Surge in IED Attacks Coincides With Iraqi Political Progress
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2005 It's little surprise that October turned out to be one of the most violent months in Iraq, as insurgents stepped up their attacks in an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the Oct. 15 referendum, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Pentagon reporters today.
"It's understandable that the two months that have had the highest casualties were last January and this October," Marine Gen. Peter Pace said. Both were election months during which more U.S. and coalition forces were on the ground in Iraq to help maintain security, he pointed out.
"And as we projected would happen, the insurgents were trying to divert the Iraqi people, prevent them from participating in the political process," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld cited a pattern of increasing troop strength during election times, when terrorists are most likely to try to disrupt that process. However, he said, no decisions have yet been made about troop strengths during Iraq's upcoming Dec. 15 national elections.
"But it would not be a surprise to me that the commanders would want to have some sort of an overlap there," the secretary said.
Improvised explosive devices remain a big concern, Pace said. He noted that while attacks are on the increase, their actual effectiveness has dropped.
"Between the increase in armor and the changes in tactics, techniques and procedures that we've employed, the numbers of ... IED attacks that have been effective has gone down, and the numbers of casualties per effective attack has gone down," he said.
Meanwhile, the military is doing everything in its power to help protect troops against these attacks, Pace said.
"We are continuing to work through all of our technologies, tactics, techniques and procedures to provide to our soldiers and Marines on the ground the best possible personal protection - not only in the form of armor, but also in how we operate on the battlefield," he said.
Pace declined to provide specifics about how insurgents are deploying roadside bombs or how coalition forces are protecting themselves against them, "because that really would put our troops at risk," he said.