Monday, November 10, 2003

IED

The US is hoping new technology can help prevent roadside bombs, known as IEDs, from harming the troops in Iraq.

The Pentagon has rushed new technologies to ground troops in Iraq to help foil persistent attacks by guerrillas using homemade bombs.

The bombs, officially known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have killed dozens of American soldiers since the insurgency began shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9.

Saddam Hussein loyalists make the relatively simple explosives in guerrilla hide-outs, then place them on or near roads traveled by U.S. convoys. When the vehicles pass, Iraqis detonate the bombs from a remote location via radio signal.

Defense officials said the Pentagon began a rush program with the "highest priority" to develop technologies that can find and detonate the IEDs from a safe distance. One senior official said the technologies were introduced into Iraq in the last couple of weeks, with more to come.

"This was not a long-developed, mature program," the official said. "This was the top priority of the department. They pushed the technologies into the battlefield. They were not necessarily ready to go. They are still developing technologies."

The sources said the programs, which are being overseen by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, involve systems that can jam a radio signal or send out signals that explode the devices.

In the case of jamming, soldiers could block radio signals as the convoy traveled from point A to point B. In the case of premature explosions, troops could send pulse bursts of radio waves along roads to detonate any hidden bombs.

"There are a number of different technology applications that are being sent over there," one defense official said.

Israel, which has been fighting an insurgency far longer than the United States, is known to have technologies that, under the right conditions, can blow up explosives on the bearer before he reaches a target.


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