Protecting Our Troops from IEDs

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for working with me on this amendment, and I in particular want to thank you for all of your diligence in making sure that we have the best equipment and that the Pentagon is doing everything else possible to interdict and to defend against these improvised explosive devices.

We have all been to the funerals of our constituents that were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of them have been lost through improvised explosive devices. I think it is the number one cause of American deaths in Iraq, and I think three out of the four families that I have gotten to know that have lost loved ones in Iraq were killed by IEDs. They have been responsible for 38 percent of all U.S. deaths in Iraq, including those from non-hostile causes, for every month since May of 2005. Through Sunday, IEDs caused 790 American deaths in Iraq, representing a third of all U.S. fatalities since the start of the war.

Clearly, the Iraqi insurgents have learned to adapt to U.S. defensive measures by using bigger, more sophisticated and better concealed bombs. In the first few months of the insurgency, IEDs were often little more than crude pipe bombs that used old-fashioned wire detonators. Now they are sometimes made with multiple artillery shells, Iranian explosives, and rocket propellant. Gone are the days of wire detonators that were easy to spot. IEDs are now detonated by cell phones or a garage door opener and other devices. They range in size from massive explosives capable of destroying 5-ton vehicles to precision-shaped charges that tear through armored vehicles.

IEDs have also become, unfortunately, a greater problem in Afghanistan where, according to analysts, Taliban and al Qaeda forces have been studying the lessons learned by the insurgents in Iraq. Over the past several months, American and NATO forces have been the victim of roadside bombs that previously we had just seen in Iraq.

So, Mr. Chairman, to the chairman of the committee and the ranking member, I very much look forward to working with you on this issue. I appreciate your willingness to work on this amendment.