|February 5th, 2007|
Almost Half Of IEDs In Iraq Defused By GIs info
February 5, 2007
U.S. troops are now finding and defusing nearly half of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, and casualties from the devices are holding steady despite a sharp increase in the number being placed, according to the chief scientist for the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).
The number of IEDs being found and cleared has gone up five- or six-fold since 2004, according to Col. Barry Shoop. The number of monthly IED incidents doubled over the course of 2006, but less than 10 percent are now causing casualties, he said. This is largely due to the effectiveness of jammers that prevent the signal that arms the device, as well as improved vehicle armor.
Nonetheless, IEDs remain the number one killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shoop likened the situation to the U-boat problem of World War II, for which there was no "silver bullet" solution, requiring instead a mix of offensive and defensive capabilities as well as science and technology work to counter the submarines.
Most IEDs in Iraq are made from unspent ammunition, of which the JIEDDO estimates there are 70 million tons still in the country. In Afghanistan the devices are mostly converted land mines. In other countries, IEDs are more likely made of homemade explosives, he said at the Precision Strike Association's Winter Roundtable in Arlington, Va., Feb. 1.
The most lethal type of IED is the Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), which makes up only about 2 percent of the devices found but accounts for a very large percentage of the U.S. soldiers killed by IEDs, Shoop said.
EFPs are often built into replacement curb sections, or fake rocks. They are triggered by passive infrared devices and often armed by a call made to a cell phone. The blasts are set at specific angles to hit the weak points on Humvees and so-called "icon vehicles" such as Strykers and M113s, Shoop said.
To counter the devices, the JIEDDO has been investing in a wide variety of technologies, ranging from jammers to unmanned aerial vehicles to robots such as iRobot's PackBot. A version of PackBot dubbed "Fido" is capable of "sniffing" a potential IED for traces of explosive vapor.
Troops are receiving extensive IED training prior to deployment at the Joint IED Center of Excellence at Ft. Irwin, Calif. There they must train with low-power surrogate jammers, Shoop said, because if the full-power jammers being used overseas were activated domestically they would raise the ire of the Federal Communications Commission and FAA.