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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — IED attacks in Afghanistan have gone up along with the rising troop levels and likely will continue to increase if more U.S. forces are sent there, the head of the Joint IED Defeat Organization said on Tuesday.

There were 860 IED incidents in September, down slightly from more than 1,000 in July, but significantly higher than the 352 incidents in September 2008, according to information provided by JIEDDO.

While the vast majority of IEDs were either ineffective or cleared ahead of time, there were still 106 effective attacks in September compared with 38 effective attacks a year ago.

The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has nearly doubled this year to 68,000, and the White House is considering a request from the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan for more than 40,000 additional troops.

JIEDDO Director Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz said he thinks IED attacks would continue to increase if the U.S. sent more troops to Afghanistan.

“Just as we found in [Regional Command-South], the enemy had a lot of time to put a lot of IEDs in and we have bumped into a lot of them,” Metz said. “The enemy’s having to replace them, and that’s taking time and energy and money, and the fight’s on.”

Metz, who will retire on Nov. 13, attributed the slight decrease in recent months to the fact that all the extra troops already approved for Afghanistan have arrived are learning the terrain. Still, he acknowledged that the ratio of IED incidents to casualties has remained fairly steady in Afghanistan, compared with Iraq, where insurgents increasingly have to use more IEDs to inflict a single casualty.

JIEDDO is working on technology to find pressure plates and tripwires for IEDs, but ultimately, Metz said, it will take all of the elements of the counterinsurgency strategy to reduce IED attacks in Afghanistan.

“Getting good governance and getting the economy and getting essential services and taking care of the people — there’s a flow of all this to counterinsurgency, and we won’t step out and defeat the IED all by itself without the other things coming along,” he said.


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