WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 — Few Defense Department agencies have a more important mission than the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III told a Pentagon audience today.
The JIEDDO, as it is known, leads the department’s efforts to defeat the use of improvised explosive devices by insurgents in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Speaking at the agency’s change of directorship ceremony, Lynn joked about the agency’s acronym.
“The rule of thumb in Washington, I think, is ‘the longer the acronym, the tougher the mission,’ and that certainly applies to JIEDDO,” Lynn said.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates, who is slated to retire, is passing JIEDDO’s leadership baton to incoming commander Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero.
JIEDDO has a “particularly complicated assignment,” Lynn said, noting that during Oates’ leadership of JIEDDO his charge was to improve upon the organization’s many successes.
Adding to that, Lynn said, was “an influx of tens of thousands of additional troops” into Afghanistan, which meant that “more men and women” would encounter the very threat Oates was tasked to defeat.
Today, IEDs remain “the most-lethal threat we face in Afghanistan,” Lynn said.
“But under General Oates’ leadership,” he added, “the JIEDDO has worked hard to confront that challenge.”
Extraordinary resources, both monetary and human, were committed to address the dangers improvised explosives pose to troops, Lynn said. The investment in counter-IED technology and enhanced surveillance capabilities has proved integral in reducing attacks, he said.
Barbero has served three tours in Iraq and for the past 18 months was the deputy commander in charge of advising and training Iraqi troops.
As JIEDDO’s commander, Barbero will employ skills that made him successful in Iraq, such as having “patience for [solving] a complicated problem, navigating the resources of a complex bureaucracy, and staying agile to keep our troops safe,” Lynn said.
The IED threat continues to evolve, the deputy secretary said. “Because of this, our military needs to continually innovate and improve our [anti-IED] strategy,” he said, adding that JIEDDO is doing just that.
“That’s why its mission is so vital,” Lynn said, adding that JIEDDO is at the forefront of efforts to meet the changing nature of conflict.
“There’s no greater mission than to protect our warriors as they go into harm’s way,” Barbero said. “And JIEDDO will continue to focus on and meet the needs of the warfighter.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)