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IEDs a "major threat" to U.S.?
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, October 20, 2007

Obviously there are real threats out there against the US, but I have to wonder, on the face of it, whether IEDs are really one of them:
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI agree that the homemade explosive devices that have wreaked havoc in Iraq pose a rising threat to the United States. But lawmakers and first responders say the Bush administration has been slow to devise a strategy for countering the weapons and has not provided adequate money and training for a concerted national effort.
A "rising threat"? Given that we've seen nothing to indicate that the treat for the use of this sort of tactic is even being contemplated for use here, I'm not sure I'm buying into this.

The use of IEDs is a tool for insurgents, not terrorists. The insurgent or guerrilla fighter uses such tools to destroy, harass and disrupt the operations of a conventional enemy which it can't face toe-to-toe. It's an ambush technique used by the weaker foe to engage the more powerful foe.

It doesn't have a big "bang-for-the-buck" payoff except to make the enemy wary and make it take measure which require it to shift combat forces to other roles for which it otherwise wouldn't use them, etc.

Terrorists, otoh, use large and spectacular events to bring them the notoriety necessary to ensure their message gets out. They're hardly the type who are going to come to the US and think that popping an IED here and there in a country this vast is going to have any effect whatsoever in that regard.

Our threat is from terrorists, not insurgents. So if that's true, how does one then make IEDs a terrorist threat? Easy - expand the definition of IED:
While roadside bombs and armor-piercing charges have become the signature weapons of the Iraqi insurgency, U.S. officials define the domestic IED threat across a wide spectrum, including a block of TNT with a remote-controlled detonator; a fertilizer bomb delivered by a car, truck or plane; and a suicide runner carrying a peroxide-based explosive. At the extreme, an IED can be enhanced into a "dirty bomb," rigged to scatter radioactive material.

"Terrorists' use of IEDs cannot be extrapolated into anything other than a major threat to this country," Supervisory Special Agent Barbara Martinez, a senior official at the FBI's Critical Incident Response Group, said yesterday at a discussion organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
While technically IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is a term which refers to nothing other than the roadside bombs which have been so effective in Iraq, it is a well known term and people associate it with lethality. Apparently "bomb" doesn't have the same heft when trying to justify increased spending as IED does. Nor apparently does it have the ability to scare people like IED. People in the US are less likely to think of bombs as a major threat to them (but instead something which might happen, but elsewhere). However IED conjures up a completely different scenario as most people are well aware that the vast majority of the casualties we've suffered in Iraq have come from IEDs. Referring to bombs as IEDs makes the threat a little more possible, personal and urgent. In reality it is mostly nonsense.

While there may be legitimate reasons to expand and further fund EOD functions within major metro police departments, IEDs isn't one of them.

I take serious what I consider to be serious threats, but I'm not buying into this broadening of the use of IED in order to artificially raise the threat level to sell the expansion of spending in various areas of "Homeland Security". Sounds like classic propaganda to me.
 
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My concern for the use of IED’s is that they could be placed in/under any number of places (i.e. tunnels and bridges), causing major disruptions in supply lines (just like insurgents intend to cause in the war theaters) and inciting fear and changes in behavior of the American people, ultimately fulfilling the goal of terrorists.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

The bulk of the Dept. of Homeland Security is a disgrace and a joke, as is the verbage spewed by the govt about how well they are protecting our borders. It is amazing that we have not been hit already.

It is a matter of "when", not "if" we will be attacked. And even after this ocurrs, politicians will use the event as a way to benefit themselves instead of the country.

 
Written By: Mark Cancemi
URL: http://
My concern for the use of IED’s is that they could be placed in/under any number of places (i.e. tunnels and bridges), causing major disruptions in supply lines (just like insurgents intend to cause in the war theaters) and inciting fear and changes in behavior of the American people, ultimately fulfilling the goal of terrorists.
I understand and agree with your concern. However, what would be placed there won’t be an "IED" as we’ve come to understand them (IEDs are designed to kill a vehicle and its occupants, not collapse a bridge, tunnel or destroy a road). They’ll be what we traditionally called a bomb previously.

My argument is the use of IED is calculated to heighten fear, in this case, unnecessarily, in order to grease the funding skids for an expansion of EOD type organizations among law enforcement agencies.

