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ARLINGTON, Va. — Attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan are increasingly sophisticated and complex, the senior U.S. commander in the country said Tuesday.

Insurgents once ambushed a U.S. convoy or attacked it with a roadside bomb, but seldom would approach or stop the vehicles, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, told Pentagon reporters during a briefing from Afghanistan.

"The convoy could drive right through," said Schloesser, who is also commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division.

Now, he said, the attacks are much more complex. A roadside bomb will stop a convoy, followed by an immediate ambush, with insurgents firing from both sides of the road to pin the convoy down.

"Then, as a Quick Reaction Force comes in," Schloesser said, insurgents will detonate a second, pre-planted roadside bomb, to stop the rescuers.

Schloesser said insurgents are also using more powerful bombs, and "it’s not all that sophisticated just to increase the size of the explosive."

One reason for the bigger bombs, he said, is that insurgents have been trying to probe possible weaknesses in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

The MRAPs, which are being used in increasing numbers in Afghanistan, have V-shaped hulls and high-riding undercarriages that, along with their increased armor, make them less vulnerable to roadside bombs and other explosives.

Compared to the same time period in 2007, there has been a 40 percent increase in attacks against coalition personnel in Afghanistan since he took his post in early April, Schloesser said.

Insurgents attacking coalition forces have increased their use of direct-fire attacks, indirect fire attacks which employ mortars and crude rockets, and improvised explosive devices such as roadside bombs, Schloesser said.

The enemy has decreased its number of suicide attacks, Schloesser said.

Twelve percent of all attacks, Schloesser said, are cross-border forays from Pakistan’s frontier into Afghanistan by an increasingly diverse variety of groups that are using the no-man’s land as a safe haven.


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