20 March 2015

JIEDDO is Shuttering Its Doors

Adieu JIEDDO...

Top defense officials compared the scope of Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb in World War II. They drew the parallel to convey the broad nature of the threat and the time and money it would take to address it, including attacking the insurgent networks that build IEDs and training troops to deal with them better.

Nine years after JIEDDO's creation, however, it will soon fade into the Pentagon's bureaucracy. One reading of this, as Military Times noted last week, is that JIEDDO's main functions will become permanent. But it also means, as Military.com highlighted, that JIEDDO itself will be diminished, with a smaller budget, a new name and fewer employees in a combat support organization that falls under Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The details are still being worked out, but it is effectively the end of JIEDDO as we know it.

The organization's legacy is mixed. On one hand, JIEDDO's creation meant that there was a Defense Department organization that could rapidly sort through and acquire technology to help troops find IEDs on the battlefield. Examples include the Thor, a backpack-like radio that jammed radio-controlled IEDs, and the variety of metal detectors that U.S. troops used to search for bombs. Equipment like that was considered key, especially as insurgents constantly adopted new techniques to make the bombs hard to find.

On the other hand, JIEDDO grew to become a behemoth with at least 2,000 employees, a multi-billion dollar budget that wasn't closely scrutinized by outside organizations. For example, a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Organization, the investigative arm of Congress, noted the organization had not yet developed a comprehensive counter-IED strategy and that other Defense Department organizations, independent of JIEDDO, were still developing equipment to find roadside bombs.

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