On a patrol near the town of Balad this morning with 1-8 Infantry, the driver of the Humvee I was in appeared to be tailgating the Humvee in front of ours. Later he confessed that he was trying to stay in what he called the "bubble", the effective range of the Humvee's Warlock radio jammer. Warlock is a family of systems designed to counter improvised explosive devices, many of which are triggered remotely by radio. Patrol leader 1st Lt. Derek Austin said he always places his Warlock Humvee in the middle of his three-vehicle patrol in order to fit everyone inside the bubble. "Does it work?" I asked about the Warlock. Austin shrugged. "We think it works." He described one IED exploding as soon as the bubble passed by, perhaps meaning some frustrated insurgent had been furiously mashing his detonator, wondering why it wasn't exploding. [They seemed to work for the Baghdad Bomb Squad, too -- ed.] Warlocks are everywhere these days. The original, massive Warlocks that filled up entire Humvees have been supplanted by the current, smaller Warlock Combo. There's also what's called a Warlock Blue, actually a personal Warlock the size and shape of a walkie-talkie. [This summer, contracts were awarded to produce 10,000 of the things. -- ed.] Austin said soldiers wear these while manning check points in order to thwart car-borne suicide bombers. Warlock isn't perfect, mind you. It only works against radio-detonated IEDs. Pressure- or infra-red-triggered and hard-wired IEDs are immune. But for what it's designed for, Warlock works just fine. On the other hand, some soldiers suspect those little Blues cause cancer. And Warlock wreaks havoc on aerial drones like the Raven. More on that later ... -- David Axe
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