Varna, 30 May 2011 - NATO STEPS UP RESPONSE TO HOME-MADE BOMBS IN AFGHANISTAN
NATO is increasing its investment in counter-measures to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan, which are responsible for the greatest number of casualties, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly heard on Sunday 29 May.
“Over the last three years, about 60 per cent of NATO casualties in Afghanistan have been caused by IEDs, while between 2008 and 2010, IED events in Afghanistan increased by over 300 percent“, Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin told the Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee.
The improvised devices also claimed the largest number of fatalities among Afghan troops and civilians, Nolin said as he presented his draft special report, titled "Countering the Afghan Insurgency: Low-Tech Threats, High-Tech Solutions".
These bombs, often made for a handful of dollars, not only pose a major threat to the operations of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but they may undermine NATO’s overall goals in Afghanistan, the Rapporteur told the delegates, gathered for the Assembly’s Spring Session in Varna.
“Unsurprisingly, many resources have been devoted to defeating the IED threat over the years,” the report said. The US Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) alone, established in 2006, has an annual budget of over 3 billion dollars, it said.
Technological counter-IED (C-IED) measures have included unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, used to monitor suspicious activity such as planting the bombs, and unmanned ground vehicles that scour the earth for concealed devices, Nolin said.
Other measures included the opening of a center of excellence in
As a result, there were “encouraging signs in C-IED efforts in Afghanistan,” Nolin said, such as the “apparent disruption by the coalition forces of IED networks and the discovery of about four times more weapons and explosives than normal, according to General David Petraeus,” the Commander of the Allied troops in Afghanistan.
But the Rapporteur conceded that the enemy is rapidly adapting. “So far, no actual breakthrough in C-IED efforts has been achieved, even though some promising avenues are being pursued by ISAF nations,” he said.
The report also analysed the drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in particular the controversial drone campaign by the United States in Pakistan. Although the latter is not part of the ISAF mission, the report concluded that it has a significant impact of the mission in
In the debate following the presentation, British MP Caroline Dinenage raised the issue of dismantling bombs to search for fingerprints and other clues, in order to catch insurgents and bring them to justice, instead of detonating them, which a number of ISAF forces had turned to. While certainly a long-term goal, Nolin pointed out that the Afghan justice system unfortunately did not yet possess the capabilities and capacities to process the information.