Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reader Comment – 02-02-10 IED Training

Edward posted a comment to my earlier blog on IME. Edward made two points in his post. First he noted the difficulty in getting American law enforcement to take IED’s seriously. Second he noted that potential IEDs in the United States would be fundamentally different than those found in places like Iraq and Afghanistan were the military has gained their principle experience with IEDs. Law Enforcement and IEDs Edward wrote:
“This is a valid point, we saw this need two years ago and developed training for first responders, not only how to detect their use, but also their manufacturing and testing. We also included in the training how to respond to an IED. When peddled to police departments, they all asked ‘Why do we need this? We aren't in Iraq’”
This isn’t too surprising; Americans have always felt safely isolated behind their two oceans. This is one of the reasons for the major psychological shock that accompanied the 9/11 attacks. Those attacks drove home the fact that we were as vulnerable as the rest of the world to terrorist attacks. Since then, the lack of attacks and the ineptitude of the terrorists that have been publicly apprehended have allowed us to plaster over that shock and return to our illusion of isolated safety. The next attack will be an even bigger shock to our psyche. New IED Techniques Edward wrote:
“As we in the US do not have thousands of unexploded artillery rounds laying in stockpiles, the terrorist must and will procure explosives by any means possible. I have long stated that one of my biggest fears are the blast products made for mining. Hopefully we will not have to experience the effects of these weapons before we take action.”
Edward’s point is that that the bulk of IED’s in combat zones are based upon compromised military explosives or military munitions. Since this is not a combat zone those explosives will not be readily available to terrorist bomb makers. So the terrorists will have to turn to more readily available alternatives. The mining explosives that Edward refers to are based on ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate is widely available in this country and the other components of an AN-IED are also readily available. These explosives are readily adaptable to large vehicle born explosives (VBIEDs). A wide variety of other chemicals are available to make both liquid and solid explosives that are more suitable for smaller devices. Americans and Explosives What is strange in this discussion is that Americans have been long enamored with explosives and improvised explosive devices. As a teenager I played with pipe bombs and made a few improvised explosives. One only has to watch the local press around the country to find frequent references to mailbox bombs, low-yield chemical explosive devices constructed in large soda bottles; they are usually teenage pranks. And there is a substantial folklore associated with more professional bombers in this country. Given all of that, it is still the ‘can’t happen here’ attitude encountered by Edward that seems to prevail with most law enforcement personnel. This is true even though every major city in the US seems to have a bomb squad on staff or the use the resources of one at a local military facility. But, I’m afraid that Edward is right, that attitude won’t change until terrorist IED’s start taking American lives on American soil.


Laurie Thomas said...

Anyone who wants to have their eyes opened about IED's on U. S. soil needs to take about ten minutes and simply do an internet search on stolen ammonium nitrate. Big amounts here, big amounts there. Some large enough to warrant DHS threat directives. The first hit is, "Canada - 2 tons of ammonium nitrate possibly still missing?" What is scarier, that people are walking away with the stuff; or that despite all our precautions and programs our accounting is so porous that we just don't know how much of the stuff is supposed to be on hand?

fmillar said...

FYI -- IME also is the logo and acronym for the Institute of Makers of Explosives, lest anyone be confused.

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