IED Network winning in battle against IEDs?

As remains of 18 slain servicemembers arrived in the early hours at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 29, Army Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz may have still been awake preparing for testimony before the House Armed Service Committee. The topic for the director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization – IEDs.

Brutal timing.

The IED lives and continues to multiply. It will kill anyone with whom it may come in contact, including those with the misfortune to set the trap.

Despite billions spent to fight the IED, Metz has long acknowledged they will never really defeat the menace. But his organization and others may be falling far short of any goal. Case in point: the IED situation in Afghanistan has exploded in favor of the partisans. Statistics provided by JIEDDO show IED incidents that numbered as few as nine in Feb 2004, skyrocketing during 2008 and 2009. Total IED incidents in Afghanistan hit 1,036 in August of this year, though only 134 were deemed “effective.”

Most acknowledge the fight is lost once the IED is in place. The plan has been to nab middle management and higher. Does this number of 1,036 suggest a change in reporting procedures? We think it points to a failure to reach up into the network. Maybe even identify the network. It seems from the numbers Taliban and al Qaeda management have been able to induce more people to plant IEDs. Their gain. Our loss.

More effective intelligence may be in order. But even if the VPs and CEOs of these networks are neutralized, aren’t there more to take up their positions?

How much is a life worth? What is the increased risk without multibillion dollar baby JIEDDO? Eight of the servicemembers who arrived at Dover this morning were victims of some bomb or another. How many survived? We never really can know all those saved by JIEDDO’s efforts and the wares it puts in the hands of the IED hunters on the ground.

MOAA did a comprehensive article on the IED and JIEDDO, a Defense Department entity based in Arlington, Va. Metz is set to retire Nov. 13 after 38 years’ service. No replacement has been named as of this writing.

If JIEDDO and others cannot make a dent in the network, what is the next step?

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