Know your IEDs

As you get ready to deploy to Afghanistan both in pre-mobilization and post-mobilization training and maybe even in your indoctrination training once you get in country, you will get more than your fair share of IED training. You will see many of the same pics, same videos, etc. over and over. You will probably hear about how IEDs work in Iraq and may or may not hear about how they work in Afghanistan.

I can tell you that the IEDs in Afghanistan are not as sophisticated as they typically are in Iraq but they tend to be much, much larger.

You will learn about the signs to look for on the side of the road, in the road and how to know what areas on the road are the highest risk.

In the interest of OPSEC I will not spell out all of those details in this blog, as I don’t want the enemy to know how we know where they bury those nasty things.

However I will talk about how you as a service-member may be traveling the roads could make a good guess as to what kinds of IEDs may be on the route you want to take.

There are several categories and sub-categories of IEDs. There are victim-initiated and command detonated.

Victim-initiated (VI) are dumb IEDs and the most dangerous. They don’t distinguish between local Afghans or coalition soldiers. They don’t require a triggerman or spotter. As the name suggests, they are triggered by the victim themselves. Good examples would be pressure plate IEDs or even a basic landmine.

Command Detonated (CD) IEDs are smarter than victim-initiated as in they require a trigger man to detonate. These triggers could be hardwired to the explosive or remote control detonated via a wireless signal of some type. There will always be a triggerman and these triggermen will almost always have “eyes on” the location of the IED so they know when to “trigger” it.

It is common to fine VI IEDs on routes that are not as heavily traveled by Afghans, and are usually on routes where the enemy can influence the locals to stay off of the route. The local areas can be informed of the threat so they don’t travel on the route. This raises the chance that only coalition forces will be the ones to initiate the IED. So this means you will rarely see VI IEDs on routes that have heavy traffic. For lack of a better term, these would be main supply routes (by Afghan standards).

Another example is that you can expect to see VI IEDs on routes which are one way (into a dead end of a valley, etc.), or on routes between small villages. This is why it is important to practice very good opsec and not allow your movement plans to leak out. If the enemy finds out you are planning to visit a particular location then it helps them know what routes they stand the highest chance of hitting you on.

CD IEDs will typically be found on high-traffic routes where any number of people could travel (jingle trucks, taxis, coalition forces, etc.) On these types of routes the enemy wants to be more selective of their target and hit the right target at the right time. While on these types of routes where there is a higher chance of seeing CD vs. VI IEDs you always want to have situational awareness of the area around you and in front of you to keep an eye out for the trigger man. There is also a slight chance to see VI IEDs on routes like this as I once experienced myself.

While on one mission, a part of our unit used a specific route that we were not aware of. Because of that and the fact that an IED cell was given an alert that we were heading down the road, they were able to hastily plant a standard anti-tank landmine with a modified tilt-rod. They did this as we rolled down the road and as we found out later, just barely got it installed before we came up on them.  In fact the IED planter rode his bike right by my truck and even waved to me.

I know this was not a lot of info, but writing this posting with really meaningful information and with all that you need to know is very tough as OPSEC has to be adhered to. So that is why this posting is shaped to know the most probable type of IED you may see, and not necessarily how to defeat it.  You will get the best briefing on that once you get into country, but I hope it is before you ever get your world “rocked” by one of these nasty things.

09.08 IED strike 15 

Command detonated IED hole that  killed two and wounded two. This was a double-stack daisy-chain “pusher charge”



What a hastily planted anti-tank landmine will do to an Afghan Army Light Tactical Vehicle.



Hole left by Remote Controlled IED set off by a trigger man with bad timing. It blew right before the lead Humvee got to it. As you can see by the size of the hole, this was built for serious damage.


  1. Very informative but I am glad you are still here to post this info. Love ya!!

  2. Amazing information here that I hope many read. It's so easy to read about IEDs, but to see the actual damage caused by one makes you really think about what these men and women face in Afghanistan. Thank you!

  3. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/30/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  4. Glad you are okay and thank you for posting responsibly.

    Linked to this on my MySpace and Twitter.

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