By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 6, 2007 - Improvised-explosive-device, mortar and rocket attacks have declined by 50 percent since the height of the troop surge in April, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman said today. Related to this dramatic decrease is a rise in the number of weapons caches uncovered by coalition forces, Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith told reporters during a news conference in Baghdad.
"In April, when the majority of the surge forces had arrived in Iraq, the number of caches found spiked considerably, and in the ensuing months we've seen a steady increase," Smith said of the 20,000 troop increase in Iraq.
A cache is a source of supplies, including weapons, munitions IEDs or its components that are concealed and used in insurgency operations. "Simply put, it's the fuel that drives the insurgency that has led to the death and destruction witnessed here in Iraq for the past several years," he said.
In Iraq's western province of Anbar this year, security forces have discovered 2,525 caches, more than doubling last year's figure, making it the highest concentration of caches found anywhere in the country, Smith said. Diyala province, a direct beneficiary of the troop surge, has seen a dramatic four-fold increase of caches found and cleared over last year, from 165 to 529, he added.
"The surge has allowed our forces an opportunity to develop relationships with local citizens," Smith said. "Gaining their trust and confidence, these local citizens have contributed greatly to the increase in caches found, IEDs cleared, and insurgents detained."
An increase in the effectiveness of Iraq's security forces is another reason Smith offered for the climbing number of caches found. He cited stockpiles that Iraqi forces discovered recently in Balad, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Iskandariyah, Baqubah and Taji.
"Their efforts have no doubt helped lead to the decrease in IED explosions we are seeing across Iraq," he said.
Smith noted that troops recently discovered large numbers of explosively formed penetrators, a highly lethal version of IEDs.
Last month, coalition forces found a cache of weapons in Sada village that included one of the largest EFP stockpiles discovered to date, Smith said. The cache contained 120 fully-assembled EFPs, and scores of components used to fashion the homemade deadly charges, including some 150 copper discs, 600 pounds of C4 explosives, 100 mortar round and 30 107 mm rockets.
In Husseiniyah last week, an Iraqi citizen led coalition forces to a building being used by insurgents as an EFP factory, where troops found roughly 10 fully-prepared projectiles of various sizes, including a 12-inch EFP -- among the largest found in Iraq. Coalition forces also seized some 90 copper plates, more than 200 pounds of C4 and other explosive-making materials including TNT, Smith said.
"Coalition forces will continue to work with our Iraqi partners as we move to sustainable security, a self-sustaining economy, and viable local, regional and national governance," he said.