The military has developed technology that uses a high-tech beam to detonate hidden IEDs.
"This is an offensive capability that will change the face of this war," said Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command that looks to transform military capabilities. Mattis, a supporter of the technology, acknowledged that civilians could be killed if the weapon is activated over widespread areas. But ultimately the technology would save lives, he said. "A lot more innocent people are going to die if we don't do it," he said.
The Pentagon will not release details of the highly classified technology, which bypasses the triggering device of an IED and detonates its explosive. The beam could trigger IEDs being built or transported by insurgents.
The technology was used in Iraq in 2005 and 2008, positioned mainly at checkpoints, said Paul Gido, an official at the Office of Naval Research, which carried out work on the device. The weapon blew up IEDs hidden by insurgents, but it is large and requires a tractor-trailer-size vehicle to move it, he said.