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Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are responsible for many of the more than 2,000 deaths and numerous casualties suffered by U.S. and coalition forces since the invasion of Iraq. (1) The bombs have been hidden behind signs and guardrails, under roadside debris, or inside animal carcasses, and encounters with IEDs are becoming more numerous and deadly. The threat has expanded to include vehicle-borne IEDs, where insurgents drive cars laden with explosives directly into a targeted group of service members. DOD efforts to counter IEDs have proven only marginally effective, and U.S. forces continue to be exposed to the threat at military checkpoints, or whenever riding in vehicles in Iraq. DOD reportedly expects that mines and IEDs will continue to be weapons of choice for insurgents for the near term in Iraq, and is also concerned that they might eventually become more widely used by other insurgents and terrorists worldwide. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, now cause about half of all the American combat casualties in Iraq, both killed-in-action and wounded. (2) The Iraqi insurgents make videos of exploding U.S. vehicles and dead Americans and distribute them via the Internet to win new supporters. Outside Iraq, foreign radicals see the images as confirmation that the Americans are vulnerable. IEDs are also killing hundreds of Iraqis as insurgents also strike police stations, markets, and mosques. The latest innovation involves the aggressive use of vehicular bombs, two-thirds of which are driven by suicide bombers.
An Improvised Explosive Device is a "homemade" mine designed to cause death or injury by using explosives that are hidden and set off using a variety of trigger mechanisms. IEDs can utilize commercial or military explosives, or homemade explosives, and often the IED builder has had to construct them with the materials at hand. (3) IEDs could also possibly be used in combination with toxic chemicals, biological toxins, or radiological material, but so far this has not been reported in Iraq.
Some observers speculate that munitions for constructing IEDs may be coming from a large supply of unexpended Iraqi military ordnance that was gathered and stockpiled in secret locations throughout Iraq. In April 2003, Iraqi looters stormed the Al Qaqaa military weapons site and possibly carried off nearly 400 tons of powerful conventional explosives, after the site was first abandoned by Iraqi forces and then left unsecured by U.S. forces. It is not known exactly when the munitions may have vanished from the site, and it is …