The Improvised Explosive Device will go down in history as one of the most deadly weapon systems in the 21st century of warfare. Here's a compilation of some IED strikes to prove it.
No one knows what the future holds. In the next twenty years, we could possibly, and probably see warfare taken to an entirely new level. Automation has bleed over fully into warfare. Drones and Robots are becoming an increasingly more and more dangerous threat on the battlefield as time advances. As that technology develops, and nations spend trillions of dollars improving on it however, there is one cheap weapon system that still sits at the top of the pecking order as far as the world's deadliest weapon system goes. That weapon system is a simple explosive device made from homemade materials, buried in the ground and concealed by the very terrain it's placed in. We call it the IED, or Improvised Explosive Device.
Throughout the entire Global War on Terror, the Improvised Explosive Device has dictated the way that larger nations fight against small guerilla factions. These weapons are supremely deadly, not because of how dangerous they are, but because of how cheap and effective they are at disabling vehicles and troops.
An IED can be manufactured by an illiterate goat herder for pennies on the dollar when compared to advanced weapon systems like the Javelin Missile and BGM-71 TOW. They can be employed by children with zero knowledge of the device they're burying on the side of the road. IED's can be laid in the tens of thousands over the course of a week in places like Nowzad and Fallujah. When it's all said and done, the weapon systems can be forgotten by the guerrillas who placed them in, and they can entirely dictate the movement of a far more technologically superior force.
To combat the IED in Iraq and Afghanistan, billions of dollars were spent in research, development, and training. Before every deployment, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen would spend weeks in the field enhancing their individual abilities at spotting anomalies on the battlefield. Each subsequent deployment would see the same troops being retrained on the current tactics, techniques, and procedures of their enemy.
Technology was rapidly developed in tandem with this training as well. Electronic warfare counter-measures were developed and strapped to everything from M1114 humvees to individual troops' backpacks. Mineroller systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars were attached to vehicles with the sole intention of being destroyed in place of the vehicle the troops were. Vehicles themselves were upgraded and outfitted with additional armor plating, and even higher ground clearance just to defeat the IED. None of it really mattered.
In the end, the IED persevered. Regardless of how much training and equipment was thrown at the problem, a water bottle with two metal leads connected to a yellow lard jug packed with $10 of homemade explosives inside of it was still capable of causing casualties amongst coalition forces. Regardless of what the future brings, it is unlikely that a weapon system as effective and devastating as the IED will ever make another appearance. We will however always have to live with the fact that these weapons exist.