California: Mortars discovered, highway shut down

Almost Heaven

Well-Known Member
Discovery of several hazardous objects, on a weekend when the federal government is warning police about terrorism, forced the closure of Route 163 between Balboa Park and Mission Valley on Saturday.

San Diego Fire-Rescue dispatchers said their bomb squad was rolling to an undisclosed location on the freeway, north of University Avenue and south of Friars Road. That stretch of Highway 163 includes its interchange with Interstate 8.

The CHP shut down Route 163 in both directions from Friars Road to University Avenue, including the interchange with I-8 in Mission Valley. At around 3:15 p.m. the freeway was once again opened to all traffic.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson said he did not know what the objects found were, but “it wasn’t anything dangerous.”

The objects were later identified as mortars.

The scare comes as federal anti-terrorism agencies have warned local police agencies of possible terrorist acts around the July 4 holiday.

In a joint bulletin, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security did not warn of any known active plot, but did warn that extremists could launch attacks tied to Independence Day or in reaction to perceived defamation of the Prophet Mohammed.

“We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared,” the statement read, in part. “We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people.”


Well-Known Member
So exactly what are mortars? And is that true that they are not dangerous?
It may be 'true' if you're a liberal and think terrorists just need jobs and hugs. has become a valuable tool for infantry units. Many commanders use mortars as a kind of pocket artillery battery. Because mortars are light enough to be carried they can accompany infantry units through rugged terrain a vehicle could not.


Mortars are also a favored weapon of guerrillas and terrorists. A mortar does not have to see the target to fire at it. Mortars can fire over hills, buildings, rivers, ect. A mortar crew usually consists of at least three members.

The mortar is good for more than just 'blowing up' the enemy. There are numerous types of mortar rounds that are usually available. High explosives are the most common. Smoke rounds are used to conceal friendly movement or mark enemy positions for air strikes. It should be noted that smoke rounds are best fired on the enemy instead of friendly troops. This way friendly forces are less restricted by the use of smoke and don't 'come out of the smoke into waiting enemy machine guns.' while the enemy cannot even see his fellow soldiers.

White Phosphorus is another favorite. It burns, even under water and the fumes are toxic. It is not fun to sit in a fighting hole while everything burns down around you have to breath toxic fumes. While the fumes do not kill someone who breaths them, like nerve gas, they are not exactly harmless either. White Phosphorus or WP can also be used to mark a target for air strikes because it generates a lot of smoke and is visible to a fast moving attack fighter.

Another good round is the Illumination round. The Illum round basically fires a powerful parachute flare into the sky that can provide a great deal of light for night fighting.

There is presently an artillery round that is fired up into the sky where a sensor targets armored vehicles below it. Because the round attacks weaker top armor it can be very effective. It may be only a matter of time before this type of round is designed for the mortar.


Because a mortar team is usually pretty small, they can move rapidly and undetected. A mortar raid is a favorite guerrilla tactic. A small mortar team infiltrates into an area with a limited amount of ammo. Fires off the ammo and retreats before the enemy can respond.

If the enemy is in protected positions (with overhead cover) mortars may still inflict casualties but perhaps more important, random mortar attacks can demoralize the enemy.

Edit: Perhaps they were Illumination rounds? Even if that is the case, it still brings up quite a few questions.