Reporters on the Job

Dodging IEDs: As a journalist, missing the action is always preferable to missing in action.

Correspondent Charles Levinson was supposed to go out on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, with US troops earlier this week. "The battalion executive officer invited me to go to a meeting with local Iraqi government officials. It's part of their civil affairs outreach to ensure calm and build support."

But instead of leaving the base at 9 a.m., Charles was stuck writing and then filing his story to editors in Boston. A few hours later, when he dropped by the battalion headquarters, the officers told him that he'd missed two IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attacks on the patrol.

"They were ribbing me that I missed the opportunity to qualify for a combat infantry patch - which is what the troops get when they see action," says Charles.

No one was injured in the attacks. The first IED knocked out a tire in one vehicle and the second, on a sidewalk, went off without doing any damage, he says.

The eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle weighs 19 tons, has a top speed of more than 60 m.p.h. and carries up to nine soldiers.

"It's much more heavily armored - and a lot more expensive - than a Humvee. It's very solid. My sense is that the Stryker's get hit by IEDs all the time, but rarely suffer casualties. One guy told me that his Stryker has been hit four times without injuries," says Charles.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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