Rocket science -- the new arms race in Iraq
Although the Bush administration tells us that the insurgency is dwindling and in its "last thoes," it turns out that its "thoes" include some new, more lethal bomb making techniques. From the New York Times:
June 22, 2005
Iraqi Rebels Refine Bomb Skills, Pushing Toll of G.I.'s Higher
By DAVID S. CLOUD
WASHINGTON, June 21 - American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new heights in the last two months as insurgents have begun to deploy devices that leave armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable, according to military records.
Last month there were about 700 attacks against American forces using so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, the highest number since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the American military command in Iraq and a senior Pentagon military official. Attacks on Iraqis also reached unprecedented levels, Lt. Gen. John Vines, a senior American ground commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday.
The surge in attacks, the officials say, has coincided with the appearance of significant advancements in bomb design, including the use of "shaped" charges that concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles, causing higher casualties.
Another change, a senior military officer said, has been the detonation of explosives by infrared lasers, an innovation aimed at bypassing electronic jammers used to block radio-wave detonators.
I.E.D.'s of all types caused 33 American deaths in May, and there have been at least 35 fatalities so far in June, the highest toll over a two-month period, according to statistics assembled by Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks official figures. . . . .
The shaped charge explosion fires a projectile "at a very rapid rate, sufficient to penetrate certain levels of armor," General Conway said, adding that weapons employing shaped charges had caused American casualties in the last two months. He did not give details.
A Pentagon official involved in combating the devices said shaped charges seen so far appeared crude but required considerable expertise, suggesting insurgents were able to draw on well-trained bomb-makers, possibly even rocket scientists from the former government. Shaped charges and rocket engines are similar, the official said.
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[LW: At last, the light at the end of the tunnel -- a bomb blast!]