Pentagon: Roadside bombings, deaths fall

June 23, 2008 at 7:48 AM

BAGHDAD, June 23 (UPI) -- Roadside bombings and U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq are down by nearly 90 percent this year over last, U.S. Department of Defense records indicate.

Eleven U.S. troops died in May from roadside bomb explosions, compared with 92 similar deaths in May 2007, USA Today reported Monday.

Military leaders give several reasons for the reductions, including the nearly 7,000 heavily armored mine resistant ambush protected vehicles shipped to Iraq during the last year.

"They've taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and Marines in unarmored Humvees," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman U.S. Navy Adm. Michael Mullen said recently .

The Pentagon also credits improved surveillance and greater Iraqi assistance from local forces known as the Sons of Iraq for providing on-the-ground intelligence to U.S. forces looking for improvised explosive devices.

However, Iraqi insurgents are changing their tactics, the Pentagon said. Their latest devices are fake curbs filled with ball bearings and explosives that are nearly identical to concrete rubble, USA Today said. Insurgents are also using pressure-detonated roadside bombs.

"The whole issue of IEDs -- vehicle-borne, suicide, you name it -- is going to be the weapon of choice and I think it's going to be around a long, long time," Mullen said.

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