Mideast Stars and Stripes
January 8, 2008 By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes
ARLINGTON, Va. — U.S. forces traveling Iraq’s highways are seeing far fewer attacks from armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators compared to six months ago, according to one U.S. commander.
In July, there were about 20 EFP attacks against coalition forces on Iraq’s main arteries, Col. Charles Flynn, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, told Pentagon reporters Monday.
By December, the number of EFP attacks against coalition forces had dropped to three, Flynn said during a remote briefing from his headquarters.
Attacks of all kinds have dropped, he said, including small-arms fire; indirect fire, which includes mortars and rockets; exploded roadside bombs (including EFPs); and roadside bombs discovered before they exploded.
In December, the number of all these attacks was 28, according to Flynn.
In July, when the 1st BCT arrived in Iraq from Fort Bragg, N.C., to begin its 15-month deployment, the unit logged a total of 92 attacks across all four categories.
Flynn attributed the reduction to several factors, including increased patrols, better intelligence collection methods and the “stand-down” of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in August.
The United Nations-hosted meeting in Baghdad on Sept. 23 between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki appears to have had an effect on cutting down the number of EFPs, he said.
“I think that since the talks in September, there has been what would appear to be reduction in lethal flow of EFP and other ordnance or munitions that have been used in attacks,” Flynn said.
U.S. military officials have accused Iran of supplying Iraqi insurgents with EFPs, beginning last January when they held a news conference in Baghdad that featured fragments of an allegedly Iranian-made munition.
The officials said markings on the EFPs, as well as the machining processes, identified the weapons as being “uniquely” Iranian.
Unlike other Army combat units, the 1st BCT is not a “land owner,” Flynn said.
Instead, the brigade, which is based near Nasariyah in southern Iraq, provides security throughout Iraq for other units, with a special focus on ensuring the country’s major highways are kept safe.
When it comes to highways, Flynn said, the brigade’s No. 1 goal “is reducing EFP attacks.”