Army discovered advanced RPGs in Afghanistan


US ARMY TIMES

Stash of advanced RPGs found in Afghanistan

By Tom Vanden Brook – USA TODAY
Posted : Monday Aug 18, 2008 21:53:51 EDT

WASHINGTON — U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan have discovered a rare cache of sophisticated weapons designed to kill troops with a lethal spray of ball bearings, according to a report confirmed by military officials.

Troops uncovered 89 anti-personnel rocket-propelled grenades after their patrol was fired on by insurgents in late June, according to the Triton Report. The Pentagon uses the report, produced by the British firm HMS, for information on global terrorist attacks.

The report notes that Shiite insurgents in Iraq have been photographed carrying similar weapons. They are known as Type 69 airburst, anti-personnel rockets. The rockets are designed to hit the ground near troops, bounce 6 feet and explode, killing those within 15 yards with a shower of 800 ball bearings.

In Afghanistan, the weapons were seized in Khost province, which borders Pakistan. Insurgents plan and launch attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The weapons are rarely found in Afghanistan, said Army Capt. Christian Patterson, a military spokesman there. Their presence, he said, has not changed enemy tactics or how U.S. and Afghan forces pursue insurgents. He said he could not speculate about who supplied the weapons to insurgents.

Charles McMinn, deputy research manager for HMS, said the source of the weapons is unclear. They have been found in Iraq, which bought thousands of them under Saddam Hussein, he said. There is no evidence the rockets in Afghanistan came from Iraq, he said.

Their presence in Afghanistan indicates that the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic movement that ruled there until 2001, can get its hands on increasingly sophisticated weaponry. The rockets are well-suited to combat in open terrain, McMinn said.

“It demonstrates the Taliban have the logistical capability to secure the right weapons for the environment,” McMinn said.

Dakota Wood, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said Iran has been linked to supplying insurgents in Iraq with advanced weaponry, including armor-piercing roadside bombs. There are also groups in Pakistan capable of supplying weapons to insurgents. U.S. forces also collected 61 anti-tank weapons and 25 mortars from the cache.

The anti-personnel weapons could be a reaction to improved tactics and armor used by U.S. troops, Wood said. The Pentagon has been sending hundreds of new armored vehicles to Afghanistan to better protect troops there.

”The enemy responds with their own improved tactics and better munitions,” Wood said.

The ultimate solution, he said, is to gather better intelligence on insurgents, killing or capturing them and improving the quality of local security forces.

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