Author Topic: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)  (Read 9393 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline tomahawk6

  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 109,495
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,790
IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« on: August 12, 2005, 16:55:33 »
In this week's Armytimes.

http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=0-ARMYPAPER-1003373.php

August 15, 2005

Anatomy of an IED
Lack of hierarchy makes bombers hard to stop

By Greg Grant
Special to the Times


On an average day, there are 40 IED "events" in Iraq - improvised explosive devices that either explode or are disarmed. So far in 2005, 213 American troops have been killed by IEDs.

U.S. intelligence officials are only now beginning to understand how insurgent cells operate.

"The enemy is evolving and constantly innovating. If there were any thoughts that this is a rudimentary, unsophisticated enemy, those thoughts have been replaced," Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel said earlier this summer at the Lexington Institute in Washington. Votel is director of the Army's IED Defeat Task Force.

The following revealing picture of how these cells operate and why they remain difficult to penetrate comes from extensive interviews with military intelligence officers with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq, briefing documents, and interviews and presentations at an Army-sponsored counter IED conference at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Much of what U.S. officials know about IED cells is gathered through interrogation of captured Iraqi insurgents.

Counterinsurgency forces have long studied the pyramidal model of enemy forces - strong leadership at the top and the group expanding in size at each lower level, to the foot soldiers at the bottom. That type of guerrilla organization was highly vulnerable to a decapitation strike that would often lead to its collapse.

But the groups in Iraq have no hierarchical structure, the officers said. Vast numbers of small, adaptive insurgent cells operate independently without central guidance. There may be some loose coordination of attacks, but then the cells go their separate ways.

This highly decentralized characteristic of the IED cells makes them nearly impossible to penetrate. Their small size allows them to focus on specific American units, learn their tactics, patrol schedules, transportation routes and readily adapt to counter-IED techniques.

Taking down the foot soldiers causes a temporary disruption, as new people must be recruited. But even then, the cell is disrupted only for two weeks or so. The only way to get rid of the cell is to target the whole group - and there are a lot of cells.

Small, highly skilled IED cells often operate as a package and hire themselves out to the more well-known insurgent groups, such as Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq or the Sunni group Ansaar al Sunna. They advertise their skills on the Internet and are temporarily contracted on a per-job basis, but otherwise remain autonomous. This more linear, rather than pyramidal structure, means a decapitation operation is not an option.

One U.S. intelligence officer said that if you capture the leader of an IED cell, the leaderless foot soldiers simply get rolled up into another cell or start their own splinter cell. By cutting off the heads, you don't fix the problem - other heads emerge.

The IED cells are patient and methodical and they follow an identifiable operational cycle. Five days are usually spent conducting reconnaissance of prospective targets, conducting pattern analysis of U.S. patrols and looking for vulnerabilities. The insurgents try to discover why and at what times American patrols travel along specific routes. Insurgents have even used hoax IEDs placed in plain view so they can watch the American response and gather intelligence on security methods and bomb disposal team operations to prepare for future attacks.

Picking a target

IED target selection is done with the intent of maximizing casualties and media exposure. Favorite targets include convoys of civilian SUVs, as they believe these transport American government officials and intelligence agents. They also target fuel tankers, as the flames and billowing smoke from a burning fuel tanker makes for compelling television footage.

The target site must also have multiple escape routes.

Bomb components are assembled at a well-concealed bomb factory and then moved from any area likely to be searched by American patrols to a holding area until the weapon is placed. IEDs are often kept in what the military calls "rolling weapons caches," cars with false bottoms or trunks loaded with explosives that blend into the thousands of vehicles on Iraq's crowded city streets.

Five days of preparation are then followed by 10 days of heavy IED attacks, then the cycle starts again.

After a successful attack or if a device is detected by a U.S. patrol, the IED cell evaluates the results and adjusts its tactics accordingly for the next strike.

Nine times out of 10, the military and intelligence officers said, the insurgents videotape IED attacks. The insurgents scrutinize the tapes - much as a coach watches post-game films - to prepare for future attacks. They're also used as motivational tools for new recruits and to advertise a cell's technical proficiency.

The organization

While all IED cells in Iraq are not alike, they tend to follow a similar organizational pattern. They are almost exclusively made up of Sunni extremists. The typical IED cell numbers no more than six to eight people who collect intelligence on American forces, gather explosive materials, manufacture the bomb, place the device, carry out the attack and then evaluate the results.

At the top of the IED cell is the planner or financier, a "money man" who is most often a well-educated and intelligent former Ba'ath government official or military officer. He is ideologically motivated in his fight against the American occupation.