The use of IED makes the argument more visceral and emotional than saying we need better protection against the potential our enemies will use bombs here. We already have a very negative perception of what an IED is and what it can do and are most likely to agree with whatever is proposed that would "protect" us from that threat.
Not so with a garden variety "bomb" as we’ve really not had that much exposure to random bombings, and the like.

"IED" is a term calculated to instill the type of fear which funds programs. Apparently "bomb" doesn’t have the same effect ... at least not yet.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Terrorists, otoh, use large and spectacular events to bring them the notoriety necessary to ensure their message gets out. They’re hardly the type who are going to come to the US and think that popping an IED here and there in a country this vast is going to have any effect whatsoever in that regard.
The bungled attacks this summer in England were IED attacks.

They also representated a shift in AQ’s approach. Two of the bombs were near a popular nightclub with the intention of killing its patrons, not demolishing it the club itself.

Old AQ would have targetted establishments themselves. Both the structure and the people inside. But emphasis was placed on the structure as a symbol. The WTC is such an example but these includes US compounds, embassies, etc.

From CNN’s view of the Iraq War, AQ has learned establishments don’t resonate as strongly with the US public/politicians as it must with themselves. In Iraq they go after body counts. The attack in England was about Body Counts, not establishments. They are linked to a degree for maximum carnage. However, if you let go of the idea of maximum carnage and your target is primarily people your options of attack open greatly and complexity goes way down.

How would you guard against a remotely detonated IED on US highways and roadways? Just wait until a bus full of kids passes the inconspicuous parked car, and its all day coverage on the major news channels.

The general public is a much easier target and no practical way to defend us all from an IED when one can make a detonator out of a cell phone and explosives out of common household ingrediants.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I understand and agree with your concern. However, what would be placed there won’t be an "IED" as we’ve come to understand them (IEDs are designed to kill a vehicle and its occupants, not collapse a bridge, tunnel or destroy a road). They’ll be what we traditionally called a bomb previously.
An IED can easily be refitted to kill anything, from a car, to a bridge, to a tunnel...it is a small step to a shaped charge.

If all it took was a bomb, why use an IED to take out a specialized vehicle?

In case you have missed, they are also used to take out Iraqi infrastructure, such as bridges, oil pipe lines.

Given that our Congress has been working overtime to DECREASE the supply of oil and other energy products, imagine how easily the supplies could be disrupted, giving the statists even more leverage. Maybe you should re-read Atlas Shrugged, (but skip the inane and repetitive conversations) for a demonstration into Congressional thinking, particularly on the left.
 
Written By: Sharpshooter
URL: http://
You guys are all making my case. You’ve expanded the definition to the point that anything can be called an IED. And that has a particular effect on any discussion thereafter that the more practically true description - bomb - won’t have.

Secondly:
An IED can easily be refitted to kill anything, from a car, to a bridge, to a tunnel...it is a small step to a shaped charge.
An "IED" is not a shaped charge. The shaped charge devices are called EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrators). IEDs are almost exclusively used to kill soft skinned vehicles. EFPs are almost exclusively used to kill armored vehicles.

Bombs are used to drop bridges, cut oil pipeline and blow up buildings. Those are three distinctly different uses.

When someone says bomb, you don’t think IED. When someone says IED, you don’t think EFP.

The use of the term "IED" in this case is very calculated to elicit exactly the reaction you guys are giving it.

As for this:
Maybe you should re-read Atlas Shrugged, (but skip the inane and repetitive conversations) for a demonstration into Congressional thinking, particularly on the left.
I have no idea what it is supposed to mean.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Maybe you should re-read Atlas Shrugged, (but skip the inane and repetitive conversations)
Done. That took about 30 seconds; skipping the inane and repetitive parts was great advice.

IED is just another word for bomb as McQ says. It’s only a part of our vocabulary because of the Iraq war. That’s how the military describes homemade (or at least not government issue) bombs in some attempt at greater precision, or something. You also have your VBIEDs, what we used to call car-bombs. Now, because we’ve been hearing the military jargon for these things weekly for almost five years, we use it too. And they may not be a huge threat, just as terror attacks in general aren’t a huge threat, but a VBIED is what Timothy McVeigh used.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
The WTC may have generate more grief and anger, but the DC area sniper generated far more angst. Bombs don’t have to target monuments to be a threat or capture the national interest. So the general statement of IEDs being a realistic threat is justified even in term of the word’s ’proper’ usage.

