[Marxism] IED's

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 19 07:17:55 MST 2006

Iraq's Real WMD
Deadly Puzzle: IEDs are killing U.S. soldiers at a scary clip. At war with 
an insidious weapon.
By John Barry, Michael Hastings and Evan Thomas

March 27, 2006 issue - They call it "running the gauntlet." Army Capt. 
Gregory Hirschey and his bomb squad would go looking for improvised 
explosive devices (IEDs) in the streets of Baghdad. They would find them in 
donkey carts, paint cans, trash bags, plastic bottles and in 
schoolyards—explosive charges ready to be detonated by insurgents lying in 
wait. Operating around the clock in teams of three, Hirschey's 21-man unit 
responded to 2,178 incidents in seven months, from the summer of 2005 to 
the winter of 2006. "There were IEDs on the way there, there were IEDs on 
the way back," says Hirschey. Not to mention small-arms fire, ambushes and 
rocket-propelled grenades.

With a month left on his tour, Hirschey began to think his unit would 
miraculously emerge unscathed. Then an IED blew off a soldier's arm. Twelve 
days later, a team leader—Hirschey's close friend, Staff Sgt. Johnnie 
Mason—was dismantling an IED when a second one killed him instantly. (Army 
bomb squads are often targeted by the insurgents for ambushes.) A strapping 
12-year veteran with brush-cut blond hair, a wife and three kids, Hirschey, 
38, found himself becoming numb to the IED threat. "You quit looking," he 
told NEWSWEEK. "I don't know what it is. You almost feel like you're part 
of the walking dead."

In every sense of the word, IEDs are crippling American soldiers in Iraq. 
The insurgents know that their best chance to win is to bleed America, and 
IEDs are the most effective way to cause the most harm at the least cost. 
Three years after the United States invaded Iraq, the military still has 
not figured out how to overcome the threat. Former administration officials 
blame the military bureaucracy; military officials blame a civilian 
leadership that did not grasp the operational challenges.

There is no doubt that the Bush administration is frustrated by the IED 
menace and is trying hard, if belatedly, to overcome it. President George 
W. Bush's tone was slightly defensive last week when he talked about 
"putting the best minds in America to work on this effort." In 2004, said 
Bush, the military spent $150 million to defeat IEDs; this year the figure 
is $3.3 billion—mostly for more armor and better technology. Bush himself 
has asked how the Pentagon could burn through so much money. Last week Gen. 
Montgomery Meigs, the four-star general appointed by Bush in December to 
lead the anti-IED effort, gave the president a little show and tell. On a 
long dark table in the Roosevelt Room were assembled a series of IEDs, 
ranging from the small, simple kind—an artillery shell detonated by a 
garage-door opener—to the bigger, more sophisticated shaped charges ignited 
by infrared beams (technology, it appears, courtesy of Iran). The former is 
good for tearing off limbs; the latter can take out a tank.

The Pentagon and Central Command do not like to get into specifics, for 
fear of tipping off the insurgents, but officials claim that the military 
is disarming an ever-greater number of IEDs before they can kill Americans. 
"We have reduced the casualty rate from IEDs by half of what it was 18 
months ago," says Pentagon spokesman Brian Whitman. All this may be true, 
but the insurgents are planting IEDs at a faster rate than the Army can 
eliminate them. According to Central Command, in 2004 there were 5,607 IED 
attacks; in 2005, there were 10,953.

full: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11904429/site/newsweek/

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