Afghanistan — General Sees Progress in Counter-IED Fight

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2010 — More sen­sors, ana­lysts and spe­cial­ly trained dogs — com­bined with stronger ties with local civil­ians and those who gov­ern them — have fueled progress in the bat­tle against road­side bombs in Afghanistan, the direc­tor of an agency devot­ed to that effort said yes­ter­day.

Dur­ing a brief­ing at his organization’s head­quar­ters in Arling­ton, Va., Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, direc­tor of the Joint Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion, said tech­nol­o­gy can help to mit­i­gate the dead­ly threat to coali­tion forces only if it’s inte­grat­ed with an effort to pre­vent peo­ple from plant­i­ng them in the first place. 

Despite an increase in inci­dents that tracks with the build-up of forces in Afghanistan, Oates said, “my assess­ment is we’re mak­ing progress” in the fight against IEDs. The grow­ing num­ber of forces in the coun­try and increased fight­ing caused the num­ber of road­side-bomb inci­dents in Afghanistan to spike to 8,994 in 2009 -– from 2,677 in 2007 — and to near­ly 10,500 so far this year. 

Offi­cials hope to mod­el their strat­e­gy to counter the dead­ly devices in Afghanistan on suc­cess­es in Iraq, where the down­ward trend of inci­dents illus­trates the suc­cess of the strat­e­gy there, Oates said. In 2007, Iraq report­ed near­ly 24,000 inci­dents; so far in 2010, the num­ber is just over 1,100.

Oates said to be suc­cess­ful in Afghanistan, the strat­e­gy must com­bine coun­terin­sur­gency efforts that include trained counter-IED forces, an effec­tive Afghan secu­ri­ty force and polit­i­cal rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of ene­my fight­ers. Those who con­tin­ue to tar­get coali­tion forces must be killed or cap­tured, but that alone is not the solu­tion, he said. 

“If you don’t work to mit­i­gate the recruit­ment and the entice­ment for emplace­ment of IEDs, you will spend an enor­mous amount of blood and trea­sure deal­ing with each indi­vid­ual IED that is put against you,” the gen­er­al said. 

In its approach to coun­ter­ing road­side bombs, JIEDDO attacks the enabling net­work, search­es out and destroys the bombs and trains forces to iden­ti­fy and clear them. From fis­cal 2006 to 2010, $5.4 bil­lion has gone into efforts to attack the bomb-mak­ing net­works, accord­ing to a JIEDDO report. 

“IEDs don’t come up out of the ground like mush­rooms,” Oates said. Net­works fund and sup­ply explo­sive mate­ri­als to those they can con­vince to build and plant the bombs. 

Under­stand­ing the ene­my net­works holds huge poten­tial, Oates said. “We’ve only begun to scratch the sur­face there,” he not­ed, “but the effort we’ve put into under­stand­ing them and how they oper­ate has pro­duced very seri­ous, tan­gi­ble results.” 

Detect­ing bombs is a com­plex chal­lenge, Oates said. Since fis­cal 2006, near­ly $9.5 bil­lion has gone into this effort. 

“Since 2004 in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the detect rate has hung at about 50 per­cent — we find 50 per­cent of the IEDs that are used against us,” Oates said. 

Troops patrolling on foot with a host-nation part­ner and a bomb-sniff­ing dog have the best detec­tion rate for road­side bombs -– some­times as high as 80 per­cent, Oates said. But such a team also faces the great­est risk, because by neces­si­ty it works close to the bombs, he added. 

JIEDDO uses a range of tech­nol­o­gy to remote­ly detect explo­sive devices, includ­ing unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles, ground-pen­e­trat­ing radar for low-metal­lic explo­sive devices, robots and roller sys­tems. But that tech­nol­o­gy also pos­es chal­lenges, the gen­er­al said. Data pour­ing in from sen­sors must be ana­lyzed, inte­grat­ed and turned into use­ful intel­li­gence that troops on the ground can use. The job requires ana­lysts, as well as com­put­er soft­ware and hardware. 

“We have met the chal­lenge to date,” Oates said. “Turn­around on the data to an analy­sis prod­uct is pret­ty decent, but we antic­i­pate more of a chal­lenge here in the future.” Over the next year, he said, about 800 ana­lysts will deploy to the com­bat the­ater to help com­man­ders under­stand the ene­my net­work and pro­vide ana­lyt­i­cal products. 

Train­ing is a crit­i­cal aspect of the strat­e­gy, and $2 bil­lion has gone into that part of the effort since 2006, Oates said. 

“Prob­a­bly the great­est return on invest­ment dol­lar for dol­lar is to help train our sol­diers about the net­work that is fight­ing them and the IED as a device,” Oates said. “So we put a great deal of effort into that as well.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →