Improvised Explosive Devices: Background information when reading The Long Walk

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The Long Walk

A Story of War and the Life That Follows

By Brian Castner

The Long Walk

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Beyond the Book:
Improvised Explosive Devices

An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is an inexpensive, low-tech weapon designed to cause death or injury to enemy forces. The British Army was the first to call such homemade bombs IEDs in the 1970s, referring to the fertilizer and Semtex explosives used by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Although IEDs have become a common term in recent years, improvised explosives are not a new concept: Greek historians record the use of fire ships to ram and burn the enemy in 415 BCE and the deployment of incendiary war pigs against war elephants in 266 BCE. In more recent history, jury-rigged bombs and mines were employed in the United States' Civil War and the Resistance across occupied Europe made good use of them during World War II. A relatively new concept, though, dating back to the second half of the 20th century, is the reality that a technologically inferior force can, through the use of IEDs, effectively counter a force equiped with superior technology.

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