president to Congress yesterday said the
dam’s failure would endanger the lives of large numbers of civilians, U.S.
personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the
Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on
Twitter: @roulododnews) :
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Report on the Geologic Setting of Mosul Dam and Its
Letter from the President
U.S Central Command
U.S. Central Command News Release
Special Report: Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists in Iraq
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