The Cable

Trump Says IED Blasts Send Troops in Armored Vehicles ‘For a Little Ride’

Thousands of U.S. troops, many of them riding in armored vehicles, have been killed by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - FEBRUARY 1 : Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the U.S. Cellular Convention Center February1, 2016 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Trump who is seeking the nomination for the Republican Party attends his final campaign rally ahead of tonight's Iowa Caucus. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - FEBRUARY 1 : Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the U.S. Cellular Convention Center February1, 2016 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Trump who is seeking the nomination for the Republican Party attends his final campaign rally ahead of tonight's Iowa Caucus. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

At an 11th-hour pre-caucus campaign event Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said that U.S. troops riding in armored vehicles “go for a little ride” when they hit roadside improvised explosive devices.

This latest attestation came during an event where the billionaire real-estate mogul sought to present himself as a benefactor of soldiers and veterans. Trump skipped last Thursday’s Republican debate, due to a feud with Fox New anchor Megyn Kelly, to host a benefit for war veterans.

Over the course of 12 years, the United States gave over 3,000 humvees to Iraqi forces. The Islamic State captured 2,300 in the battle for Mosul. In Cedar Rapids, Trump said troops in the sort of vehicles that were captured “go for a little ride upward, and they come down” after hitting IEDs. “Armor plated, top, bottom, all over, if a bomb goes off our wounded warriors — instead of losing their legs, their arms, worse, they’re okay,” he said.

Thousands of U.S. troops, many of them riding in armored vehicles, have been killed by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of 2013, IEDs were the top killer of U.S. troops. The Pentagon has spent billions of dollars on technology to counter improvised explosives. Armor cannot always stop bombs, and militants adapt and improve their devices as the U.S. issues new protections. Even when the most advanced armor completely blocks heat and shrapnel, shock waves can still damage organs, including the brain, rending horrific injuries.

In 2006, ABC anchor Bob Woodruff suffered debilitating injuries when a bomb struck the Iraqi armored vehicle he was in. The blast left him with permanent brain damage, diverting his career and nearly ending his life.

A Defense Department spokesman was not immediately able to say how many U.S. service members have died in IED attacks against armored vehicles Afghanistan and Iraq. As of 2013, some 2,483 such deaths were IED-related.

Observers on Twitter were swift to lambaste Trump for his comments, although he is not alone among GOP candidates in making a series of bizarre defense-related remarks, seemingly in hopes of outdoing one another in cavalier bravado. Ted Cruz has issued calls to “carpet-bomb ISIS.” Ben Carson believes that destroying ISIS-occupied cities would be “merciful.” And earlier in the campaign, Trump said the U.S. should “take out” the families of Islamic militants — war crime or no.

Photo credit: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Benjamin Soloway is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. @bsoloway

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