Taliban IEDs as TTPs

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 9 months ago

From The Washington Times:

The Taliban has been building simpler, cheaper anti-personnel bombs made of hard-to-detect nonmetal components, increasing the number of lethal attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to a confidential military report.

The shift in the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) away from larger anti-armor bombs has allowed the Taliban to produce more weapons and hide them in more places as they strive to kill larger numbers of American forces in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province and other contested regions.

The change in production from metal-dominated explosives to devices made of plastic is making it more difficult for ground troops to detect the buried IEDs with portable mine-detectors, creating an “urgent need” inside the Pentagon for better detection devices, the report said.

The new Taliban tactics are disclosed in a confidential report from the Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Times.

The area around Now Zad, northwest of Kandahar, has experienced some of the most ferocious fighting for control of southern Afghanistan since the surge of 21,000 U.S. troops began last spring. News reports and military bloggers say Marines on patrol face a constant threat from hidden IEDs.

“Although the Taliban still fights with small-arms, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices, they have increasingly focused the role of IEDs as antipersonnel devices,” the report said. “Smaller, lighter, more quickly constructed and quite often triggered by a victim-operated switch [booby trap], these antipersonnel IEDs have been a significant factor in labeling Now Zad the most dangerous location with the highest U.S. casualty rate in either the Afghan or Iraq theaters.”

The Aug. 11 report, titled, “The Taliban’s Emerging IED TTPs in the Proving Grounds of Now Zad, Helmand Province,” was written by an analyst at U.S. Central Command, which oversees troops in the Middle East and Afghanistan. TTPs is short for tactics, techniques and procedures …

In the past two months, more than half of the battlefield deaths suffered by NATO troops were caused by IEDs. This month, of 31 fatalities, 15 came from IEDs; in August, 46 of the 77 coalition deaths resulted from these devices, according to icasualties.org.

The Pentagon report said the Taliban IED research-and-development program used the Now Zad region to show that smaller, more numerous IEDs kill more people. The rate for dead and wounded for the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment stood at one-third of the unit in August, the report said. A typical Marine battalion has 800 to 1,000 troops.

A military official, who monitors Afghanistan and asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the Taliban is shifting to small IEDs for a number of reasons.

“You’ve got the fear factor,” the source said. “It’s also less costly. It’s easier for them to build those things and use them as opposed to running the risk of getting in firefights and losing people. The cost is relatively low. We’re fighting guys who from all appearances are from three centuries ago, but we can’t figure out how to beat them.”

The Pentagon report said the Taliban has become adept at mining a road called the “Pakistani Alley” — so-named because Taliban militants use it to ferry in new fighters from the neighboring country.

“U.S. troop movements are split between foot and mounted patrols,” the report said. “The terrain and deplorable road conditions often necessitate that foot patrols be conducted on uneven terrain. The Taliban have taken advantage of this by littering the area north of ‘Pakistani Alley’ with numerous antipersonnel IEDs to maintain control over their northern buffer-zone.”

Robert Maginnis, a military analyst and Army adviser, said IEDs are tailor-made for Afghanistan.

“IEDs are effective in Afghanistan in part because of the terrain,” Mr. Maginnis said. “There are few paved roads, which means planting a device in or near a road is easier and harder to detect by visual inspection. The increase in Taliban use of IEDs is due to the increased coalition forces in country, which forced the relatively small Taliban force to adjust its tactics. It stretches the force’s impact.”

Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis, a spokesman for Gen. Stanley McChrystral, the top commander in Afghanistan, told The Times the general has stepped up efforts to disrupt networks before they can plant bombs, and get better intelligence on where they are embedded in light of “the weapons’ increasing use against coalition forces and because of the impact of a larger number of indiscriminate, victim-operated IEDs on the Afghan people.”

I would like to get a copy of this report, but my web-based e-mail for the web site (contact information) isn’t currently working.  No one has covered Now Zad like I have, and that merits some consideration.  Either way, it’s good to get better intelligence, and the article ends with technological advancements that may help in the detection of IEDs of this kind, but these are only half-way measures.  As we discussed in On the Front Lines with the Marine in Helmand, there aren’t enough Marines in place to prevent Taliban brutality towards the Afghans who would otherwise want to cooperate.  Intelligence to shut down the traffickers in IEDs will only go so far.  Force Projection is necessary.

