ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ – The Humvee slammed to a halt on the desert road between Fallujah and the town of Al Farris. I peered around the driver’s head from the back seat and tried to figure out what was happening.
“Why are we stopping?” I said.
“IED,” Sergeant Guerrero said.
I swallowed and took the lens cap off my camera.
“Where?” I said.
All five Humvees in our convoy had stopped and pulled to the side of the road. None had been hit.
“We think there’s one buried off the road around here.”
Two soldiers, including Sergeant Guerrero, stepped out of the vehicle. “Can I get out, too?” I said. I had no idea how long we would stop or if they would even let me out of the truck.
“Sure,” Sergeant Guerrero said. “You can get out.”
All IED’s are dangerous no matter how much body armor you’re wearing if you’re standing anywhere nearby when they explode. Some create small explosions that are merely intended to harass convoys. Others are formidable anti-tank mines. A smaller number create explosions as big as air strikes and will absolutely destroy you if you’re not inside a heavily armored vehicle. The term IED, short for improvised explosive device, is used to describe just about any explosive that isn’t discharged from a weapon.
I slowly pushed open the vault-thick up-armored door and stepped out into the desolate countryside of Al Anbar. An Iraqi Police truck was parked in the desert a few hundred feet to our right. I hoped there wasn’t an IED trigger man lurking somewhere who was waiting for all of us to expose ourselves.