Considering AQ inability to mount large sophisticated attacks in the US, it seems logical to adapt the same strategy when faced with the same problem in Iraq. Iraq’s bombings aren’t strategic in the least. They are to play to CNN & Western Media’s body counts. Althought relatively speaking they are not that spectacular, they still qualify as terrorist attacks. I don’t care if they are placed by people referred to as insurgents by convention.

There’s no reason that AQ wouldn’t attempt to translate that easier to execute approach here.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The WTC may have generate more grief and anger, but the DC area sniper generated far more angst. Bombs don’t have to target monuments to be a threat or capture the national interest. So the general statement of IEDs being a realistic threat is justified even in term of the word’s ’proper’ usage.
And other than just saying that, what’s your proof that it is a "rising threat?"
There’s no reason that AQ wouldn’t attempt to translate that easier to execute approach here.
Easier to execute? Do you realize how manpower intensive something like that is? Then there are the logistics not to mention trying to stay hidden and avoiding detection while all of this is being done.

Easier to execute?

I don’t think so.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
IEDs a "major threat" to U.S. politicians.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
"Terrorists, otoh, use large and spectacular events"

It doesn’t necessarily have to be large or particularly pectacular. All it takes is a couple of envelopes filled with anthrax, for example, to get all the publicity you could want. Or consider the case of Lee Malvo, the sniper. Only 10(?) victims over an extended period of time, and lots of publicity. The list goes on.


"You guys are all making my case. You’ve expanded the definition to the point that anything can be called an IED."

Well, if it is improvised, explosive, and a device, why not? Sounds accurate to me. If you want to split hairs and pick nits then, strictly speaking, an IED is a bomb. I am not a demo expert, but I think they may have terms other than ’bomb’ for explosive charges used to drop bridges, cut pipelines, etc. Then there are mines, booby traps, and a host of other terms. Your complaint about expanding the definition comes too late, since anything that goes ’bang’ is now commonly referred to as an IED, including factory produced EFPs shipped in from Iran.


"bomb (bŏm)
n.
An explosive weapon detonated by impact, proximity to an object, a timing mechanism, or other means.
...."
http://www.answers.com/topic/bomb?cat=technology

"Definitions of IED on the Web:
Improvised explosive devices, conventionally known as "bombs.""
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&defl=en&q=define:IED&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I’ve seen it alleged (with not even a pretense of supporting evidence that I could see) that IEDs will be imported (via returning vets) into the inner city gang culture—used by competing gangs against each other.

I would not be so dismissive of the potential of IEDs for terrorist use (although I agree that this obviously just another screed aimed at extorting more funds for useless bureaucrats). Using a small number of IEDs against random autos on a major artery, or against buses during rush hour, even in one city, will cause a lot of angst and agitation. Low number of casualties does not mean a terrorist would reject a method like IEDs. Suicide bombers in Israel have a relatively low body count per incident, but cause massive grief and publicity.
 
Written By: kishnevi
URL: http://
all I have to say that, as a musician, I can solidly say that these bombs are no longer "improvised".

and wow, McQ, you’re finally equating IED’s with propaganda. Props to you. 4 years too late, but, you know what they say.

Calling them IED’s raises the image that these guys are kind of scrambling, trying to figure out how to put these things together - that they’re done on the spot, in the spur of the moment, with whatever spit and baling wire they can come up with.

I guess this helps to hide the fact of fiascos like Al Qa’qaa

Why don’t we call them bombs? How do they differ from bombs? They’re made from explosives and they blow up. Sounds like a bomb to me.

Anything to obfuscate and add to the FUD factor.

(and if I had read all of McQ’s post before I startng writing this, it would be a different comment. But, there it is.)


Everytime you use the internet, bow your head and give silent thanks to Al Gore for helping to make it possible. For without him, we’d still be jacking off to airbrushed pictures from Playboy.
 
Written By: mario
URL: http://
While all IED’s are bombs, not all bombs are IED’s. THe improvised part of an IED is that it’s made of of components whose original use was not to make bombs. The explosive could be a conventional explosive, or even a homemade explosive.

Now that we have the semantics out of the way, I have to agree that using the term IED is designed to get attention and probably a push for funding, and probably reinventing the wheel as well.

