Tags: New | Deadly | Weapon | iraq

New Deadly Weapon Stalks U.S. Troops in Iraq

Thursday, 10 Jul 2008 12:45 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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U.S. fighting forces have been ducking “RPGs,” or Rocket Propelled Grenades, for years in Iraq, now they face an even deadlier weapon -- “IRAMs,” or Improvised Rocket Assisted Munitions, fired by remote control from the backs of hit-and-run trucks.

The low-tech devices now favored by suspected Shiite militiamen use powerful 6.7-inch rockets to lob propane tanks jammed with hundreds of pounds of high explosives at Coalition targets, according to the Washington Post.

The Post report concludes that the IRAMs are potentially more dangerous and deadly than roadside bombs or conventional mortars and rockets -- a theory backed by the fact that the big aerial weapons have killed at least 21 people this year, including three U.S. troopers.

“IRAM attacks could be very tragic against us,” Col. William B. Hickman, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, which operates in northwestern Baghdad, told the Post. “We take them very seriously.”

Hickman’s outfit and other units threatened by the latest scourge have increased patrols around outposts, hardened buildings and offered cash for information about insurgents using the weapon, the Post reported.

According to U.S. military officials, the latest reported IRAM attack occurred Tuesday at a joint U.S. – Iraq base in northeastern Baghdad.

The enemy’s IRAMs are the latest example of the insurgents’ talent to use commonly available materials and low-tech to defeat U.S. security measures costing billions of dollars.

Of particular note is the fact that propane tanks are everywhere in Iraq, where the gas is used by most of the population for household cooking.

Also of concern to the military authorities is that evidence points to Iran having a hand in the weapons, which have been dubbed “flying IEDs.” (The conventional Improvised Explosive Device is buried in the ground and exploded when a Coalition convoy passes.)

According to the Post report, U.S. military officials say they have found Iranian-made rockets at some of the blast sites.

In an example of the destructive might of the devices, on June 4 in eastern Baghdad, U.S. soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Callahan responded to a truck transported cluster of IRAMs that killed 18 Iraqis, wounded 29 and damaged 15 buildings.

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