Counter-Terrorism: The Ultimate Vehicle Bomb


November 25, 2014: In Iraq ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) Islamic terrorists have publicized the use of an M113 armored personnel carrier for suicide vehicle bombs. They released a video of one moving down a street towards an Iraqi Army checkpoint. The M113 then disappeared in a huge explosion, apparently from explosives inside the M113 detonating. The Iraqis apparently thought the M113 was one of their own and even if they knew better they would have needed an anti-tank weapon (a LAW or RPG would do) to stop it in time.

Over the last few years the U.S. has sold lots of used heavy weapons to Iraq at attractive prices. This has included 1,026 M113 armored personnel carriers, 140 M-1A1 tanks, 21 M88A1 armored recovery vehicles and 60 M1070 tank transporters (which can also carry supplies or other vehicles.)

In June 2014 the Iraq Army units in the northwest (around the city of Mosul) panicked and collapsed. As a result ISIL captured over a thousand Iraqi military vehicles, including armored ones. While the trucks and hummers were easy to put to work, the armored vehicles required some training to drive and even more skills to maintain. Actually driving M113s and M1s is not that difficult. You can train someone to drive one of these in a few hours (or less if you just want them to drive straight down a road and then explode.) These vehicles have become frequent targets for American air attacks since August.

The M113 has been in use for a long time and despite its “obsolete” design is still widely used. In 1960 the United States began building a boxy armored personnel vehicle called the M113. Over 80,000 have been built since then, and more than fifty nations have used them. There have been 40 variants of the 13-15 ton M113, for everything from air defense, command, carrying cargo, and so on. Now add to that list yet another use. 


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