Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are being used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan with deadly effect. They are placed in everything from animal carcasses and soft-drink cans to utility poles.
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In one U.S. Humvee hit by an IED, the driver was penetrated by molten steel, killing him instantly. On exiting, the steel blew off the buttocks of the soldier sitting in the gun turret and blasted shards into another combatant’s head and chest.
Though gravely wounded, the third man survived.
Frustrated and helpless, soldiers long for old-fashioned battles: “If I have to die, let me die in a stand-up fight,” said one.
I spoke with Michael Stephenson, author of “The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle,” on the following topics:
1. Weapon Technology
2. Heroic Mythology
3. Trench Warfare
4. Exhilaration in Battle
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(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)
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