Sunday, November 22, 2009

Analyzing Warstuff

Where do you go if you're an American general, say, or a British one, and your troops in Iraq or Afghanistan are encountering a new type of homemade but lethal weapon, and you need some advice on what it's made from so as the better to defend yourself?

To Israel, of course. The Israelis have this unit, run by a mad scientist, who collects bit of ordnance, learns everything possible about it, and makes useful recommendations.
Recently, the American military began studying the IDF experience. "They never imagined IEDs like that. They're still back in the 1980s, fighting the Soviets. They're making this huge review and came to us to learn everything about the materials and how to take the things apart," says Tuval.

Delegates from other armies fighting in Afghanistan, including the British, Italians and Germans, have also visited the lab to study the threats ahead. British experts, this time from Scotland Yard, also visited the lab in 2005 to learn the types of explosives used in the 2005 London bombings, which were different from bombs they knew from the IRA.

So far, so not surprising. The part I found of special interest, however, was this one:
In other cases, the lab is requested to produce results in real time. During Operation Cast Lead the lab deduced from shrapnel embedded in a paratroop officer's helmet that he was not injured by an IED but by a sniper's bullet, thus making the army aware a sniper was operating in that area.

Interesting, isn't it? The troops in the field and their commanders weren't sure what was going on, so the forensic fellows back near Tel Aviv figured out there must be a Palestinian sniper hidden nearby. Just the kind of thing the foreign observers and bearers of human rights in vain always know better about than the professionals who are there at the time.

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