Throughout Afghanistan, roadside bombs are increasing in number and in size, with devastating consequences for U.S. troops and Afghan truck drivers alike, according to a report in U.S. News & World Report.
Drainage culverts under roads in rural areas regularly conceal these improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, with increasingly large charges. Roadside bombs that once weighed 10 to 20 pounds have morphed into multigallon drums packed with 200 to 500 pounds of explosives, the magazine reported.
The enhanced bombs have in some cases proved effective in destroying the U.S. military’s new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, U.S. News wrote. The vehicles feature a V-shaped hull to disperse the impact of roadside bombs.
The vehicles were not built, however, to withstand 200 pounds worth of explosives. "They’ve flipped MRAPs 15 feet in the air sometimes," one U.S. officer in Afghanistan told U.S. News. "And they break them in half."
On one recent drive between U.S. military installations in Ghazni province, troops from the 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment dismounted to check each culvert along a paved road, the magazine reported. It is painstaking work — the culverts are every 100 yards in some areas.
But recently the battalion caught a break when an unmanned aerial vehicle discovered a nine-man team planting IEDs near a U.S. forward operating base and called in an airstrike, according to U.S. News. When troops got to the scene, they found people whose watches were set to Pakistan time and pockets were full of Pakistani money, the magazine noted.