Most police departments have some type of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, ie, "bomb squad" capability, but counter-IED programs rely on much more than that. First off, while any nutcase with a copy of the Anarchists’ Cookbook, some tools, wire, and homemade/stolen explosive could conceivably build and plant IEDs, just how easily could he do all of that and how long could he remain unfound? The problems we face in Iraq and elsewhere re IED’s is that we don’t know the territory or the locals, and so we don’t know who to trust or how to easily get cooperation from the locals to catch IED makers. (Actually all this is changing, but not pertinent)

The reason IED’s in Iraq are so successful is manifold: that almost anyone can go anywhere and drop an IED, and the roads are in such a sad state of disrepair, and roadsides are so trash-filled and debris strewn that it is truly hard to tell what is a threat and what is just junk. Information from a bomber in Ramadi was not easily coordinated with info from a bombing in Fallujah, for example. THe US has a much better crime prevention and crime stopping infrastructure (when everyone is working together well, of course.)

So, even if McVeigh’s copycat, or Achmed the disgruntled jihadi, decided to blow up cars or roadways leading to a government building or a school, he’d have a harder time than an insurgent in Iraq would. Not only that, more people would be willing to work with the law enforcemnt agencies to cpature him, Americans generally have a better level of trust and more competent,and more numerous, officers than the Iraqis do. THe terrorists could not hide as easily amidst US citizens against a determined investigation, the cops speak hte language and know the people, unlike Iraq.

In short, more EOD is not the answer, good intel and police work will keep Americans safer than more K-9 units and disposal robots, and "no-knock" raids will. DHS should work on solving the problems it has with known threats and countermeasures before looking for something less likely to be the next big scare.

 
Written By: SFC SKI
URL: http://
There seems to be a lot of syntactical confusion here. The term IED dates to at least the 1970s when the British Army was dealing with them in The Troubles in Northern Ireland. As a relatively obscure military term, it came into widespread usage as the devices themselves came into widespread usage in the current conflict.

The media quickly seized upon it, probably feeling it gave them an added air of authority. As they often do, they started using it with imprecision and often outright incorrectness.

’Improvised’ does not in this usage mean impromptu or on the spot, it means ’field expedient’—making use of readily available items in a different manner than which they were intended.

Hence, I would venture a definition for an IED as ’an explosive device made in a field expedient manner, using available means and materials to effect a result or used in a way not intended in the original design of its separate components.’ Or more simply, ’an explosive device constructed in a field-expedient manner with available materials’.
McQ: "While technically IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is a term which refers to nothing other than the roadside bombs which have been so effective in Iraq, it is a well known term and people associate it with lethality."
Not true. An IED is not necessarily, though it often is, a ’roadside bomb’. An IED can be a suicide vest, bicycle-, motorcycle-, or car-borne explosive device, a simple pressure-plate booby trap, etcetera ad infinitum. IED is an umbrella term, and I think my above definition is a pretty good one to describe how it is used as a catch-all.
McQ: "Apparently "bomb" doesn’t have the same heft when trying to justify increased spending as IED does."
I agree that in this case it seems to be used in an alarmist way.

IED has become so misused and overused by the media that it has become a cliché. However, the term ’bomb’ is even less precise. ’Bomb’ could refer to things as diverse as a 60mm mortar round, a 40mm grenade launcher round (in British usage particularly), or a 2000-lb aerial bomb.

A ’car bomb’, as in a vehicle packed with explosives and used as a stationary or mobile explosive device, could be properly called an IED, more specifically a VBIED (vehicle-borne IED). Using simply ’car bomb’ may be misleading insofar as it could refer to a bomb placed in a car to kill the occupants.
McQ: "While there may be legitimate reasons to expand and further fund EOD functions within major metro police departments, IEDs isn’t one of them."
Most ’bombs’ that EOD deals with or would deal with in terrorist situations could technically be considered as ’IED’s. For example, the car bomb used by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City can be classified as a VBIED. A pipe bomb would be a simple anti-personnel IED. In a bit of a stretch, even a Molotov cocktail could technically be considered an IED: in the days prior to the widespread use of IED (1997), an Army field manual, FM 21-75 Combat Skills of the Soldier, lists it as a type of ’field-expedient antiarmor device’.
McQ: "However, what would be placed there won’t be an "IED" as we’ve come to understand them (IEDs are designed to kill a vehicle and its occupants, not collapse a bridge, tunnel or destroy a road)."
IEDs are and have been used to do just that: http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13376&Itemid=21

