When British troops were on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan, we faced many enemies, from jihadis to press-ganged civilians. But for me, the most terrifying ones lay buried. Bullets usually miss. Improvised explosive devices – IEDs — don’t. They are frighteningly simple. Old munitions wired together or plastic bottles packed with fertiliser and ball-bearings could destroy a vehicle and kill its passengers.
During my four years in Afghanistan I saw IEDs evolve: first came remote triggers, then pressure plates and then low-metal-content devices. Curiously, IEDs evolved in a similar way in Iraq. This should be no surprise, since the groups trying to kill British troops shared one common resource: Iranian support.