IED Watch

By John Liang / March 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM

With insurgents in Afghanistan increasing their use of improvised explosive devices, a senior coalition commander on the ground in that country was asked what can be done to counteract these IEDs.

Dutch Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, the commander of Regional Command South in Afghanistan, briefed Pentagon reporters earlier this morning via satellite. De Kruif, who commands about 23,000 troops from 17 nations, is responsible for security and stability operations in the southern region of Afghanistan.

Getting more protection against IEDs is not just a matter of putting more armor on vehicles, according to the Defense Department transcript of de Kruif's remarks:

The first step is having an approach in which you win the hearts and minds of the people. So that means that every day, although we have an IED threat, our forces will go out and have a 24/7 presence amongst the Afghan people. Because by the end of the day, it is the Afghan people who will deny the use of IEDs by the insurgency.

And I just wanted to mention to you that more than 70 percent of the IEDs in Kandahar city are turned in to us or the ANSF by the Afghan people. So this just shows you how -- to put it mildly -- how fed up the Afghans are, the local nationals, with IEDs.

The second step is that you've got into the IED system, that you need to know where the facilities are, where they train the IED cells and where they produce the IEDs. That is mainly a work which is conducted by special forces now. And we are definitely increasing the capacity we have of special forces in RC South, mainly focusing on getting more information of the IED system.

The next step is that you get better capabilities regarding the detection of the IEDs. We are, over the next couple of months, significantly increasing the capabilities we have with new systems to detect IEDs on the ground.

And then last but not least, yes, if we are not able to find an IED, we should protect our people. So the availability of well-protected vehicles like the MRAPs are essential. And one of the highlights which we integrate in our planning from the start is that we would have enough MRAPs available for the U.S. forces coming in.

Let me make one other remark. It's not only ISAF who needs to improve its IED capabilities. But we are now in the process of significantly increas((ing)) the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces in their counter-IED capabilities. So we are moving forward the right way. But we all know that beating the IED system will be a very long and difficult fight.