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IED explosion in Afghanistan

The U.S. Army is moving forward with a plan to order thousands of radio-frequency-jammer devices to foil improvised explosive devices, even though terrorists’ latest attacks in the Afghanistan war have used mechanical, rather than radio, detonators, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The jammers likely will cause problems with remotely operated aerial drones, communications systems and other radio-based functions. They also have a limited potential, since they must be set to operate within the right frequency, experts say.

Nevertheless, the decision has been made to go ahead and increase the number and use of RF jammers against radio-controlled explosive detonators from remote locations. The detonators include mobile phones, satellite phones and long-range cordless phones.

As G2B reported last month, the Pentagon has become concerned over the inability to detect IEDs blamed for increasing American fatalities in Afghanistan. Sources say it is the primary concern of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The RF jammers operate by transmitting a high-power signal on the same frequency as the targeted device. The signal collides with signals sent to and from the targeted device, rendering it useless.

RF jammers can cover considerable distances and a wide range of signal frequencies. Not only are the jammers effective against various phones but also other potential electronic detonators, including receivers for car alarms, garage-door openers and doorbells.

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A recent Pentagon report, however, recognized that the Afghan Taliban is beginning to use IEDs that can avoid detection which are detonated by long cords rather than by electronic means.

Yet, the Army is proceeding to increase significantly the number of electronic jammers.

The decision outlines a dilemma: Either increase jammers and minimize electronically detonated IEDs, interfering with unmanned aerial vehicles and long-range communications at the same time. Or, run greater risks against such IEDs but minimize jamming of UAVs and long-range communications.

The RF jammers can affect a wide range of frequencies, thereby jamming various unintended signals from electronic devices and creating what defense experts call “signal pollution.”

In addition, long-range-communications systems generally operate on similar frequencies as the devices being jammed. This would include not only communications systems used by the U.S. and its allies but also the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

According to experts, U.S. troops experienced jamming in Iraq in 2006 when the Warlock RF jamming system had a detrimental effect on their communications systems and UAVs. The Warlock RF jammer also is being used in Afghanistan.

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