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IEDs haunt U.S. forces in Afghanistan

  |   Oct. 30, 2009 at 12:58 PM
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department expects tough challenges in Afghanistan as it struggles to address the threats from improvised explosives devices, officials said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is developing a counter-IED strategy for Afghanistan as American forces suffered heavy losses from the weapons in October, said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

"Secretary Gates is working to ensure that this department continues to do everything possible to provide our men and women in uniform with the very best protection and capabilities to defeat the growing IED threat," the spokesman told Pentagon reporters.

The Defense Department ordered an extra 3,000 explosive ordnance teams dispatched to Afghanistan as well as another 6,600 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to help counter the threat.

Morrell, however, said despite the protective measures against the threat from IEDs, many challenges remain.

"Even with all these additional counter-IED resources, there will no doubt be many difficult and dangerous days ahead for our forces," he said.

The Pentagon on Thursday announced the deaths of seven soldiers who died Oct. 27 when their vehicle encountered an IED in the Arghandab Valley of southern Afghanistan.

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