We must go after them where they live, where they traffic their supplies, and where they recruit and train.  We must shut down their logistics, kill their fighters, and cause them to live in fear.  We must cause them to stay on the run such that they have neither the time nor supplies to construct or emplace IEDs.  Only then will they be so preoccupied with staying alive that they forget the population.  Then we will have won.  IEDs will no longer be a problem because the Taliban aren’t a problem.  They go hand in hand, and one will not be defeated without the other.  We cannot first defeat IEDs and then the Taliban – just like it was in Iraq.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On September 16, 2009 at 8:36 am, TSAlfabet said:

    Captain, concerning the IED challenge, what do you think, purely as a tactical matter, of using a similar method to what was done in Desert Storm, i.e., the use of bulldozers or other tracked vehicles equipped with large, fork-like tines on the front to rake through the soil and clear pathways for foot patrols?

    For general edification, here is a link to an article posted just today that details the various anti-mine vehicles used in Desert Storm.


    The Mine Flail system would seem promising against the anti-personnel mines being used by the T-ban, as would the full-width mine rake. In Desert Storm, the mine rake was viewed as being too slow to use due to concerns about exposure of troops to enemy artillery, but this is presumably not an issue in A-stan.

    I realize this is no answer to your larger point of going after the enemy where they live (which I wholeheartedly agree with), but it would seem to force a difficult choice on the T-ban. On one hand, they are opting for cheaper, plastic explosives which are easier to implant and, presumably not as potent against armored vehicles. On the other hand, if U.S. forces start using these mine-clearing vehicles, the cheap IED’s can largely be neutralized as our troops follow behind the cleared paths, particularly since we are avoiding main roads now anyway. The T-ban would then have to go back to implanting heavier, anti-tank mines which are more expensive, more difficult to emplace and put their people at risk. At that point, U.S. forces can use traditional technologies for detecting the anti-tank mines. According to the article, the mine rakes can survive multiple anti-tank explosions. Not sure if it is logistically feasible to supply each combat unit with one of these vehicles, but it would certainly be cheaper than losing our most valuable asset– marines, to death and disabling injuries.

    Another advantage of the Mine Rake is its ability to create a safe lane which is slightly wider than an Abrams tank, allowing our troops to go back to mounted vehicles and bring supplies (i.e. WATER) with them.

    Of course, this only addresses the issue of getting to and from the target location. It would probably do nothing to solve the problem of IED’s embedded all over a town or village on command wires. Not sure what you do about that.

  2. On September 16, 2009 at 10:25 am, Warbucks said:

    Ta-DA-A-A-A-A-A-H !!!

    Your attention is respectfully invited to LLNL laboratories (https://www.llnl.gov/) and it’s many advanced technologies for detecting airborne molecules of all sorts with hand held field equipment.

    With some tweaking, LLNL’s stuff could be made to work in the field to identify airborne molecules from plastics to explosives, to body odors.

  3. On September 16, 2009 at 8:27 pm, blkfoot_04 said:

    So here is just some simple ideas that maybe we aught to look into.

