Anti-US attacks in Iraq 'more effective'

A senior American general has said anti-US violence in Iraq is becoming more effective.

    Roadside bombs are hindering the US military in Iraq

    Air Force Lieutenant General Lance

    Smith, deputy chief of US Central Command, said on Wednesday that a

    bold, innovative

    "insurgency" is becoming more effective against US supply lines

    in Iraq and explosive attacks have slowed military operations

    there.

    "They have had a growing understanding that where they can

    affect us is in the logistics flow.

    They have gotten more effective in using IEDs," said

    Smith, referring to improvised explosive devices hidden beside

    roads.

    "They may use doorbells today to blow these

    things up. They may use remote controls from toys tomorrow. And

    as we adapt, they adapt," he added.

    Smith said US forces in Iraq now totaled 148,000 troops

    - up from 138,000 at the start of this month and near the

    150,000 planned to protect national elections in January.

    But

    roadside explosives are hindering military operations and

    reconstruction nearly two years after the invasion.

    Killing of troops

    "They cause us to re-route vehicles. They cause us to have

    to employ tactics ... in avoiding them. And [they] cause us to have to

    convoy where maybe otherwise we would prefer to move in smaller

    numbers," Smith said. "So it is having an impact."

    US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the military have

    been sharply criticised by members of Congress and defence

    analysts for not anticipating the anti-US violence and its

    explosive attacks against convoys that have killed hundreds of

    US troops in the past year.

    "They [anti-US fighters] have 

    had a growing understanding that where they can

    affect us is in the logistics flow.

    They have gotten more effective in using IEDs [improvise explosive devices]"

    Air Force Lieutenant General Lance Smith,
    Deputy chief of US Central Command

    The commander of the US Air Force announced on Tuesday

    that the military in Iraq had begun using C-130 military cargo

    aircraft to ferry some food and equipment high above dangerous

    roadways in order to relieve pressure on ground convoys.

    On Capitol Hill, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, a Democrat on

    the Senate armed services and intelligence committees, said

    Congress should look into why an assessment of the situation in

    Iraq by the top CIA official was very different from

    opinions expressed by the US ambassador in Baghdad, John

    Negroponte.

    "When you hear dramatically different opinions and

    assessments by officials of our government about the situation

    in Iraq in a matter of minutes, that bears further

    investigation as to why," Bayh said after

     a visit to Iraq

    .

    The New York Times reported last week that the CIA's

    station chief in Baghdad had painted a bleak picture of Iraq in

    a classified cable and cautioned that security was likely to

    deteriorate unless the interim Iraqi government made significant

    progress in asserting its authority.

    Soldier complaints

    Bay said: "The ambassador obviously has to try and put a better face

    on things and with some reason, there are other things going on

    that do give some reason for hope."

    At another Pentagon briefing, officials said the army was

    spending $4.1 billion in an accelerated effort to provide

    protective armour for Humvee jeeps, trucks and other military

    vehicles in Iraq.

    Rumsfeld (L) has been criticised
    over military strategy in Iraq

    They said all such vehicles, including cargo

    trucks, were expected to have factory-installed or other armour

    kits by next June.

    The "insurgency is a very, very sophisticated enemy",

    Army Major General Stephen Speakes said. "A year ago, the amount of

    explosive that was being used in an IED was much less than it

    is now."

    His comments came after a US soldier complained to

    Rumsfeld in Kuwait last week that troops had to scrounge for

    scrap metal to protect their vehicles.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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