Monday, March 05, 2007

Perspective: Saddam ammunition caches deadly source for insurgents

WASHINGTON — Four years after the Iraq war began, the country remains awash in Saddam-era munitions that provide key ingredients for homemade bombs used against U.S. troops, according to administration documents and military officials.

More than $1 billion has been spent to clear about 15,000 sites of the unsecured weapons. To clear the remaining 3,391 sites, the Pentagon says it needs part of a $1.2 billion request for items to protect U.S. troops in Iraq.

Improvised explosive devices that use the munitions have killed or wounded thousands of U.S. troops. Defense Secretary Robert Gates estimates that 70% of U.S. casualties in Iraq stem from IEDs.

"Insurgents use munitions from stolen caches to construct IEDs," according to the Pentagon's budget request released last month.

Hundreds of buildings, in-ground bunkers, warehouses and buried caches also contain uncleared ammunition, the Pentagon budget request shows.

Read the rest at USA Today