    1) The Taliban and Al Qaida is whipping our butts in the media battle. Anything the Allied Forces do that just might cause a death or injury of a civilian is promply brought out and displayed with bright spotlights and glittering lettering. And without knowing just who is Taliban and who is Joe Chit the Ragman Civilian…we’ll always be losing this battle. We need to get a handle of the “propaganda” war.
    2) All the Afghans ever see of the Allies is Warriors (oh, our troops are doing a great job don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but the highest respect for our service personel over there, but, their troops, combat- armed to the teeth ready to kick azz and take names troops)…even the small amount of Civilians sent over there look like some sort of soldier. How are you going to get the mindset changed to “trust us” if all they have ever seen is foreign combat troops trying to secure safe areas on your home turf. Imagine if you can, that in your town or village all the time. You didn’t invite them here, unwanted guest.
    3) Children. Children are the future, Children are open to making new friends…Children are Afghanistan, Children remember kindness, friendliness, gifts and who gave them..who can be their friend. If this country could once again mobilise the giving power of Churches, and start a Toy’s and clothes for tots programs to be handed out to the Children of Afghanstan…by our soldiers and Marines…a whole new strategy of “hearts and Minds” would begin. Shoes, socks coats, gloves, hats, teddy bears or other stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, gum or candy, picture books and caned foods and cooking utensils, solar cook stoves….things these people just don’t have everyday. Clean out every Goodwill in the United States and just give this stuff away to needed Afghan families. Do not enclude religion.
    4) Buy vegitables from the local farmers for the Military base camps, make it worth their while to change their Poppies to Corn, Wheat, Tomatoes, Beans, Beets, Rice, Potatoes, Lettuce, Carrots, Broccoli, Aspargus, Caulaflower, Chickens, Beef, Eggs, Lamb (I would suggest Pork but being a muslim country I doubt if there’s any big farms of those around), create that market that they need to kick start a larger market thru out Afghanastan and neighboring countries…Hell, there’s over 68,000 US troops, plus the Nato troops, plus the supporting units not in country and off shore on ships…we’re talking a Massive market out there, compared to having to ship all this stuff from the U.S. and Europe to Afghanastan….Also get NGO’s involved for purchases for African nations that need food. Build a industry and infastructure.
    5) Start shipping over brand new 1800’s style farm empliments like plows and disks (pulled by oxen or donkeys), harvest equipment, thashers, elevators and storage bins and corn cribs (contact our Amish people here in the States, they still make and use this stuff). And give it too the farmers
    6) BEAT the Taliban and Al Qaida at a game they have no pieces to match with. Out smart these guys at a strategy they couldn’t beat. Anything we “give” or buy from the locals is all positive, the Taliban or Al Qaida, if they take it away from the locals are walking right into the trap of Suggestion #1!

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You are currently reading "Taliban IEDs as TTPs", entry #3828 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,IEDs,Taliban and was published September 15th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (704)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (40)
Air Power (10)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (22)
Ammunition (278)
Animals (292)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (373)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (87)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (29)
Australian Army (7)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (3)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (223)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (18)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (3)
Blogs (24)
Body Armor (23)
Books (3)
Border War (18)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (38)
British Army (35)
Camping (5)
Canada (17)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (16)
Christmas (16)
CIA (30)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (3)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (218)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (210)
Department of Homeland Security (26)
Disaster Preparedness (5)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (15)
Donald Trump (27)
Drone Campaign (4)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (2)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (39)
Featured (189)
Federal Firearms Laws (18)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (1,778)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (15)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (44)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (9)
Georgia (19)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (1,651)
Guns (2,318)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (8)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (5)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (16)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (3)
Horses (2)
Humor (72)
Hunting (34)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (108)
India (10)
Infantry (4)
Information Warfare (4)
Infrastructure (4)
Intelligence (23)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (171)
Iraq (379)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (64)
Islamists (98)
Israel (19)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (3)
Jihadists (81)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (7)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (6)
Lawfare (14)
Leadership (6)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (50)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (280)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
Media (68)
Medical (146)
Memorial Day (6)
Mexican Cartels (41)
Mexico (61)
Michael Yon (6)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (5)
Military Equipment (25)
Militia (9)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (25)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (25)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (95)
NATO (15)
Navy (30)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (3)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (3)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (62)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (221)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (7)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (73)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (4)
Pizzagate (21)
Police (653)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (973)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (493)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (75)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (37)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (674)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (28)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (23)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (57)
Survival (186)
SWAT Raids (57)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (38)
Tactical Gear (14)
Taliban (168)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (21)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (96)
Thanksgiving (13)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (25)
TSA Ineptitude (14)
TTPs (4)
U.S. Border Patrol (6)
U.S. Border Security (19)
U.S. Sovereignty (24)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (10)
Uncategorized (98)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (3)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (414)
War & Warfare (41)
War Movies (4)
War Reporting (21)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (79)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (21)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

June 2024
May 2024
April 2024
March 2024
February 2024
January 2024
December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2024 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.