These "white collar" leaders are the most difficult cell members to identify. Even if fingered by an informant or other means, the leaders are so good at covering their tracks it's nearly impossible to develop sufficient evidence to detain them. And if captured, they're not likely to say anything. Only 5 percent to 10 percent of the insurgents captured by the Americans are cell leaders.

Below the financier is the bomb maker. He also is typically ideologically motivated, a former regime member or Sunni Arab angered at the American occupation. As with the financier, American officers said, the only way of getting the bomb makers to stop the attacks is by capturing or killing them.

Initially, IEDs were constructed by former Iraqi Republican Guard or Special Republican Guard soldiers. That skill has spread throughout the country over the past two years. According to Army intelligence officers, outside expertise also has come into the country, both from Hezbollah, which has extensive bomb-making expertise, and from Iranian intelligence. Bomb-making skills proliferate rapidly among IED cells in Iraq via the Internet, used by insurgents to share skills.

The insurgents' technical proficiency has increased with experience. In recent months, shaped-charge explosives have become more common, Votel said. Also called platter charges, these devices combine an explosive charge with a low-melting-point metal such as copper that is shaped in a concave way. When the blast occurs, it shapes the metal into a molten slug that can penetrate the heaviest armor.

That technical expertise wasn't in Iraq when the insurgency began and is suspected as having come in from Iran, said Lt. Col. Shawn Weed, an intelligence officer with 3rd ID.

The military has found no appreciable decrease in IED attacks when a bomb maker is killed, and it represents at best a temporary setback for the insurgency as that talent is easily replaced.

The next person in the cell is the "emplacer." This person usually has some military expertise and is skilled at moving unnoticed into and out of an area while transporting an IED. Most IEDs are the wired 155mm shells that can weigh 100 pounds. Moving these objects around unseen and placing them along high-trafficked roads takes experience and daring, as the emplacer knows if he's spotted placing an IED he'll be killed. He is familiar with American patrolling tactics and techniques and is often supported by lookouts armed with cell phones who will tip him when a patrol nears.

The emplacer's primary motivation is money. He is a foot soldier and is often paid as little as $50 dollars and told to place an IED in a specific location at a specific time. A common technique is to pull a car over to the side of the road to change a tire or appear as if it's broken down. He places the IED - 75 percent of IEDs are placed in a hole previously used for the same purpose - covers it up with something, turns the switch on and drives away.

Other times, these emplacers don't even stop their vehicles to set up an IED. Some cars have a hole cut in the floor so they only have to slow down and drop the device onto the road.

Of all the members of the IED cell, the emplacer's skills are the most difficult to replace. When an emplacer is taken out, an IED cell's activity is at least temporarily disrupted as a replacement is sought.

The next person in the cell is the triggerman, the one who lies in wait until an American convoy passes. Often in a car, the triggerman detonates the IED either by remote trigger or command wire. Remote detonation is the preferred means as it allows the insurgent to be farther away from the blast.

Captured triggermen said they prefer to hit the second vehicle in a patrol. The first vehicle passes the IED, and they time it, then they hit the second vehicle.

Like the emplacer, the triggerman's primary motivation is money. Sometimes these lower-level operatives will hire themselves out as a two-man team, changing affiliations based on money.

Suicide bombers

Suicide car bomb cells are similar in structure, although the bomb maker's technical expertise is usually greater as the triggering often requires engineering skills. Car bombs are assembled in a factory assembly-line-like process that begins usually in small towns south of Baghdad. There, a vehicle is modified in an auto chop shop, with space cleared inside the vehicle to fit explosives, suspensions strengthened to carry the additional weight and windows blackened.

As the vehicle is driven north to Baghdad, where most car bombs are detonated, additional components are added. This decentralized construction process makes it more difficult for American intelligence to identify a car bomb factory and eliminate it.

Intelligence gathered from a captured would-be suicide car bomber, who was a member of Zarqawi's group, provided U.S. officials with the best insight into the inner workings of a suicide car bombing cell. The cell is kept small and focused, and contact with insurgents outside the suicide group is strictly controlled. Suicide bombers are selected on a first-come basis, with no shortage of recruits. The bombers are most often foreigners and enter Iraq from Saudi Arabia or Kuwait with the specific intention of martyrdom. The only training they receive is the target information and instruction on how to trigger the device.

The first transports the bomber to the location of a pre-positioned car bomb and then follows behind to guide the bomber along the route and videotape the attack.

The captured car bomber said it would be easy to drive around Baghdad and pick out up to 20 soft targets. Two vehicles are commonly used.

Greg Grant covers the Army for Defense News.

Offline CBH99

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • 27,085
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 810
IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2005, 07:41:17 »
This question is intended for KevinB, or anybody else who is/has been in Afghanistan.

