An IED is a device placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. It may incorporate military stores, but is normally devised from nonmilitary components.
An IED typically consists of an explosive charge, possibly a booster charge, a detonator and a mechanism either mechanical or electronic, known as the initiation system.
Unconventional warfare or terrorist activities in a theater of operations can include the extensive use of IEDs. These IEDs are mostly conventional high-explosive charges, also known as homemade bombs. However, there is the threat that a CB agent or even nuclear material can be included to add to the destructive power and psychological effect of the device.
Usually, IEDs are of crude design. However, terrorist groups have been known to produce sophisticated devices. Since these devices are nonstandard, there are no specific guidelines for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel to use to positively identify or categorize them. Highly sophisticated IEDs have been constructed from arming devices scavenged from conventional munitions or from easily purchased electronic components. The degree of sophistication depends on the ingenuity of the designer and the tools and materials available. Today’s IEDs are extremely diverse and may contain any type of firing device or initiator, plus various commercial, military, or contrived chemical or explosive fillers.
EOD personnel are trained in the render safe and disposal of IEDs. The addition of NBC material into an IED will require additional support as stated in the other situations above. As with other missions, the EOD CP provides the area commander with an assessment of the situation and of support needed to complete the mission.