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Monday, March 13, 2006

Three words that didn't change anything

The Anderson Cooper 360 Blog has an entry about IEDs at 3:29 PM, Mar. 13.

Improvised explosive device.

It's probably safe to venture that just a few years ago most Americans had never heard those three little words used together in one phrase.

More than any other topic I've seen, discussing IEDs separates those who know at least something about military history from those who are only pretending to. No statement about the current situation in Iraq can reveal your idiocy faster than "We've never gone up against anything like IEDs before."

The media has never called them IEDs before, but as long as there have been explosives IEDs have been part of combat.

In WWII Belarusian rebels used coordinated IED attack to derail Nazi trains, later called the Belarusian 'Rail War.'

Fans of Saving Private Ryan remember the "sticky bombs" Captain Miller ordered his men to make (fill a sock with explosive, insert fuse, cover sock in grease, light fuse, stick to a tank's tracks). While the "sticky bombs" would most likely work in real life, there's no evidence that they were actually used or that they are referenced in any field manual of the time.

However, the British did have a Sticky bomb, the No 74 ST Grenade, which was just powerful a hand grenade with adhesive on its shell. The obvious problem with this is that the grenade often stuck to the thrower's hand of clothes, making for one instantly unpopular soldier.

The Viet Cong were extremely thrifty enemies in regards to traps. Everything from the cartridge trap to the mud ball mine were commonly done with our own weapons. The cartridge trap is where a rifle round is buried pointing up, with the tip slightly out of the ground. The primer is set on a nail or sharp object so the round goes off when someone steps on it.

The mud ball mine is similar to a James Bond move from Tomorrow Never Dies. Pull the pin on a grenade and, carefully, cake it with mud. The mud hardens so that when someone steps on it the dirt cracks open, releasing the grenade lever. Boom.

My favorite is the grenade in a can. Place a hand grenade inside of a tin can, tie the grenade to a trip wire, pull the pin and walk away. Stepping on the trip wire will pull the grenade out. It's particularly effective because the first person in a formation trips the bomb, and then a few seconds pass before the grenade goes off. More enemies go bang. This was used by both US and Viet Cong forces.


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