Now, this is going to sound really ignorant - which it is...which is why I'm asking:

How easy is it for these guys to get the materials required to make IEDs??  Is it because of materials being smuggled in via Pakistan, or are they using materials left over from the Soviet campaign?

I know Afghanistan has been at war, at some level, for several decades - probably longer.  Therefore, there is defiinitey going to be some of this stuff already in the country - especially when the dynamics of the last 4yrs are taken into account.  (Fall of the Taliban, various warlods, druglords, etc, etc.)

But how easy is it for these guys to get this stuff into the country, in order to use it in IEDs?  As someone on the ground, do you think there will a tipping point of success, in which less and less of this stuff is used?  Or, will there always be an abudance of explosive material available in the country?

Again, I know it sounds ignorant - but I'm truly curious to hear it from someone who's on the ground. 
Fortune Favours the Bold...and the Smart.

Wouldn't it be nice to have some Boondock Saints kicking around?

Offline armybuck041

  • Donor
  • Member
  • *
  • 2,580
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 219
Re: 12 Dec 05 Afghan landmine explosion injures 3 Cdn. soldiers
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2005, 08:06:34 »
I can tell you that our EOD guys were detroying TON's of left over munitions from the Soviet/DRA era. There is no shortage of explosive materiel and landmines to convert to IED's.

As for making devices, i'm not gonna get into great depth here, but some are so simple that all they require is a couple of hacksaw blades, some wood, an inner tube, a few meters of wire, a battery and a shovel to bury it all. The more complex remote controlled ones rely on imported electronics, but are very easy to obtain from "sympathetic" neighbouring countries. 

IED's are so incredibly easy to make, I doubt they will ever be stopped. Keep in mind these tactics have been used against Israel for decades, so there is lots of know how floating around in the middle east. 

 
Gone but never forgotten: Sgt Shane Stachnik, Killed in Action on 3 Sept 2006, Panjwaii Afghanistan

Offline George Wallace

  • Army.ca Fossil
  • *****
  • 436,750
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 31,593
  • Crewman
Re: 12 Dec 05 Afghan landmine explosion injures 3 Cdn. soldiers
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2005, 08:15:01 »
CBH99

It is relatively easy for these guys to get materials for their bomb making.   There are lots of munitions in their stock piles left over from the war with the Russians, plus they have very porous borders with such countries as Pakistan and Iran that allow them to 'import' more.   IEDs can be made from Landmine, artillery shells, plastic explosive, basically any explosive device or compound that they can find.   Any imaginable trigger can be used to set them off.   They can be buried in the ground or disguised as an object at the side of a road.   IEDs are not new, and have in fact been used for over fifty years in attacks on Military and Civilian targets.   They were used by saboteurs in the Second World War, by the Red Army Faction in West Germany, in Vietnam, in Iraq, and numerous other places around the world.   They are a threat that is difficult to see/find, but training and new technology will lessen that.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and arguments of George Wallace posted on this Site are solely those of George Wallace and not the opinion of Army.ca and are posted for information purposes only.
Unless so stated, they are reflective of my opinion -- and my opinion only, a right that I enjoy along with every other Canadian citizen.

Offline COBRA-6

  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *****
  • 5,975
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 1,478
Re: 12 Dec 05 Afghan landmine explosion injures 3 Cdn. soldiers
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2005, 08:40:02 »
They're still finding tons of UXO's and ammo around Kabul, and this is one of the more "cleaned up" parts of Afghanistan. Finding material to make IED's here is like finding material to make a snowball during a Canadian winter... cell phones are everywhere, batteries, wire...

We can't hope to cut off the supply of IED material, but with good use of assets like snipers and HUMINT, maybe we can make a dent in the people emplacing them.  >:D

What's really fun is driving down the road and wondering "is that corolla really broken down or is it filled with explosives??" 

ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

Offline KevinB

  • Has Been
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 35,620
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 8,338
  • As a Matter of Fact the Sky is Blue in my world...
    • FN America
Re: 12 Dec 05 Afghan landmine explosion injures 3 Cdn. soldiers
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2005, 09:21:49 »
BEWARE THE WHITE COROLLA  ;D


 I can buy Ak's, RPG's and pretty much anything under the sun here given desire and money...

There are tons of munitions still hidden - Mortar and Artillerty rounds being a easy shake and bake IED. 

Down from the US Embassy they used and AT mine that ripped a nice hole in the roof of the attempted VBIED by Fredoom Circle - no injuries and it looked like the Marx bros playing terrorist.

Last year doing CP work for the EOD guys I posted that pic of the hot water tank filled with explosives.   


BUT These guys only have to get luck once...

