Calming the IED Storm
THE SOURCE: “The Secret History of Iraq’s Invisible War” by Noah Shachtman, at Wired.com , June 14, 2011.
A man punches a few buttons on his cell phone. Hundreds of yards away a hidden bomb detonates, unleashing a brain-rattling blast wave and propelling scorching bits of shrapnel in every direction. For U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, this scene has played out thousands of times, but Wired contributing editor Noah Shachtman reports it is becoming rarer. The United States has made big steps in defusing the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
It’s been a long and ugly journey. When the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, all that American troops had to protect themselves from IEDs were a few short-range radio frequency jammers. By late 2002, the Navy had developed a more sophisticated jammer called the Acorn, which blanketed a set of radio frequencies with competing signals, preventing an IED’s trigger signal from reaching its bomb. But bombers soon learned to switch frequencies.
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