Learning on the Job: Defusing IEDs in Iraq

In Iraq, improvised explosive devices pose a constant threat to security forces. The makeshift bombs are stashed on the sides of roads, buried in trash or hidden just about anywhere. The U.S. military has sought to train Iraqi security forces to handle them on their own.

But things don't always go as planned.

U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Lord hadn't driven his Humvee more than 50 yards out of Forward Operating Base Warrior when he came upon Iraqi police standing in the middle of the road. An IED had been spotted up ahead, they told the Americans.

In most cases, that means a U.S. explosives ordnance team comes in to defuse the bomb. But in this case, an Iraqi explosives team is on the case.

The Iraqi police start shooting at the potential bomb, hoping to set it off. But to no avail. The convoy continues to sit and wait. An hour passes. As Sgt. Lord watches, the Iraqi police move closer to the suspected bomb.

The first IED turns out to be a fake. To the surprise of the American soldiers, this emboldens the Iraqi police, who are now focusing on the second suspected bomb.

"Oh, he kicked it," says an American soldier watching.

"The second one must have been safe," Lord says, "because they went over to it, kicked it over, and then threw it across the road."

An hour and a half after first stopping, the convoy moves on.

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