With 80 per cent of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan caused by roadside bombs planted by Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, the Pentagon is creating a department-wide task force to find ways to counter the menace.
“I have decided I need to focus my attention on this problem,” said Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The challenges faced by the U.S. troops in Afghanistan are different from those in Iraq, Gates said.
He said most of the improvised explosive devices or IEDs in Iraq were based mainly on artillery shells and triggered electronically. Those in Afghanistan are made primarily from fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, with mines as detonators, Washington Post quoted Mr. Gates as saying.
He also pointed out that Afghanistan’s terrain is different, its road system is different — streets running from paved to unpaved to nonexistent — and the bomb builders’ networks are structured differently than in Iraq.
Mr. Gates has recently expressed concern about whether the Pentagon groups working on the threat — the Joint IED Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO),
the intelligence community and the commanders in the field — are properly integrated and sufficiently flexible.
The JIEDDO is the multibillion-dollar agency set up to lead and coordinate the Defence Department’s efforts in countering the roadside bomb menace.