IED Answer: Foot Patrols?

Everybody seems to have an answer to the homemade bomb problem: more cargo flights, more radio frequency jammers, even explosive-spotting lasers.pi20051105a1.jpgThis story in the current Atlantic has a solution I hadn't seen before. The idea, from Gen. Joseph Votel, who headed the IED task force until recently, is to have troops stop riding through Baghdad or Ramadi on Humvees, and start walking the streets.

The growing use of IEDs is forcing America's military strategists to rethink centuries of military doctrine holding that in warfare, mobility equals dominance. Votel told me that given the success that IEDs have had against America's fleet of motor vehicles, the Pentagon may need to switch to more foot patrols. An intelligence analyst working on the IED problem agreed, saying, "The answer to the IEDs is to leave the vehicles. It's obvious. It's the only choice."
Really? I don't know much about infantry tactics. But I do know a soldier who was killed by a jury-rigged bomb. He was one his feet, not in a Humvee. Same goes for the British explosives specialist who lost limbs to an IED.But the vulnerability isn't even the big issue. Coverage is. The Army equivalent on the cop walking the beat works fine, if you've got lots and lots of cops in a very small area. In Iraq, there are 150,000 or so soldiers and marines trying to control a place the size of California. That means each patrol has to cover a really wide area -- too wide, really, to walk. Driving is the only way.Besides, as the Atlantic notes, more foot patrols "would expose U.S. soldiers to other risks, including snipers. And the December detonation of an IED in Fallujah, killing ten Marines on foot patrol, shows that soldiers will remain vulnerable to IEDs whether on foot or behind the wheel."Next...
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