Bush: Technology, better training have reduced lethality of IEDs
WASHINGTON — President Bush said Monday that new technology and better training has helped cut the lethality of improvised explosive devices by half in recent months, but that roadside bombs remain a threat to coalition forces and thus Iraq’s stability.
In a speech at George Washington University, the first of three planned for this week, Bush said that tips from Iraqis about bombmakers have increased tenfold in the last year, which have led troops to several large weapons caches in recent weeks.
But he said that insurgents have been quick to adapt their tactics to U.S. raids and technology, noting that in some cases “the enemy can use even the smallest details to overcome our defenses.”
Bush also said that recent intelligence has shown many of the most powerful IEDs have components from Iran, and said intelligence services have found evidence that country is providing Shia militias with instructions on how to build and operate the remote explosives.
“Such actions, along with Iran’s support for terrorism, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran,” he said. “America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”
Since the start of military operations in Iraq, 937 troops have been killed by explosive devices and more than 9,600 have been wounded by them, according to Defense Department statistics. Another 70 have been killed and 626 injured by bombs, classified separately from IEDs.
An analysis by The Associated Press released Monday of U.S. forces killed in Iraq showed IED casualties from the bombs are still increasing, despite better armor and tactics.
Since mid-2005, an average of 40 Americans a month have been killed by improvised explosives, twice the rate of the previous 12 months, the AP reported. In February, 38 of 55 American military personnel killed in Iraq were IED victims.
Bush said that in the last six months, coalition forces have found and disarmed more than 4,000 IEDs.
On Saturday, the president met with retired Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs, head of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, to discuss the task force’s progress and tactics already in use in Iraq. He said the group is working to “put the best technology in the hands of our people on the front lines.”
The group is scheduled to receive about $3.3 billion in funding this year, up sharply from the $150 million allotted for anti-IED work in 2004.
Stars and Stripes reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.