The Hidden Killers Of U.S. Troops

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
March 22, 2009
Pg. 14
Intelligence Report

IEDS account for the majority of U.S. casualties
By J. Scott Orr
The U.S. spends more than $4 billion a year fighting improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The homemade contraptions are cheap to build, easy to deploy, and as deadly as the most technologically advanced battlefield weapon. Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who oversees the Pentagon’s initiatives to combat IEDs, says it is impossible to stop the “unending cycles of innovation” by enemy bombsmiths. IEDs can be hidden near roads, stashed in crowded city centers, even carried by children or animals. And they account for the majority of U.S. casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
To reduce the slaughter, the Pentagon created the Joint IED Defeat Organization in 2006 with a mandate to end the chaos and terror the weapons create. Results have been mixed. The House Armed Services Committee recently expressed concern about the program’s “inability to clearly articulate what it has accomplished with its relatively large budget.” The Government Accountability Office also raised questions about how the group’s money is being used.
Since 2004, the Pentagon has spent $14 billion developing counter-IED technologies (devices that jam remote detonation signals from cellphones, for example), training field experts, and analyzing intelligence. According to Pentagon statistics, IED attacks have dropped dramatically in Iraq, from 2273 in August 2006 to 555 last August. At the same time, however, attacks in Afghanistan have doubled, from around 150 in August 2006 to more than 300 in August 2008. “We will never run these weapons off the battlefield,” says Metz, “but we must relentlessly attack the networks that finance and develop them.”