I Love IEDs …

“I love IEDs, so put another round in the front gun, baby. I love IEDs so don’t waste time and run from me.”

We understand this might not seem humorous by home-front standards, though it could get a laugh in the hot zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Regardless of where you are, the photo shows a few soldiers who have taken a unique approach to the improvised explosive device (IED). This master of mirth, the perpetrator of this in your face “Bring it on. Show us what you got!” tactic is the first lieutenant smiling off to the left. That’s his HUMVEE, and he cut and pasted the bumper sticker together. Sort of a 21st century “Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead.” These boys and their bumper sticker did see some action. More on that in a bit.

Back in Washington. D.C., at “Defeat the IED” central, the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), formally was established in early 2006, more than one year after this fall 2004 photo was taken in remote Paktika Province in Afghanistan. JIEDDO’s mission is to attack the network, defeat the device (the IED), and train the force. This is serious business — super serious, even — and received a 2008 budget of a $4.3 billion. With all that money, why not take a few of those dollars and have some of these babies made — in English and Farsi and a bunch of other languages? Why not provoke the populace with the same dreaded set of Western values that this “enemy” purports to destroy?

Sensitivities aside, we think our boys on the Afghan frontier might have had a winning combo. While the tactical significance here is a stretch, our guess is it relieved some tension and made a few boys and girls laugh. It probably also solidified trust and confidence in this young leader. The photo was taken by his boss, a Marine and the provincial reconstruction team commander at the time. Bravado? Hardly. This Iowa National Guard lieutenant put his bravery where his bumper sticker is and went on to receive the Silver Star for actions during a deadly ambush of the unit. Yes, the bumper sticker was there in the ravine that day along with a bunch of hostiles, though no IEDs were reported.

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