Shift in IED Tactics Announced (Afghan IED Networks Take Notes)

It has recently been reported U.S. forces in Afghanistan have said they are moving away from the high tech approach to stopping the improvised explosive device. They are going back to the tried and true method – observation. To be exact, they will observe detect, identify and neutralize. It has an acronym— ODIN. Task Force ODIN.

ODIN has been around for several years in its unclassified form.

Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Rep. Duncan Hunter made the “announcement.” The reserve Marine seems to take some credit for getting more surveillance out there to combat the IED. But ODIN is nothing new. and beefing it up is business, not news. Queries show articles dating to 2007 and a MOAA Military Officer interview with now-retired Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, then head of Army Modernization, includes a broad discussion on ODIN.

The real story is the colossal, multibillion dollar failure of the Joint IED Defeat Organization and its service underlings. (A figure of $20 billion squandered was tossed out, but I think it may be closer to $10 billion.)

To its credit, JIEDDO has produced a number of vehicles and other means for those on the ground to hunt and destroy the IED before it destroys them. But as some of these behemoths move down the Afghan roads, they portray the U.S. forces for what they are to the Afghans— a self-serving invasion force. This is not exactly a winning proposition.

Despite Hunter’s praise for ODIN in one Afghan province, Americans who are following this topic may be reasonably sure the “enemy” will soon adjust. The basic ODIN could become yet another deadly failure. Are there other means to disrupt that network?

JIEDDO first emphasized the importance of stopping the network that created the IEDs. One service assures me advances in that area have been made, but I am dubious. Diffusing IEDs one at a time is ludicrous, and chasing off the poor schlep charged with implanting the device reaps little long term. Billions of years of conflict seem to have moved us no farther down the golden path of even disrupting the network.

What will the next few billion be spent on? Consulting with insurgents from other conflicts may not be a bad idea.

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