07/08/2013 Andrew Elwell - defenceiq.com
One of the big questions relating to the reorganisation of the Armed Forces following the withdrawal from Afghanistan relates to the future of Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Will it still be an operational necessity or is the argument for its continued economic outlay too fragile?
The unit was formed in 2006 after a spate of deadly incidents involving the roadside bombs forced the US government to act. JIEDDO has been central to informing opinion on IEDs for a decade but senior US defence officials are now discussing its future. There are three options being considered: maintain JIEDDO’s capabilities but split its duties between the military forces; scale down its operations and house it within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD); or shut it down.
Colonel Gareth Bex, Head of Army EOD & Search at the UK MoD, is a man who would have an opinion on JIEDDO’s future effectiveness. He spoke at the Counter-IED conference in London last month and insisted that “the genie is out of the bottle [for insurgents and their effective use of IEDs], and there’s no way it’s going back in.”
Col Bex went on to say that the UK failed to continue the investment it made in this area after Northern Ireland and lost the mainstay of its C-IED capabilities as a result. When protection against IEDs and mine blasts wasn't top of the agenda anymore it was easy for that investment to be directed into other avenues. Bex wonders if the same may happen again post-Afghanistan, especially considering the current economic climate. But it mustn't. The lessons learned from Afghanistan must not be allowed to be forgotten like they were after Northern Ireland - the only way to do that is maintain investment in the area and continue to take the threat seriously.
“IEDs are certainly an enduring global threat,” said Col Bex.
With that in mind, how can the US justify the elimination of JIEDDO? It would be imprudent, and short-sighted.
While breaking up the organisation and spreading it out through the military services – a process known as disaggregation – is a viable option, the best, and perhaps most likely option for the JIEDDO may be to roll it into the OSD.
JIEDDO has spent in the region of $20 billion since 2006, including the largest and most ambitious UOR programme ever for the design and acquisition of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) family of vehicles.