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Monday, September 17, 2007      New: Take a Stand

Report calls $10 billion anti-IED program a bureaucratic boondoggle

WASHINGTON The U.S. war against improvised explosive devices in Iraq is mired in red tape and has relied excessively on technology, a Joint Forces Staff College review concluded.

The report said the Defense Department has failed in its $10 billion program to defeat IEDs in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. The study by officers from the Joint Forces Staff College asserted that the Pentagon was unable to respond to advances in IED development by Sunni and Shi'ite insurgency groups.

"The larger an organization gets, the less agile it becomes," the report said.

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The three authors examined the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, established in 2005 to provide technological solutions and tactics to foil IED attacks. IEDs have been responsible for more than 50 percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Entitled "JIEDDO "Mired in Organizational Chaos," the report said the three-year program has been hampered by a huge bureaucracy as well as a flawed doctrine. The authors Army Lt. Col. Richard Ellis, Air Force Maj. Richard Rogers and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Cochran asserted that the organization has been limited to the search for technological solutions.

"It overly relies on technology to defeat an adaptive enemy who quickly learns how to overcome our latest [technological] countermeasures," the report said. "It is built around a technical solution approach focused on research and development, testing and fielding the elusive 'silver bullet' to defeat IEDs."

But the study said Iraqi insurgents have been successful in overcoming U.S.-origin IED jammers. The officers suggested that military tactics would be more practical and faster to deploy than the development of new equipment.

"JIEDDO requires fundamental changes in its approach to combating IEDs," the report said. "It must redirect its efforts from a technological-based approach and apply its resources to the development of a comprehensive, strategic plan to combat IEDs."

JIEDDO, with at least 360 employees, requires an acquisition and planning strategy and must focus on the "operational, logistics, and intelligence" to counter the IED threat, the report said. The authors said the new organization being examined by the Government Accountability Office must come under the umbrella of the Joint Forces Command.

"JIEDDO should provide a DoD-level acquisition strategy, based on Regional Combatant Commander priorities, that directs service execution of material solutions," the report said. "A joint acquisition plan for defeating IEDs would ensure unity of effort when the services budget for their individual programs. However, by focusing on the short-term, technical solution approach, JIEDDO created a structure that short-changed its responsibility to guide the entire DoD effort to defeat IEDs."

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