September 15, 2005
One of the strangest, and most useful, bombs employed in Iraq has been the concrete filled smart bomb (laser guided or JDAM). Why deliver a 500 pound bomb filled with concrete instead of explosives? You do that if you want to do some damage, but not a lot. Concrete JDAMs were first used in the 1990s to destroy anti-aircraft guns, radars and missiles that Saddam Hussein placed in residential areas. He believed that the Americans would not attack these weapons, for fear of hurting nearby civilians. But it turned out that a laser, or satellite (JDAM) guided concrete smart bomb could take out the air-defense weapons without hurting nearby civilians. The concrete bombs come in various sizes (500, 1,000 and 2,000 pounds), but the new 500 pound JDAM has become a favorite when a concrete version is required. Recently, for example, two small bridges near the Syrian border were seen being used by terrorists to bring in people and weapons. There was no need to completely destroy the bridges (which might take months, or longer, to replace), because the terrorists were slowly being chased from the area. But a concrete bomb on each bridge damaged the structures enough so that they could not be used, but not so much that they could not be repaired in a week or two. Concrete bombs are still used against terrorist targets in residential areas, where the bomb can reach the terrorists before police or ground troops can. Its all a case of a seemingly off-the-wall weapon idea being, not a joke, but actually quite useful.