’Roadside bomb’ has been used in the media almost interchangeably with IED, but this can be erroneous. IED is not exactly synonymous with roadside bomb, just as it is not with EFP or car bomb.
McQ: "An "IED" is not a shaped charge. The shaped charge devices are called EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrators). IEDs are almost exclusively used to kill soft skinned vehicles. EFPs are almost exclusively used to kill armored vehicles ... When someone says bomb, you don’t think IED. When someone says IED, you don’t think EFP."
’EFP’ is a term itself that is even more misused then ’IED’. The two terms intersect but are not interchangeable: some EFPs are IEDs and vice versa, some are not. EFPs have been used in military munitions since the Second World War, and are currently used in aerial bombs, demolitions charges, etc.

An EFP can be considered a specific type of IED if it is ’field expedient’ or ’improvised’.
Mario: "Calling them IED’s raises the image that these guys are kind of scrambling, trying to figure out how to put these things together - that they’re done on the spot, in the spur of the moment, with whatever spit and baling wire they can come up with ... Why don’t we call them bombs? How do they differ from bombs? They’re made from explosives and they blow up. Sounds like a bomb to me. Anything to obfuscate and add to the FUD factor."
The term ’IED’ is not something created by the media or the administration or anyone else for any sinister purpose. Like I said, it is an old, and formerly fairly obscure, military term.

I think it came into general usage through the media in an attempt for them to sound erudite on the matters which they report. And, of course, it falls flat when coming from someone who doesn’t know the difference between a platoon and a brigade, or an M-4 and an F-16. I’d also prefer civilians to use the term ’bomb’ and its incarnations like ’roadside’ or ’car bomb’.

There is a huge and growing family of IED-based acronyms: VBIED, SVBIED, VOIED, RCIED, and many, many more. The military, especially the Army, has a serious problem about how they get carried away with acronyms.

As a kind of short-hand, probably originally stemming from the fact that you are copying by hand verbal orders and the like with limited time, the military likes to abbreviate everything, even mundane things. In accordance with (IAW), in order to (IOT), in vicinity of (IVO), priority of effort (POE), on or about (O/A), nothing significant to report (NSTR), etc. Sometimes it gets absolutely ridiculous like in the case of the IEDs. Or: The much older term ’C2’ (command and control) has mutated into ’C4ISR’ (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance). There’s an old joke that the only the Army would replace the four-letter word ’ruck(sack)’ with a six-word acronym: All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE).
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
Aside from all that, I do agree with the basic premise of the post: The term ’IED’ is being used here in an alarmist, almost fear-mongering, manner.

Bottom line: ’IEDs’ have ALWAYS been one of the biggest terrorist threats. Whether a car bomb, a ’dirty’ radiological bomb, or suicide vest, everyone in the counter-terrorism field has always known of the threat of ’IEDs’—by any name. In other words, it is nothing new, and nothing ushered in by the Iraq war.

Is there now an increased pool of individuals with experience and expertise in constructing and employing them? Undoubtedly. But that doesn’t make it anything new.
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
"just how easily could he do all of that and how long could he remain unfound?"

Ask the unibomber, for one.


"has mutated into ’C4ISR’"

Is that for real? Amazing.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I agree with the premise that any terrorist group with the ability to penetrate the U.S. in the post 9/11 environment is hardly likely to resort to using one single IED as the extent of their attack. However a series of detonations, in any public transportation system in any of our major cities will cripple public transportation in a large way.Single attacks are not the hallmark of Al Qaeda (AQ) attacks are done in parallel and AQ influenced groups such as those that attacked the housing compounds in Saudi Arabia will adhere to the AQ model.

Secondly, terrorists have successfully used IEDs, against U.S. interests around the world long before Iraq. Let’s start with the 1983 attack on the Marine Barracks in Lebanon. Let’s move to the U.S.S. Cole, Khobar Towers, the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Even before that, U.S. soldiers were attacked and killed by members of the Red Army Faction in Germany in the late 70’s through the 80’s. The list goes on. These events didn’t require a change in the definition of an IED in order to qualify as IED attacks. It’s both plain ignorant and wrong to say IEDs aren’t a weapon of terrorists. If anything, IEDs are the weapon of choice for terrorists.
 
Written By: Bruce
URL: http://executive-protection-news.com

 
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