EFP attacks down drastically in Iraq
• See the presentation from the general's briefing here.
ARLINGTON, Va. — Explosively formed penetrator attacks in Iraq are "way down over the past couple of months," said the head of the Joint IED Defeat Organization.
The number of EFPs that U.S. troops encountered in July was "in the teens," Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz told reporters Wednesday.
"I think it’s probably connected with Sadr’s militia and his direction to calm down," Metz said.
Widely known as "EFPs," the penetrators are a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb that fire a slug of high density metal at a high velocity, giving the penetrator much more power than roadside bombs of similar size made from artillery shells.
Since he became head of JIEDDO in December, EFPs have made up between 5 percent and 10 percent of all roadside bombs per month, but they have accounted for 40 percent of casualties, Metz said.
As with previous JIEDDO roundtables, no specific information was provided on the number of roadside bomb attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan due to security concerns.
Overall, the number of roadside bombs that U.S. troops encounter is down more than 50 percent from its peak of between 2,800 and 3,000 per month, Metz said.
As U.S. troops get better at jamming radio-controlled bombs, the enemy in Iraq has shifted to low-tech means to set them off, such as pressure plates and tripwires.
While such methods mean those who implant roadside bombs can be spotted more easily, it also makes the job of stopping roadside bombs harder.
"It’s still a very hard physics problem to be moving down the road at 30 miles an hour and have a device that can look into the ground and detect at a very low false-positive rate, you know, a pressure plate that’s under there," he said.
While U.S. troops are dealing with fewer roadside bombs in Iraq, the trend is going in the other direction in Afghanistan, Metz said.
After dropping off during the winter, the number of roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan has risen dramatically since the beginning of the year, according to Wednesday’s presentation.
During the peak of roadside bomb attacks this spring, coalition troops encountered about 200 roadside bombs, resulting in about 40 casualties, Metz said.
The increase is due in part to the presence of more coalition troops in Afghanistan, he said.
Meanwhile, JIEDDO is counting about 300 "IED events" outside Iraq and Afghanistan per month, underscoring the need to defeat IED networks as a strategic threat, he said.
"I do not want every thug in the world to pick up on the fact that the IED is his weapon of choice, because it’ll come to the homeland, and I don’t want it in the homeland," Metz said.