March 23, 2007

CBS: IED Attacks Decrease Dramatically

CBS News published a report on Wednesday that escaped my attention, but it should get wide play in the blogosphere. According to their sources in the military, the surge has resulted in a stark dropoff of roadside bomb attacks, a reversal of the pre-surge trend:

After warning that the threat of deadly EFPs, or Explosively Formed Penetrators, was growing at an alarming rate, the U.S. military now says there's been a "dramatic" decrease in the use of the powerful roadside bombs.

EFPs "can punch through most of the armor out on the battlefield today," Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman said of the devices, which U.S. officials have said come from Iran. ...

"In February, we noticed a 47 percent decrease in explosively formed penetrators being detonated against our troops, a 53 percent decrease in the number of troops wounded and a 51 percent decrease in the number of troops killed" by the devices, he said.

The reported decrease came as the U.S. military offered to reporters what it said was proof that weapons like EFPs were being manufactured in Iran. The Iranian government has denied any involvement in providing weapons or material support to Iraq's insurgency.

According to Garver, the reasons for the marked drop in EFP incidents could include the detention of three Iranians in Baghdad in December. One of the men was believed to be a high-level Operations Officer with the Quds Force of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard.

It hardly seems coincidental that the attacks have dropped so dramatically at the same time that the US has implemented tough new strategies for securing Baghdad and addressing Iran. The Pentagon had insisted that many of the EFPs came from Iran, and the warning that George Bush gave Iran specifically referenced these weapons.

The results contradict the predictions of surge critics. Many expected an immediate increase in these kinds of attacks, and indeed the media has reported those that have occurred in detail. If this information is correct, the opposite has occurred; as the US and Iraqi forces deploy into the neighborhoods of Baghdad, they push out the terrorists who plant these bombs, and they seize the facilities where EFPs are held.

Did the capture of the Iranians in Iraq have anything directly to do with the decrease? Perhaps the Iranians did the actual distribution work, or helped support the logistics of getting the EFPs into the hands of the terrorists. It may not even have been that direct. The Iranians may just have gotten the message that we no longer would force ourselves to use rules of engagement that handcuffed us and allowed Iran to infiltrate Iraq and stage attacks on us with no response.

In an update to the story, in which CBS corrects the numbers they used in their initial report, they also state that the numbers in the first two weeks of March continue the trend of declining attacks. That's before the next brigade of US troops arrive in Baghdad with the specific mission to cut off the smuggling routes that bring EFPs into the capital.

It looks like the surge is succeeding faster than the anti-war critics can get Congress to declare defeat.


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Comments (7)

Posted by sam pender [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 5:38 AM

Someone should tell NBC's Richard Engel. He says IED's are not only staying the same in number, but increasing. 'Course, he still maintains that the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad was "bombed" by US forces during the invasion.

Posted by Bill K [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 6:56 AM

You need to understand the difference between an EFP and an IED. EFPs are just one type of IED. They have always been just a small percentage of the IEDs used in Iraq. IEDs can use a variety of explosives and be deployed in a variety of configurations. EFPs are just one configuration that is very effective against lightly armored vehicles.

It is quite possible for EFP use to go down at the same time IED use is increasing. What probably happened is that one of the places that made the EFPs got shut down.

Posted by Lightwave [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 7:22 AM

And now, another Journalism 101 lesson. Questions to ask House Democrats before today's vote on the Bleeding America's Courageous Kids and Surrendering to Terrorists Abroad Bill (BACKSTAB):

"With the recent CBS News report on a decrease in IEDs and other news reports in the last month indicating the President's Iraq strategy is working, why are you choosing now to put funding and morale for our troops at risk?"

"How do you morally reconcile the position that this war is wrong with voting to continue funding this war and waiting to end it 12 months from now?"

"What would you say to the Iraqis who are counting on our presence to prevent possible ethnic cleansing and genocide where they live? What about the message this legislation sends to our enemies?"

"How do you respond to charges that you are not voting your conscience, but that you are politically triangulating?"

America would like to see those answers. But these important questions will not be asked.

Posted by TomB [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 7:38 AM

EFP is a very precise wepon: you need a carefuly, precisely shaped metal disk MATCHING the explosive type (average Muhhamed simply can not do it). The device is big, has to be placed in proper position, then you have to have a proper moment to trigger the explosion (i.e. somebody has to watch the thing and trigger it at the right moment). It means a lot of operational exposure and if our check points a quater efficient and the "price list" is right ( how much we pay to the informant) it is almost impossible to use.

Posted by reddog [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 10:30 AM

The various groups of insurgents, all of them, want the US "surge" strategy to appear successful, convincing the American public to support an extended American military presence in Iraq. It is only within the framework of an American occupation that the free-for-all civil war currently taking place can continue.

If we leave Iraq, you can be sure we will leave behind a large US armed and supplied indigenous armed force. This force will be highly motivated to consolidate their power as soon as possible. Their rules of engagement will be very different than those of the " hearts and minds" US forces. A largely secular military dictatorship would soon be established. Saddam II, if you will.

What's going on in Iraq is tribal and religious. They are all staking out turf and trying to eliminate their competition. They can't continue to do this if we leave. Ergo, the calm in the eye of the storm.

Posted by burt [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 23, 2007 6:21 PM

Would anyone explain to me how an explosively formed penetrators are different, if they are, from shaped charges which have become ubiquitous at least since the WWII bazooka. A shaped charge of adequate size will certainly penetrate any armored vehicle. In 1953 a shaped charge warhead for the Lacrosse "pill box buster" missile was tested against a reinforced concrete wall. It was a big warhead, 1000 lb., but it penetrated eighteen feet through the wall. By penetrate I mean a large mass of molten metal came out the other side. To penetrate a six foot reinforced concrete wall would require a 37 lb. shaped charge (1000x(6/18)^3). I would judge, but don't know, that six feet of reinforced concrete is as resistant to penetration as most or all vehicle armor. The narrow jet of molten metal which comes out of a shaped charge must hit the target; the charge must be aligned adequatly such that this happens.

Posted by TomB [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 9:01 AM