“So we still work with them. We just are not emphasizing them to the degree that we’re emphasizing other technologies and other capabilities that we provide for the soldiers.”
Dogs and other tools
The JIEDDO website contains an endorsement of using dogs to find fertilizer and chemical bombs.
“JIEDDO is funding more than $12 million for new and existing IED detection dog training programs,” the site states. “Distinct from the DoD military working dog programs, the detection canine can pick up the odors produced by the explosives in the form of invisible vapors or signatures and detect surface laid, buried and hidden IEDs.”
The Web page shows a photo of a detection services dog handler and his dog, Tinus. The item says the use of such dogs has increased.
But Mr. Korba said: “The dog budget is a smaller portion of what we were doing two years ago.”
The military owns about 2,700 dogs, up from 1,800 before Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Defense Department. About 600 are deployed as “war dogs.”
At a JIEDDO conference last year, Gen. Barbero, who did three tours and 46 months in Iraq before becoming director in March 2011, said roadside bombs in Afghanistan were increasingly being made with homemade explosives.
“Explosives can be made from a range of fertilizers, but it is far too easy to turn calcium ammonium nitrate into a bomb, and it is the bomb-maker’s product of choice - by far,” Gen. Barbero said, according to ABC News.
The JIEDDO website displays information about several counter-IED systems, including bomb-clearing vehicles, mini-robots such as the Devil Pup, aerostat balloons with surveillance gear to find insurgents planting bombs, metal detectors - and dogs.
Said Mr. Korba: “There’s far more IEDs being employed against us, of different varieties. We’re finding more of them. But clearly we’re not finding all of them.”
At least 1,266 troops have been killed by IEDs since the start of the Afghanistan War, including 61 this year, according to icasualties.org, which keeps tracks of such statistics. Last year, 252 troops were killed by IEDs, a 31 percent reduction from 2010’s tally.