Improvised explosives 'weapon of choice'

MAKESHIFT DESTRUCTION: A US Army soldier holds an IED in Afghanistan, 2012.
MAKESHIFT DESTRUCTION: A US Army soldier holds an IED in Afghanistan, 2012.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the number one threat facing soldiers, the New Zealand Army's Major Mark Bateman says.

Writing in a number of articles in Army News, Bateman says that IEDs are a "cheap, readily available, easily operable option that has been proven to be insidious, unscrupulous and indiscriminate."

He says although mines, booby traps and IEDs have been around for a while, only in Iraq and Afghanistan, has the true potential of an IED as a weapon of strategic significance has been recognised.

"IEDs are now one of the insurgent's preferred weapons of choice."

From January to September 2011 alone, the IED incidents outside of Afghanistan and Iraq caused 9302 casualties.

"The IED is a battlefield leveller," says Bateman.

"It is a low cost, effective weapon that changes the way military forces and law enforcement agencies must approach things in order to perform strategic, operational and tactical missions, wherever they may be."

Advances in information technology allow threat groups around the globe to share, learn and develop the know-how required for an IED campaign, and because of this, the weapon promises to be an enduring and constantly evolving feature of future conflict.

New Zealand Commander Joint Force Headquarters, Major General Dave Gawn has established a Counter Improvised Explosive Device Cell to develop counter-IED skills.

"IEDs provide a very real threat and one that is always evolving and spreading," Bateman says in an article late last year.

"It is a threat that the NZDF must be prepared to evolve alongside if we are to continue to ensure the safety and well- being of our service personnel around the world."

He said the NZDF was meeting and preparing to counter the threat.

DEADLY CREATION: Another IED in Afghanistan, seen in 2012.
DEADLY CREATION: Another IED in Afghanistan, seen in 2012.

Stuff