Irish experience a vital part of skills to counter DIY bombs

Crusader74

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Irish experience a vital part of skills to counter DIY bombs

ANALYSIS: Defence Forces personnel in Afghanistan are finding their expertise in homemade bombs, gained during the Troubles and in the Lebanon, is in demand as Nato troops fight Taliban forces bankrolled by drug money, writes Tom Clonan

NATO'S INTERNATIONAL Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) has experienced a surge in casualties in recent months. The numbers of troops killed now totals just under 1,000 - almost one quarter of the total number of troops killed in Iraq. The US has lost 611, while 120 British soldiers have been killed in action.

The majority of these casualties have been caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Taliban is currently employing a classic "asymmetric" campaign against Nato's forces, which strongly resembles the 1980s CIA-backed Mujahideen resistance campaign against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The casualty statistics for Nato speak volumes about the Taliban's tactics and strategy. Of the 988 Nato troops killed to date, 303 have been killed by roadside bombs or car bombs configured as IEDs. A further 35 or so have been killed in suicide bomb attacks. Relatively few Nato troops have been killed in direct fire-fights with Taliban guerrillas, with just over 100 Nato personnel killed by small arms fire.

A simple analysis of these figures reveals an enemy that is reluctant to engage Nato on equal terms - in conventional fire-fights. Rather, the Taliban, not unlike its Sunni counterparts in Iraq, has chosen to harass and ambush Nato troops on a continuous basis - waging an asymmetric war of attrition.

In this war of attrition, hundreds of Nato troops have died in non-hostile incidents, mostly vehicle accidents and suicides in remote forward-operating bases over the last seven years.

An astonishing number have been killed in helicopter and aircraft crashes. Denied use of ground routes by roadside bombers and forced to take to the air, approximately 130 Nato troops have been killed to date in air crashes or rocket-propelled grenade attacks on helicopters.

Against this background, the US has set up a group to try to devise a way of countering IEDs and has sought Irish assistance.

At present, there is one Defence Forces officer - at the rank of lieutenant colonel - attached to an IED analysis cell at the Nato-led international force's Kabul headquarters. He is there because of what Irish ordnance officers learned during the Troubles and also through Irish peacekeeping activities with Unifil in south Lebanon. Because of this experience, Irish ordnance officers are considered world experts in the development of IED countermeasures.

The analysis cell in Kabul examines forensically the type of devices used by Taliban fighters. The results have led ISAF to conclude that the Taliban is receiving support from "former regime elements" and insurgency groups within Iraq, along with Iranian component parts and expertise allegedly imported into Afghanistan by the special forces component of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Intelligence suggests also that the Taliban is funding its operations through the heroin trade. Conservative estimates indicate that 93 per cent of the world's heroin and morphine is provided by Taliban-controlled opium operations - yielding an estimated 7,000 tonnes this year - within Afghanistan and along its porous border with Pakistan.

According to ISAF intelligence, some of the drug money is also used to finance internet campaigns in which militant Islamist websites show films of IED attacks on Isaf troops. These are believed to act as recruiting tools for fighters to travel to Afghanistan from countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, to attack Nato forces.

ISAF, in turn, has launched an intensive web-based counter-propaganda campaign designed to challenge the Taliban's subversive presence on the internet. This campaign includes articles in Arabic and other local dialects on the ISAF website and elsewhere on the web along with multimedia campaigns - including radio broadcasts and leaflet distribution - throughout ISAF regional commands within Afghanistan.

A senior Irish officer is currently deployed to ISAF information co-ordination centre and is involved in counter-propaganda operations. In addition to these measures, ISAF is developing IED-detection devices.

Intelligence gathering and education are central to ISAF's campaign to reduce the current surge in casualties of IEDs.

As part of this effort, two senior Irish officers are working in the operations section of the ISAF's headquarters in Kabul. One of them is tasked with monitoring and updating force protection measures throughout ISAF - with particular emphasis on those contributing nations, such as the US, France and Britain, whose soldiers have been the victims of IED attacks.

As the Taliban intensifies its campaign, it will continue to rely on the revenues generated by the sale of heroin and other drugs in cities such as Dublin.

Nato and EU intelligence staff believe that the type of IEDs being developed and perfected in Afghanistan may eventually be used in terror attacks throughout Europe - particularly within countries that are active participants in the so-called global war on terror.

Dr Tom Clonan is the Irish Times security analyst. He lectures in the School of Media, DIT

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/...715115952.html
 

pardus

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He is there because of what Irish ordnance officers learned during the Troubles and also through Irish peacekeeping activities with Unifil in south Lebanon. Because of this experience, Irish ordnance officers are considered world experts in the development of IED countermeasures.


Umm, what about the Brits? I think they'd know more than anyone about the IRA bombs etc... :uhh:
 
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