By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 15, 2007 - Initiatives taken in Iraq over the past 11 months have reduced improvised-explosive-device attacks dramatically and sent the enemy scrambling, Multinational Corps Iraq's deputy commander for support told reporters in Baghdad today. Army Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons pointed to a dramatic drop in IED "events" -- explosions or identifications. In March, 3,239 IED incidents were reported, with 1,641 of them exploding and 1,489 identified and cleared. In October, that number was down almost 50 percent. Of 1,560 IED events, 763 exploded and 767 were cleared.
"IED attacks and corresponding casualties for coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians have dropped significantly," Simmons said. "We have seized the initiative and placed the enemy on the defense."
Simmons credited the troop surge with helping bring about the turnaround, but cited other new initiatives, too. In June, combat engineers began disabling IEDs, a task that had been restricted to explosive ordnance disposal forces. This freed EOD and weapons intelligence teams to focus on the most dangerous IEDs and promising cache finds, he said.
Troops are responding to more IEDs, and, with the help of a new Multinational Corps Iraq biometric cell, have doubled their apprehension rate in the last four months, he said. They're also uncovering more weapons caches. "We found more caches by May of this year than in all of 2006," Simmons said.
In addition, more Iraqis who have tired of terrorists operating in their neighborhoods are passing tips about their whereabouts to coalition troops and Iraqi security forces, he said.
"Since June 2007, attacks and casualties have dropped to the lowest rate in two years," Simmons said. "Although there remain tough pockets of enemy resistance that must be defeated, reporting through the 14th of November indicates a continuation of these positive trends."
Most of the IED incidents are now occurring in Multinational Division North's battle space, the area north of Taji that stretches to Mosul. Simmons said that's where enemy forces have moved since being pushed out of Anbar province and Baghdad.
"The fighting in al Anbar (and) the success in Baghdad has forced these terrorists out of those areas and into that battle space," he said. "And they take their preferred method of killing people with them whenever they are pushed into other areas of Iraq."
Despite progress in countering the IED threat, Simmons said, the threat continues. "The IED has been and remains the enemy's primary weapon of choice against coalition, Iraqi forces and Iraqi civilians," he said. "Multinational Corps Iraq views this threat as extremely serious."
An investigation is continuing into an attack yesterday on a Stryker vehicle operating just outside the International Zone in Baghdad, Simmons said. Officials believe several explosively formed penetrators, the most deadly form of IED, were used in the attack, Simmons said.