The Washington Post has published the first in a four part series called "Left of Boom," on improvised explosive devices, commonly referred to by their acronym, IEDs. "Left of Boom" refers to offensive counter-IED methods, tactics and strategies--disrupting and stopping IED builders and the people who deploy IEDs before the boom. Right of boom would be defensive efforts, such as acquiring vehicles better able to survive an attack or at least protect their passengers. The recent, tardy and massive effort to procure mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) is an example of right of boom. Jamming IED detonators, which can be simple transmitters such as garage door openers, is a focus on the boom itself. The Post makes clear that left of boom efforts have not been at the forefront of US initiatives. An analyst in Iraq working to improve the U.S.'s counter-IED tactics and strategies told me:
The key to success in this insurgency is not more defensive posture (i.e., armor, jammers, MRAPs) it is in establishing an viable, offensive, counter-IED operation - something we seem powerless to do. Unless we reconsider what we are doing here and how we are doing it, a year from now or two, or three, our casualty rate from IEDs, MRAPS or not, will be much higher than it is today.
With the arrival and increase in use of explosively formed penetrators, even MRAPs and tanks are vulnerable--making the need to stop the construction of bombs in the first place even more urgent.
-- Nick Schwellenbach