US 'doubling' efforts to counter deadly Afghan bombs
Kabul: The United States is set to deliver USD 3 billion worth of equipment aimed at countering Taliban-made crude bombs used in the Afghan war, a US official on Thursday said.
Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, have become the main weapon used against international and Afghan forces fighting to end an insurgency increasingly seen as bogged down in favour of the Taliban.
The equipment was "at least doubling" current counter-IED capacity as forces did not have all they needed to take on an escalating threat, said Ashton Carter, US undersecretary of defence for acquisition, technology and logistics.
The new equipment, including tethered surveillance blimps, heavily armoured vehicles and detection machinery such as robots and mine detectors, would arrive in Afghanistan in coming months, he told reporters.
Carter said the equipment would be accompanied by about 1,000 counter-IED experts, including laboratory technicians, intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials.
"This is an enormous plug of extra effort," he said, adding that the equipment would be shared with coalition and Afghan forces.
IEDs are the biggest threat facing troops engaged in the war in Afghanistan, now well into its ninth year.
They are easy and cheap to produce, often using ammonium nitrate fertiliser that is produced in Pakistan and trucked across the border into Afghanistan, Carter said.
The bombs are difficult to detect, often buried by roadsides and remotely detonated to devastating effect.
Many of the more than 330 foreign soldiers killed so far this year have died of injuries sustained in IED attacks.
Those who do not die often suffer life-changing injuries.