On January 7, someone strolled into a supply room at Camp Eggers, a coalition base near the U.S. embassy in downtown Kabul, pocketed two sets of car keys and walked out undetected. Sometime over the next 24 hours, the thieves drove away with two black-painted, armoured Toyota Land Cruisers belonging to the US Army's 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, a unit that escorts coalition personnel around Kabul.
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Most improvised bombs used by insurgents are decidedly low-tech, jury-rigged affairs. A couple of command wires, some fertiliser chemicals and wooden pressure plates in Afghanistan; in Iraq, leftover mines or plastic explosives often detonated remotely by mobile phone. But the Pentagon's bomb squad sees "ever more sophisticated" bombs on the way.
Not all of the US military's simulators are designed for pilots. At the Camp Atterbury Joint manoeuvre Training centre combatants can now experience what it's like when an improvised explosive device goes off, and how to deal with the aftermath.
I almost crash into a truck, at first. I can turn on a dime and accelerate like a tiny nitrous-oxide-fueled bat out of hell — even though I'm holding a 10-pound pipe bomb, 30 per cent of my body weight. I don't know what I'm doing, really. But by the time I get to the truck to plant the bomb, it's easy. I know exactly what to do. Boom.