Pentagon may trim IED detector budget

Defense Department weighs program’s necessity, cost

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Air Force Col. Rene White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said there is no specific order from Mr. Gates to trim JIEDDO.

“I can say the secretary directed a comprehensive assessment of every aspect of how this department is organized and operated to inform the fiscal 2012 budget request and in order to create a more agile, flatter and efficient organization,” Col. White said.

“This review will conclude with actionable options for increasing the effectiveness and agility of the department. These components may find efficiencies in many areas of the budget to meet those targets, but they must focus on headquarters and administrative functions, support activities and other overhead,” she said.

JIEDDO’s Web pages tell of success stories — the deployment of detection systems and electronic jammers that have saved lives.

One system is a ground radar that detects mines. “This system successfully identified pressure-plate IEDs before they detonated,” the organization said.

It also distributed more than 5,000 units of an advanced Combined Vehicle Radio Jammer that is designed to block the enemy’s ability to detonate a bomb remotely via devices such as cell phones.

Another system is the Route Clearance Blower. Mounted on a vehicle’s front, it clears debris and makes it easier to identify camouflaged IEDS. JIEDDO also produced a hand-held explosives-detection device called Ahura.

JIEDDO has had mixed results with airborne surveillance attempting to detect changes on the ground that indicate an IED has been planted.

“We’ve had mixed reviews early on, but the technology is getting better,” Gen. Oates told reporters in March. “And I believe that the change-detection technology that we’re going to insert, in Afghanistan, will pay us some dividends.

“There’s, you know, always a search to try and find the one method that’s going to help us find all these IEDs. And what I’ve discovered over the years is that there is no one separate solution,” he said.

Still, Congress says JIEDDO lacks oversight.

Two House Armed Services Committee reports this year complained of “redundant activity” by JIEDDO on the one hand and by the military services on the other.

“Many efforts to address the IED threat at the service, joint and interagency level have continued after the creation of JIEDDO, and it is still unclear to what extent all [counter-]IED efforts have been coordinated by JIEDDO,” one report said.

Another said: “Although different branches of the military have been doing notable work on counter-IED initiatives, the department lacks an overarching system to track these initiatives across the services.”

The report added, however, that there “is no doubt that despite the complexity and difficulty of its mission, JIEDDO and its predecessor organizations have made significant contributions to the [counter]-IED effort.”

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