The latest headlines you’ll find front page right now:


On Aug. 3, 2005, the deadliest roadside bomb ever encountered by U.S. troops in Iraq detonated beneath a 26-ton armored personnel carrier, killing 14 Marines and revealing yet another American vulnerability in the struggle against improvised explosive devices.

Whoa. 2005. Folks, these are the latest headlines around.

In fact, the story is the third part of what looks to be an excellent series in the Washington Post by Rick Atkinson about the struggle against IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the headline treatment, the undated front page picture (which is from the 2005 incident), and the general sensationalism on aren’t really helpful.

MO noted the 2005 attack at the time and wondered if AAVs were the right vehicle for the mission. Though I continue to wonder, it’s also clear that increasing the size of bombs is a lot easier than upgrading a fleet of vehicles. Not to mention that added lethality of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) and other upgrades readily available to the upper-tier bomb makers and those getting support from Iran and other outsiders will be able to keep pace with defensive adjustments.


  1. With a big enough bomb, you can destroy any armored vehicle out there. They’ve built ones big enough to destroy M1 tanks (that’s not a secret) and I’ve seen pictures of at least two Bradleys that were flipped and destroyed. And Brads are heavier (30 tons) and more heavily armored than the AAVPs. Of course, bombs that big take lots of time to emplace, and are relatively rare. Actually, I don’t think we’ve seen any in that weight class since the one that destroyed a 3/2 Stryker in Baquba and killed 6 back in May. (That one scared me good, because my wife’s cousin was in Baquba at the time.) If I had to predict, I’d say they’ll become even more rare, as AQ is on the run, and thus don’t have the time in one spot to emplace bombs like that, and as the population gives increasing tips to coalition forces about bombs and bombers. All in all, I think the Post is at least a year late in pushing this as a story.

  2. These tactics are generally reflective of those used to great effect against the Soviets in Afghanistan, as well as the Israelis in southern Lebanon and the Occupied Territories. Back then, ebb and flow dictated enemy deployment and disposition, just as it does today in Iraq. Potentiality is what the article brings to our attention. This is attrition warfare. The enemy will continue to seek out any weakness, given the advantage of time and space. There were relative lulls in Afghanistan and southern Lebanon, too. Perhaps the biggest differences are the multi-dimensional aspects of the Iraqi War, and the indigenous ingenuity of the involved enemy combatants. Israeli AFV’s are receiving much needed attention after the failure of the 2nd Lebanon War. Especially upgraded, their APC’s. In many ways, they face a more formidable opponent on equally unfavorable ground. Keep in mind that their adversary has been provided with over 20 years of wartime experience, to give a relative timeframe between the Iraq War and the struggle between Israel and Hezbollah.