Nine years after JIEDDO’s creation, however, it will soon fade into the Pentagon’s bureaucracy. One reading of this, as Military Times noted last week, is that JIEDDO’s main functions will become permanent. But it also means, as Military.com highlighted, that JIEDDO itself will be diminished, with a smaller budget, a new name and fewer employees in a combat support organization that falls under Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.
The details are still being worked out, but it is effectively the end of JIEDDO as we know it.
The organization’s legacy is mixed. On one hand, JIEDDO’s creation meant that there was a Defense Department organization that could rapidly sort through and acquire technology to help troops find IEDs on the battlefield. Examples include the Thor, a backpack-like radio that jammed radio-controlled IEDs, and the variety of metal detectors that U.S. troops used to search for bombs. Equipment like that was considered key, especially as insurgents constantly adopted new techniques to make the bombs hard to find.
On the other hand, JIEDDO grew to become a behemoth with at least 2,000 employees, a multi-billion dollar budget that wasn’t closely scrutinized by outside organizations. For example, a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Organization, the investigative arm of Congress, noted the organization had not yet developed a comprehensive counter-IED strategy and that other Defense Department organizations, independent of JIEDDO, were still developing equipment to find roadside bombs.
“Without actionable goals and objectives established by DOD, JIEDDO, and other DOD components cannot tie individual performance measures to DOD’s desired outcomes,” the GAO found. “As a result, DOD and external stakeholders are left without a comprehensive, data-driven assessment as to whether DOD’s counter-IED efforts are achieving DOD’s mission.”
“Furthermore, without a means to measure the success of JIEDDO’s efforts in achieving DOD’s counter-IED mission, JIEDDO’s basis for determining how to invest its resources among its three lines of organizational effort — to attack the network, defeat the device, and train the force — is limited,” the report added.
But a 2013 report by the Rand Corp., a think tank, requested by the Pentagon at the direction of Congress said that although the services were developing their own counter-IED capabilities, they rarely overlapped directly with JIEDDO’s and were more often complementary.
“The overall conclusion is that while many Service organizations are developing and fielding C-IED training capabilities using functions and processes similar to JIEDDO, the processes in place provide effective coordination and integration and mitigate the risk of inefficiency,” Rand’s study found. “JIEDDO’s success in this respect may also be a function of its ability to perform all the elements of capability development within a single organization, rather than spreading functions across several organizations, as is the case with the Service models.”
Other organizations will continue to look for new ways to ferret out IEDs. The Defenses Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), for example, announced in 2012 that it was looking for a way to find bombs in mud, meat or animal carcasses, materials that current technology couldn’t effectively penetrate.
Finding IEDs remains difficult work that relies just as much on rank-and-file soldiers and Marines talking to villagers as it does expensive equipment. IEDs will present a challenge for a long time to come.