The war in Afghanistan is getting deadlier for both coalition troops and Afghan forces, reports James Dao in the New York Times, mostly because of an increase in homemade bomb attacks—465 in May alone. The IEDs—improvised explosive devices—are getting more sophisticated as well as more common, and are spread through the country via a complex network of bombmakers and distributors. The Pentagon is sending thousands of robots, dogs, and IED-resistant vehicles—but also targeting the networks themselves.
The IED networks, overseen by the Taliban, involve logistical experts, financiers, weaponry designers and, at the bottom of the ladder, villagers or farmers paid a pittance to plant the explosives. The military is trying to use Afghan intelligence and forensic analysis to dismantle the networks, although success so far has been limited. "I’m not interested in the triggerman," says a lieutenant leading an anti-bomb effort. "He’s usually some poor schlep just trying to feed his family. It’s the networks we’re after."