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2004 April 16 Friday
Iraqis Cavalier About Unexploded Bombs

UPI reporter P. Mitchell Prothero reporting from Baghdad finds Iraqi soldiers take a very cavalier approach toward the disposal of improvised explosive device (IED) booby-trap bombs. (same article here)

As we stand a marginally safe distance away, one soldier explains that the Iraqis take a different approach to disposal of bombs than the Americans.

"When these guys find a bomb or a (rocket propelled grenade) they carry it to our base," one says. "We'll walk outside to talk to them and they'll be swinging a huge shell out of the back of truck all proud that they helped. We freak out every time."

Prothero went looking for a bomb that had been reported on a Baghdad street and found some Kurdish militia members (aside: there are Kurdish militia soldiers in Baghdad?) who directed him to the bomb. The whole story is insightful and entertaining. Check it out.

With regard to IEDs and the people who get the materials to put them together check out the Captain's Quarters blog post about an American ex-Special Forces soldier in Iraq: A Contractor Tells About His Mission. One of the lessons I took from that post is that the US military really is understaffed in Iraq. The "abandoned Ammunition Supply Point (ASP)" described in the article is one of many such in Iraq that looters (showing the same cavalier attitude toward explosives as described by Prothero above) go through to get bomb materials to sell to the groups that are blowing up American soldiers almost daily. Well, with enough US forces on the ground those ASP locations would have been cleaned out a long time ago and fewer American soldiers would be coming home in boxes.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 April 16 11:11 AM  Mideast Iraq


Comments
Fly said at April 17, 2004 7:37 PM:

How easy is it to get weapons and bomb materials in Iraq? If the enemy has caches all over the country then there may be little point in spending maximal effort on choking off the flow. More soldiers deployed on guard would then just mean more targets. (Also the more intrusive our presence, the more resentment in the general populace.)

Perhaps the military strategy is to have sufficient coalition force to be able exert our will wherever we wish while using local Iraqis with tribal connections for low priority security.

My own belief is that the military commanders are balancing many factors. As the situation on the ground changes they may need more or fewer troops. Presumably the administration will be responsive to their requests.

Randall Parker said at April 17, 2004 8:29 PM:

Fly, These old ammo dumps are not at secret locations. The fact that they haven't been emptied out yet by our forces is a sign that we do not have enough troops there.

More soldiers on guard? They'd need to guard the people who clean out the dumps only while the dumps are being cleaned out. Once the dumps are cleaned out there'd be no need for the guarding at those locations.

The fact that those dumps are being looted by Iraqis in order to sell what they find is an indication that the buyers of what they find do not already have enough bomb materials. We could make it harder for the enemy to get bombs and weapons if we had more people to go collect all the stuff that is lying around.

The military strategy? The strategy is based on what to do when you do not have enough troops to occupy the country. That inevitably involves tough trade-offs. Yes, the military commanders are balancing many factors - including the factor that they do not have enough troops.

Intrusive presence? We wouldn't need more troops in populated areas to be able to go to remote ammon dumps.

Randall Parker said at April 17, 2004 8:30 PM:

Fly, These old ammo dumps are not at secret locations. The fact that they haven't been emptied out yet by our forces is a sign that we do not have enough troops there.

More soldiers on guard? They'd need to guard the people who clean out the dumps only while the dumps are being cleaned out. Once the dumps are cleaned out there'd be no need for the guarding at those locations.

The fact that those dumps are being looted by Iraqis in order to sell what they find is an indication that the buyers of what they find do not already have enough bomb materials. We could make it harder for the enemy to get bombs and weapons if we had more people to go collect all the stuff that is lying around.

The military strategy? The strategy is based on what to do when you do not have enough troops to occupy the country. That inevitably involves tough trade-offs. Yes, the military commanders are balancing many factors - including the factor that they do not have enough troops.

Intrusive presence? We wouldn't need more troops in populated areas to be able to go to remote ammon dumps.


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