Newswise — Death by IED: as of the end of June 2008, thousands of Iraqis, Afghanis, and coalition military people have been killed by the devices. The U.S. military has responded with the most intensive program of technology development in at least a decade. It has spent US $12.4 billion over the past three years on counter-IED equipment, technology R&D, training, and other measures through the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and its predecessors.

JIEDDO offers a holistic approach, but there is no "silver bullet" technology that will solve the IED problem. The challenge is complex, and technology is only part of the solution. Most IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan are found today when a soldier, peering through the thick Lexan window of a massively armored truck, notices something amiss.

In the September issue of IEEE Spectrum, Executive Editor Glenn Zorpette, who was embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq earlier this year, describes how IEDs work and how they can be disabled or destroyed. His article, part one of a two-part report, also covers the personnel, hardware, and organizations involved in neutralizing the devices.

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