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July 11, 2008

US Troops Capture Man Who May Be the Key to Deadly "Lob Bombs" or "Flying IEDs"

A bit of background on the new weapon:

Suspected Shiite militiamen have begun using powerful rocket-propelled bombs to attack U.S. military outposts in recent months, broadening the array of weapons used against American troops.


U.S. military officials call the devices Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, or IRAMs. They are propane tanks packed with hundreds of pounds of explosives and powered by 107mm rockets. They are often fired by remote control from the backs of trucks, sometimes in close succession. Rocket-propelled bombs have killed at least 21 people, including at least three U.S. soldiers, this year.

The latest reported rocket-propelled bomb attack occurred Tuesday at Joint Security Station Ur, a base in northeastern Baghdad shared by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. One U.S. soldier and an interpreter were wounded in the attack.

U.S. military officials say IRAM attacks, unlike roadside bombings and conventional mortar or rocket attacks, have the potential to kill scores of soldiers at once. IRAMs are fired at close range, unlike most rockets, and create much larger explosions. Most such attacks have occurred in the capital, Baghdad.

The use of the rocket-propelled bombs reflects militiamen's ability to use commonly available materials and relatively low-tech weaponry to circumvent security measures that have cost the U.S. military billions of dollars. To combat roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices or IEDs, U.S. and Iraqi troops have set up scores of checkpoints throughout the capital, increased patrols and purchased hundreds of armored vehicles that can resist such attacks.

The WaPo seems to be overhyping the IRAM as a terror weapon "capable of killing scores of soldiers at once," even though IEDs have wiped out whole truckfulls of soldiers at once, and so far the IRAMs have only killed two US soldiers this year. But one of those was Bronze-Star medic Bill McMillan, killed by an IRAM just Tuesday.

Even if WaPo is exaggerating its capabilities, it's been called "the most serious threat" our troops now face, and it's becoming the terrorists' weapon of choice.

So it's gratifying that US troops snatched up a guy they're calling a potential "big lead" in rolling up the bomb-makers.

In related news, a captured "insurgent" has led troops to discover the bodies of the first servicemen killed in the surge -- Private Byron Fouty, 19, and Sergeant Alex Jimenez, 25 -- captured in an ambush more than a year ago.

Note a year ago we couldn't find them, despite a massive effort. Now we catch one of the guys who apparently had a hand in their deaths (or at least their burials). Maybe I'm reading too much into what might be pure happenstance, but it does appear that a year ago, the battlefield was filled with red zones and black holes for us, and now, it's filled with red zones and black holes for the terrorists.

Little News is Good News: With one third of July past, only three US servicemen have died in Iraq, and one due to non-battle related causes.


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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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