A bit of luck and a gift from a serviceman's
family member helped save six U.S. service members currently deployed in
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Fessenden used a
basic RC truck with an attached wireless video camera able to scout ahead while
out on patrol. After loaning the truck to a different unit, the little RC
vehicle set off a 500-lb. IED blast triggered by a hidden trip wire.
Since he first
received the device in 2007, it helped locate multiple suspected IEDs
designed to cause as much devastation as possible. Staff Sgt. Fessenden's
brother and shop friend plan to try and create a new truck that can be shipped
for use in Afghanistan.
It may sound silly that a small RC toy truck is being
used to detect IEDs, but troops on the ground are willing to accept any help
they can. Techniques have ranged from trained dogs to sniff out IEDs to
better intelligence from locals that run the risk of repercussion from the
The U.S. Air Force continually uses
high-resolution cameras to try and locate IEDs, while ground troops use metal
detectors and similar devices to find IEDs. Growing use of unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) has also helped identify insurgents planting roadside
bombs, along with pinpoint precision strikes to destroy the munitions.
Insurgents routinely use IED attacks -- including booby-trapped
items and bodies -- before sometimes launching small-arms attacks on soldiers.
Unfortunately, soldier amputations from Afghan IED
dramatically increased as soldiers dismount armored vehicles to carry out foot
Using cell phones, devices with on-off switches,
or connecting wires to set off IEDs, insurgents are very familiar with U.S.
patrol tactics -- an important lesson to military officers trying to stifle the
catastrophic damage from IEDs.
U.S. lawmakers and Pakistan are already testing
the boundaries of a weary relationship with growing concern that about 84
percent of ammonium nitrate used in IEDs comes from two Pakistani plants.
Questions related to IED attacks should remain a
major topic as the number of killed and wounded by these sometimes
sophisticated devices continues to increase.