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GlobalSecurity.org In the News

KBCI-TV September 16, 2006

Army Combat Engineers From Idaho Join Battle Against Deadly Roadside Bombs In Iraq

By Scott Logan

BOISE - In Iraq, they are the enemy's preferred method of attack: roadside bombs, IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.

America's military leaders call IEDs the insurgents' most effective weapon and the largest single source of casualties for U.S. troops in Iraq.

Finding the IEDs before they kill is one of the biggest challenges facing the United States military and its coalition partners.

This weekend, 300 combat engineers from Idaho deployed to Iraq to join the fight against IEDs -- and it will be dangerous duty.

"This is definitely a job that has hazards," said Capt. John Vogt with the Boise-based 321st Engineer Battalion. "We've taken a lot of factors into account to mitigate that risk. The men are ready to go out there are take care of them."

The Idaho soldiers are with the U.S. Army Reserve's 321st Engineer Battalion. They are 400 other engineers from around the West will spend one year in Iraq.

The insurgents in Iraq have been using hidden artillery shells, mortar rounds, and other high explosives to wage an effective, invisible war against American troops.

IEDs killed 427 American soldiers in Iraq in 2005, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website. And this year, as of Sept. 15, 268 Americans have been lost to roadside bombs.

"The enemy will come up with some new way of hiding these IEDs, we'll come up with a new way of defeating it," Capt. Vogt told CBS 2 News. "Then they'll move on to a new tactic, we're constantly adjusting."

Research analyst Francois Boo, of GlobalSecurity.org, recently told the BBC that insurgents are skilled at developing more sophisticated and more powerful devices as U.S. troops improve their tactics to deal with them.

Many are made from leftover munitions and explosive materials, he told the BBC. New technology and tactics are available to bomb-makers on the internet.

The United States says sophisticated bomb-making material from Iran has been found in IEDs in Iraq.

Infrared devices - set off as a vehicle breaks the beam, like a burglar alarm - are believed to have been a response to U.S. troops using equipment to jam devices triggered by mobile phones and other types of transmitters.

The Idaho combat engineers have trained all summer to spot and remove IEDs, but it will not be easy. One national defense website says insurgents have developed more than 90 different ways to detonate these deadly devices.

Copyright 2006, KBCI-TV