Hi-Tech vs. Homemade Weapons in A'stan

This week, the Department of Defense's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization convened its first Homemade Explosives Conference, to brainstorm ideas on how to defeat improvised explosive devices — the number one killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The conference invited members of government, academia, and the fertilizer industry, to come up with feasible solutions to stop the diversion of fertilizer into homemade explosives, or HME. "These IEDs are increasingly comprised of fertilizer-based homemade explosives as their primary explosive component," JIEDDO Director Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero said Tuesday in his opening remarks of the three day conference in Crystal City, Virginia. According to Barbero, more than 80 percent of the IEDs in Afghanistan — which cause 90 percent of the casualties there — have HME as the main charge. The majority of HME is easily derived from calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer, he said.

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