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Pentagon Stepping Up Efforts To Combat Roadside Bombs In Iraq: General

Conway said defeating IEDs was now one of the military's highest priorities. He said the Pentagon was discussing putting a three-star general in charge as a way to step up the anti-IED effort, which is currently led by Brigadier General Joseph Votel.

Washington (AFP) Nov 03, 2005
The Pentagon is considering putting a three-star general in charge of stepped-up efforts to combat insurgent bombings in Iraq, senior defense officials said Thursday.

The move comes amid rising US casualties caused by so-called improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq.

Lieutenant General James Conway, operations director of the Joint Staff, said greater focus is being put on IEDs "because it's the only tool the enemy really has left in order to be able to take us on and be able to really cause casualties."

A 140-person Pentagon task force has been working on ways to combat the roadside bombings since mid-2004.

Despite 1.5 billion dollars in funding, the group has produced no technological silver bullet against IEDs, and insurgents have managed to stay a step ahead of new tactics developed by the military.

In October, the fourth deadliest month of the Iraq war for the US military, bomb explosions accounted for more than half of the US dead, according to statistics compiled by the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index.

Conway said defeating IEDs was now one of the military's highest priorities.

He said the Pentagon was discussing putting a three-star general in charge as a way to step up the anti-IED effort, which is currently led by Brigadier General Joseph Votel.

"It's just that it remains the only thing that we haven't solved, I think, in terms of the enemy capability to operate against us," he said. "And every facet of what we can do is being thrown against it."

Lawrence DiRita, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department also wants to involve other government agencies in the effort.

Senior military officials said US forces have become more effective at blunting the impact of roadside bombings but the sheer volume of attacks have increased.

Insurgents also are using larger and sometimes more sophisticated bombs employing shaped explosions capable of blowing through armor.

"Historically it's been hard," said Conway.

"If you go all the way back to the British experience in Northern Ireland, they had problems with it. The Israelis in northern Israel and Lebanon have had problems with it, and we've tried to study what their experiences were and to learn from that," he said.

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US To Keep 160,000 Troops In Iraq Through December Vote: Officials
Washington (AFP) Nov 03, 2005
The US military will keep about 160,000 troops in Iraq through national elections in December and then decide how far US force levels in the country can be reduced, senior Pentagon officials said Thursday.







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