IEDs: Iraq rebels' deadly weapon against US troops




 
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October 24th, 2005  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: IEDs: Iraq rebels' deadly weapon against US troops


by Carlos Hamann

BAGHDAD, Oct 24 (AFP) - The most powerful military force in the world faces
a steady loss of life in Iraq from makeshift bombs planted by or even under
the roadside -- deadly items soldiers call improvised explosive devices, or
IEDs.

While the euphemism is a catch-all term that also includes small bombs made
with home-made explosives, in Iraq it more often refers to bombs built by
insurgents using military-grade ammunition.

"They are unique in nature because the IED builder has had to improvise with
the materials at hand," according to a description by GlobalSecurity.org, a
Washington-based group that follows military issues.

The US-led force that invaded Iraq in March 2003 toppled the regime of
Saddam Hussein with lightning speed, but did not assign enough soldiers to
guard abandoned Iraqi weapons and ammunition depots.

The sites were widely looted. Some of the depots remained unprotected for
months until news reports of the wholescale pilfering shamed US officials
into action.

As a result, Iraqi insurgents have access to hand grenades, land mines and
mortar rounds, as well as large artillery shells and "dumb" airplane bombs
powerful enough to level a big building.

In the early months of the occupation, rocket-propelled grenades were the
weapon of choice for the resistance but the stocks appear to have run down.

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, which keeps close track of
US casualties, more than 25 percent of US military personnel killed in Iraq
have been killed by IED blasts.

Methods to trigger the roadside bomb quickly grew in sophistication.

Insurgents began to set them off through detonators triggered by mobile
calls. The US military responded by electronically disrupting the signal.

When insurgents moved to light beams -- the kind available in hardware
stores -- the military responded by welding metal arms in the front of their
vehicles with a vertical bar to disrupt the beam.

But there is still no way to stop a bomb triggered by a charge sent through
a hidden wire.

"For every advance we make they make another one," said Sergeant First Class
Joseph Barker, an infantry soldier deployed in southern Baghdad. "They're
getting better and there is nothing we can do about it."

The military ordered armor plates welded onto trucks and Humvees already in
the field, even though the vehicles were not always designed to bear the
extra weight.

Army Brigadier General Yves Fontaine, in charge of logistics in Iraq, said
in mid-August that roadside bomb attacks on US supply convoys had doubled
over the past year, but casualties had dropped because of the extra armor.

Casualties per bomb are indeed down, but the massive increase in the number
of bombs attacks means that, overall, the death toll has never been higher.

The number of soldiers killed in IED blasts averaged 11 a month in 2003, 16
in 2004, and nearly double that figure -- 30 -- during the first 10 months
of 2005, according to the Coalition Casualty Count.

In recent months, insurgents have increasingly been using shaped charges,
which penetrate armor by focusing explosive power in a single direction and
firing a metal projectile into the target at high speed.

Shaped charges are "effective against all types of armored vehicles", said
Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst with Jane's Information Group in
London.

"Nearly all of the IEDs we'll see from now on will be of this pattern," he
said in a telephone interview.

The US military issues almost daily statements on how soldiers find and
disable roadside bombs.

On Monday, they said US soldiers in Baghdad had disabled an IED consisting
of two 155mm rounds in a fuel can the previous evening. Iraqi police had
found another IED "which consisted of a 120mm shell with TNT and small
bottles of gas with nails."

Insurgents often add a sugar and gasoline mix that acts like napalm in
sticking to a victim's body and burning.

Sergeant Frank Purcell, a Third Infantry Division soldier deployed in
Baghdad, was simple in his asessement. "There's no good defense against
them," he said.
October 24th, 2005  
Chocobo_Blitzer
 
Insurgents often add a sugar and gasoline mix that acts like napalm in
sticking to a victim's body and burning


In recent months, insurgents have increasingly been using shaped charges,
which penetrate armor by focusing explosive power in a single direction and
firing a metal projectile into the target at high speed.


Aw man. As if they weren't bad enough...