American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new
heights in the last months as insurgents improved their tactics,
deploying more sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IED)
targeting armored vehicles. In May 2005 alone, there were about 700
attacks against American forces using IEDs, the highest number since
the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Attacks on Iraqis at recent months
also reached unprecedented levels. Among the deadliest attacks was
the destruction of a growing number of armored vehicles, including
M-1 tanks, amphibious armored assault vehicles, Bradley armored
vehicles, Stryker APCs and up-armored Humvees – all recently
protected with various types of add-on armor.
So far, IEDs were made of roadside bombs, the most common were made
of artillery shells detonated by a command wire or remote control.
Such shells contain tens of kilograms of explosives which, when
exploded, cause extensive blast and shrapnel but are less effective
against armored targets. Troops started identifying the devices on
roadways, often tipped off by the wires used to trigger them, so the
insurgents began burying the devices under trash or hiding them in
dead animals' carcasses and detonating them remotely with cell
phones and garage-door openers. The US forces already use some 4,200
portable electronic jamming devices including Warlock Red and
Warlock Green systems. Among the known projects undergoing field
tests, are the new Joint Improvised Explosive Device Neutralizer
(JIN), using controlled directed energy and the Scorpion II
Demonstration System, a transportable high-powered microwave system
capable of disabling a wide variety of improvised explosive devices.
Insurgents are countering these countermeasures by the use of
infrared lasers command links, attached to IED detonators, thus
bypassing the electronic jammers, used to pre-activate roadside
bombs or block their detonation. After the troops started using
specialized equipment to probe debris for suspected IEDs, the
terrorists began disguising them better: atop telephone poles or
buried behind concrete abutments.