A top U.S. general who oversees logistical support operations in Iraq says bomb attacks on supply convoys have doubled in the past year. But the general says better armor and tactics have reduced the overall effectiveness of the insurgent attacks.
Brigadier General Yves Fontaine says that, each week, there are now about 30 attacks on supply convoys. Speaking to reporters Friday via satellite from Balad, Iraq, the general said most of the attacks use improvised explosive devices, also called IEDs, buried along transportation routes.
"Our main threat is the IED on the logistics convoys coming from Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey, and then going to the Baghdad area," said Brigadier General Fontaine.
He says many of the attacks occur in the Sunni Triangle, a region northwest of Baghdad that has long been an insurgent stronghold.
The general oversees security for some 150 overland convoys each day, made up of about 2,500 vehicles. He says every vehicle that leaves a secure base now has at least some armor, and many have the best armor available. He says the improved armor has lowered the casualty rate from IEDs, despite the increase in attacks.
"Because we have up-armored our vehicles, the casualty [rate] has decreased significantly, even though the IED has increased significantly," he said.
But insurgents have begun adapting to the improved armor, using so-called "shape charges," designed to pierce the thick metal plates on vehicles, or modifying conventional explosives to make them more powerful.
Last week, a bomb attack in western Iraq flipped a 27-metric ton amphibious assault vehicle, killing all 14 U.S. Marines inside. Military officials later said insurgents stacked three land mines together to create the large bomb.
General Fontaine says the device is the first of its kind that the military has encountered.