Archive for January 3, 2013

COUNTER TERRORISM: Widening Risk of Bombs and Booby Traps

Counter-IED

A Stryker fighting vehicle lies on its side after an IED blast in 2007. (U.S. Army photo)

A Stryker fighting vehicle after an IED blast in 2007. (U.S. Army photo)

The war in Afghanistan may be winding down but that’s not the case with homemade bombs and booby traps, according to the commander of the Defense Department unit battling improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“I believe the IED and the networks that use these asymmetric weapons will remain a threat to our forces [overseas] and here at home for decades,” U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero says.

Barbero is director of the Defense Department’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Since its creation in 2006, it has used high tech detection systems, body armor, trained bomb sniffing dogs, unmanned air and ground vehicles, and heavilly armored vehicles to thwart attacks on troops and civilians, first in Iraq and now, Afghanistan.

“The IED is the weapon of choicefor threat networks because they are cheap, readilly available, largely off the shelf, easy to construct, lethal and accurate,” Barbero told the House Appropriation Committee’s defense spending panel Sept. 20.

Between Fiscal Years 2006 and 2011, JIEDDO has received more than $8 billion for Counter IED (C-IED) programs. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Defense Department has spent billions of dollars developing C-IED capabilities — including $40 billion on mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles – large, lumbering trucks and wheeled-personnel carriers known as MRAPs.

Yet IEDs are still the leading cause of civilian, military and law enforcement casualties in boith Afghanistan and Pakistan, Barbero told a Senate subcommittee hearing last month. “More than 60 percent of U.S. combat casualties in Afghanistan – both killed and wounded in action – are a result of IEDs,” he added.

The spread of IEDs beyond Afghanistan and how to counter them will be discussed at a conference later this month in Washington sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. To read more of my C-IED story, click here.

January 3, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment


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