How to tackle a problem like the IED

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Defence IQ recently investigated the current gamut of new gadgets on offer to military and police forces confronted with the task of defeating the growing tide of explosive ordnance being used among insurgencies, terrorists, and even criminal organisations.

At a London-based industry event, we met up with Major Chris Hunter QGM, a former British Army Bomb Disposal Operator in Iraq, now a senior IED analyst, and the inspiration and advisor on the recent Hollywood film ‘The Hurt Locker’.

On the subject of counter-IED technology, Hunter points first to the nature of the bomb itself and the ease with which it grows in sophistication.

“If you look at the IRA, for example, who were our primary threat for thirty years, the level of sophistication they achieved in that time – and they were the best bombmakers in the world – was superseded in just 12 months when we went into Iraq in 2003-2004,” he says.

“That’s just continued at a rapid and alarming rate. It was superseded in Afghanistan in just 18 months.”

Concept

As the IED presents a variety of problems, Hunter confirms that there is now a need for technology to respond in kind, offering technologies that are not specific to one solution, but to many.

“As every IED specialists will say, there is no silver bullet. But if you’re talking about the Defeat the Device component, where we’re looking at technologies to detect and neutralise, we have to really focus on multi-sensor technologies.

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A Serial Bomber in Phoenix

May 31, 2012 | 0900 GMT


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Stratfor By Scott Stewart

A small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a Salvation Army distribution center in Phoenix, Ariz., on the afternoon of May 24. Two Salvation Army employees discovered the explosive device, which was concealed inside a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight, as they were sorting through a box of donated items. The IED exploded when one of the employees picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on. The blast was not very powerful, and the two employees suffered only minor injuries.

This was the third incident in the Greater Phoenix area in recent weeks involving an IED concealed in a flashlight. Two explosive devices very similar to the May 24 IED exploded May 13 and May 14 in Glendale, Ariz., a city in the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Both devices were abandoned in public places. In the May 13 incident, a woman discovered a yellow, hand-held 6-volt flashlight next to a tree outside a Glendale business. When the woman picked up the flashlight and attempted to turn it on, it exploded, causing minor scratches and bruises to her face and hands. It also inflicted minor wounds to a woman beside her. The next day, a man found an identical flashlight in a ditch where he was working in another part of Glendale. He was lightly injured when the flashlight exploded as he attempted to turn it on.

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