Kevin S. Boland
Manager, Federal Sales
FN America, LLC
Office: 703.288.3500 x181 | Mobile: 703-244-1758  | Fax: 703.288.4505
www.fnhusa.com

Offline George Wallace

  • Army.ca Fossil
  • *****
  • 436,750
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 31,593
  • Crewman
IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2005, 09:30:01 »
This is an interesting and informative topic so it has been given it's own Thread.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and arguments of George Wallace posted on this Site are solely those of George Wallace and not the opinion of Army.ca and are posted for information purposes only.
Unless so stated, they are reflective of my opinion -- and my opinion only, a right that I enjoy along with every other Canadian citizen.

Offline Old Ranger

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Full Member
  • *
  • -40
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 446
  • "This Finger that lead the Fist, has Arthritis."
    • Anti-Miller
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2005, 09:52:06 »
George, there have been some other discussions and information on IEDs in other threads.

Would it be good to link them here? (I haven't figured out that trick yet)

Thanks Ben

Wow that was fast!! :salute:
« Last Edit: December 13, 2005, 09:59:50 by Old Ranger »
Some People are Dying to meet a Paramedic! Please Don't Drink and Drive!
Pain is not a Right!, It's Earned!
Don't let the Pain Hurt You, You Hurt the Pain!
Paramedics were created, because Firefighters need Hero's too.
I'll see your Jihad, and raise you a Crusade!...All In!
CPC, CSSA.
www.torontothebad.com

Offline tomahawk6

  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 109,495
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 9,790
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2005, 10:35:11 »
« Last Edit: December 13, 2005, 10:41:57 by tomahawk6 »

Offline geo

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 26,410
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 10,648
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2005, 17:13:56 »
They're still finding tons of UXO's and ammo around Kabul, and this is one of the more "cleaned up" parts of Afghanistan. Finding material to make IED's here is like finding material to make a snowball during a Canadian winter... cell phones are everywhere, batteries, wire...

They're still pulling tons of bombs, munitions & UXOs from the fields of France & Flanders.... and those have been around even longer...

And those still carry poison gass.
Chimo!

Offline PPCLI WO

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • 1,540
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 332
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2005, 17:44:31 »
One of the latest TTP's in Afghanistan is for insurgents to disguise IED material as individual food packets and carry them by hand across the border from Pakistan.

FYI: The CF now distinguishes IED's by their method of delivery.  They range from the expected to the absurd:

RCIED - Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device
CWIED - Command Wired Improvised Explosive Device
VBIED - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
BBIED - Bicycle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
MBIED - Motorcycle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
CBIED - Camel Borne Improvised Explosive Device

I'm not kidding about the last one.

Offline armybuck041

  • Donor
  • Member
  • *
  • 2,580
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 219
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2005, 18:37:24 »
One of the latest TTP's in Afghanistan is for insurgents to disguise IED material as individual food packets and carry them by hand across the border from Pakistan.

FYI: The CF now distinguishes IED's by their method of delivery.   They range from the expected to the absurd:

RCIED - Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device
CWIED - Command Wired Improvised Explosive Device
VBIED - Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
BBIED - Bicycle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
MBIED - Motorcycle Borne Improvised Explosive Device
CBIED - Camel Borne Improvised Explosive Device

I'm not kidding about the last one.


You forgot DBIED, Donkey Borne IED.... i'm not kidding either.

IED components come in all kinds of different "flavours of the month". During Roto III it was 4L Motor Oil Jugs which was almost laughable as almost every Seacan shop in Kabul had dozens of them out in front.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2005, 18:44:52 by armybuck041 »
Gone but never forgotten: Sgt Shane Stachnik, Killed in Action on 3 Sept 2006, Panjwaii Afghanistan

Offline KevinB

  • Has Been
  • Army.ca Fixture
  • *****
  • 35,620
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 8,338
  • As a Matter of Fact the Sky is Blue in my world...
    • FN America
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2005, 02:56:39 »
Last weeks is a Male Pakistani Suicide Bomber -- close shaven wearing western clothes...

I can quite figure a acroynm for him yet.

Dont forget Batteries

or the Infamour Roto II Dustbane Box, or Radio/CD Player  Suspected IED's... ;)
Kevin S. Boland
Manager, Federal Sales
FN America, LLC
Office: 703.288.3500 x181 | Mobile: 703-244-1758  | Fax: 703.288.4505
www.fnhusa.com

Offline geo

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 26,410
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 10,648
Re: IED Topic (Improvised Explosive Devices)
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2005, 18:10:56 »
 the Infamour Roto II Dustbane Box, or Radio/CD Player  Suspected IED's...

Would those be "boom boxes?"
Chimo!