Special Report - C-IED

Counter IED Strategy and Strategic Support Measures in Afghanistan and Other Conflict Zones

“No other widely available terror weapon has more potential for mass media attention and strategic influence as does the IED”
Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)

Counter IED StrategyImprovised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are the weapon of choice for organisations that are unable to field a conventional military capability. They enable terrorists all over the world to conduct extremely effective attacks against both military and civilian targets and their manufacture requires relatively low levels of skill and financial resource. Despite their rudimentary nature, IEDs are capable of inflicting colossal damage to personnel and/or infrastructure and their use often allows the bomb maker to remain completely anonymous. Moreover, Insurgent groups the world over recognise that the use of IEDs instils far more fear in opposition forces than conventional weapons and as a result IEDs provide the perfect weapon for terrorists to wage what is arguably the most vicious form of psychological warfare. With IED componentry relying on readily available commercial technologies, easily accessible bomb making instruction via the Internet, and the ability to produce homemade explosives from common industrial and agricultural items, IEDs provide the insurgent with a hugely effective precision weapon system.

The damage done by an IED to a truck outside Baghdad, Iraq.
The damage done by an IED to a truck outside Baghdad, Iraq.The use of IEDs in Iraq has declined markedly since the summer of 2007, today reaching their lowest levels since October 2003. According to JIEDDO, “the decline is attributed to a number of factors including: counter-IED (C-IED) efforts, the coalition "surge" operation, a more capable and confident Iraqi Security Force apparatus, Muqtada al Sadr's cease-fire order to the main Shi'a insurgent groups, and the Sunni awakening movement known popularly as the "Sons of Iraq." These factors converged to create a more stable operational environment where coalition and Iraqi Forces concentrated their collective efforts on eliminating al Qaeda in Iraq as a threat to an enduring and stable Iraq”.

Predator UAV Training
Predator UAV TrainingThe battle space and the trend in IED usage in Afghanistan, however, is decidedly different to that in Iraq. In Iraq the threat was largely sectarian. In Afghanistan it is more of a conventional insurgent battle. IED usage in Afghanistan has increased dramatically over the past several years, steadily climbing since 2005. IEDs used in Afghanistan are generally more rudimentary than those used in Iraq and they are often used as a trigger for complex attacks that involve small unit ambush tactics and conventional weapons.

The heavily armoured �Cougar� is deployed on IED sweeping missions.
The heavily armoured ‘Cougar’ is deployed on IED sweeping missions.Most experts agree that IEDs will represent an on-going threat to security forces internationally. IEDs will become increasingly sophisticated and they will be utilised with far greater frequency as more terrorists recognise the potential psychological, social, and political impact of this weapon.

To counter this threat a multi-dimensional response is required. This response, military experts argue, must include efforts to attack the networks that support IED activity. Additionally, advances must be made in several key technological areas including IED detection and blast protection in order to defeat the device or mitigate its effects. Technologies that are currently proving effective against IED attacks must be evolved to remain effective against the next generation of IEDs and new technologies must also be developed. Finally, troop knowledge of IED defeat tactics, techniques and procedures must be continually improved and updated. The mechanism to achieve this is training supported by the exchange of information regarding enemy IED technical capabilities, tactics, techniques and procedures, among all stakeholders.

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