first published on March 6, 2018 by Josh
Afghanistan was a cake walk for Taliban improvised explosive device teams when compared to AQI teams in Iraq. In Iraq, the IED teams had to compete with concrete roads that limited them to roadside bombs in most cases, and a civilian population that also heavily trafficked the same roads as coalition forces. While the improvised explosive devices seen in Iraq were certainly more innovative, and in a lot of cases destructive, the teams that placed them had a much harder time on a macro scale getting a large number of devices in the ground compared to what the Taliban teams were up against in the rural dirt roads of Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, all an IED cell needed in order to put in a large number of improvised explosive devices was a large number of devices, a shovel, and a little bit of time out of the vision of coalition forces. Routes like 515, and 611 were easy targets for these IED cells, as it took very little time to drop a device into a previously created crater before sweeping some dirt over the device to conceal it. Making new IED sites was also just as simple. Ten minutes is all it took for a skilled IED team to scooter up to a new position, dig a quick hole, drop in a device, hastily conceal it, and escape back to their stash of devices. It was not uncommon for these teams to get themselves fifteen minutes ahead of a coalition patrol to put in a massive explosive device.
It is no surprise to see a video like this released to the public. In the spring of 2009 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Pegasus deployed 2,800 troops to support a surge in combat operations in Afghanistan. Their mission was to fly aerial support combat operations in order to allow ISAF troops on the ground more freedom of movement. In this video, taken from the gun cam of one of 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s Apache attack helicopters, a small group of Taliban fighters are spotted digging in the road and concealing and improvised explosive device. While the exact location of this video is unknown even nine years later, there is a lot that can be learned.
In the five minutes it takes for the pilots to receive clearance to engage their targets, look at how much work the IED team gets done. They finish digging the hole, place the device inside of the hole, and begin pulling the command wire out towards a position that will give them complete control of the device. Compare this to some of the operations in Iraq, where improvised explosives were either put in so hastily that they were easy to defeat with the naked eye, or hours had to be spent melting the concrete or tunneling underneath of it to set up a well concealed device. Regardless, at the end of the video the IED team quickly learns that all of their hard work and training was for nothing.