Joint IED Defeat Organization – Defeated by the IED

The Joint IED Defeat Organization, the large, unwieldy herd of combat-hardened cats and other MRAP hangers-on, seems to have achieved functional obsolescence.

Defense Secretary (and Occasional Superhero) Robert Gates has announced he is forming a senior-level task force “to streamline the efforts of military services and agencies to find and destroy roadside bombs.”

Good-bye JIEDDO?

We find this fascinating since the JIEDDO was just created in 2006. The organization had been headed by an Army three-star. Despite his Nov. 13 retirement, his successor, Army Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, has not yet received Senate Confirmation. JIEDDO is staffed by hundreds. The organization is staffed by more than 400 members plus another 1,300 “working JIEDDO initiatives.” The fiscal 2008 budget was a staggering $4.1 billion, though the requested cash for 2010 is just $1.5 billion.

Conversations last year with then-JIEDDO director Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz (The Silver Fox) and others showed a hint of frustration at not being able to move more quickly. It was clear everyone understood the IED would never be defeated, but, to be most effective …

efforts had to target the networks trafficking those IEDs.

Enter the Government Accountability Office. Its most recent inquiry into counter IED efforts did not bode well for JIEDDO. Before JIEDDO was established, “no single entity was responsible for coordinating DOD’s counter improvised explosive device efforts.” According to the GAO, “JIEDDO was established to coordinate and focus all counter-IED efforts, including ongoing research and development, throughout DOD.” It was also tasked with leading the effort in support of the combatant commanders.

Without getting into the 44-page report, the GAO states:

“JIEDDO faces difficulties with transitioning Joint IED defeat initiatives to the military services, in part because JIEDDO and the services have difficulty resolving the gap between JIEDDO’s transition timeline and DOD’s base budget cycle.”
If accurate, this is a crippling situation.

Enter Superhero Gates. His new group of WunderKids (and a couple of old goats?) is tasked with correcting JIEDDO’s problems and more. This group is “to break down the stove pipes” that keep various anti-bomb groups scattered across the military services and agencies from working together. He also wants the new group to ‘get the troops what they need.’” Is Gates sounding the death knell of the JIEDDO? Will it be placed under new management? Have billions been squandered?

This may be an act of desperation and possibly political placation by Gates, though a smaller organization may be able to accomplish more than behemoth JIEDDO. Can a new entity work to defeat the network? (They say “attack.” We say defeat!) Could JIEDDO? Can anyone but the guys on the ground?


The JIEDDO Org Chart. Did this frustrate Gates?

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