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New Type of IEDs Impact U.S. Forces in Iraq

The two "dirty" chlorine truck bomb explosions have gotten most of the recent publicity, and may signal a change in tactics and capabilities on the part of the "insurgents." However, not getting as much play in the media is a new type of IED called a "speed bump" made from plastic explosive sandwiched between two layers of metal (even like baking tins). These homemade devices explode when a vehicle travels over it, often ripping into the underbelly of an unarmored underside. Military officials in Iraq point to these "speed bumps" as another emerging IED threat -- one that has received less attention because it does not require Iranian assistance to manufacture.

Already, IEDs cause an estimated 70% of the deaths and serious injuries in Iraq. Because of the desert environment, these speed bump bombs are difficult to detect since they can simply be covered with dirt. The anti-IED task force was been funded to the tune of $3.5 billion in 2006, and yet, our military vehicles remain vulnerable to attcks. Some of the newer veihcles have "V" shaped bottoms that deflect a blast and prevent many serious injuries. But is pretty clear that more needs to be done since the terrorists have shown the ability to stay one step ahead of us, even if the "innovations" are made in a local machine shop.

Earlier today, U.S. forces raided a car bomb factory containing propane tanks and ordinary chemicals. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said:

"What we are seeing is a change in the tactics, but their strategy has not changed. And that's to create high-profile attacks to instill fear and division amongst the Iraqi people," he told CNN. "It's a real crude attempt to raise the terror level by taking and mixing ordinary chemicals with explosive devices, trying to instill that fear within the Iraqi people."

Presumably, this new strategy is backfiring on the insurgents as Iraqis are more frequently calling in tips. Still, the adaptive nature of the attacks is a disturbing trend.