USA — General seeks better ways for defeating IEDs

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 29, 2010) — The three-star gen­er­al direct­ing the Joint Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion wants to lis­ten to inter­me­di­ate-lev­el offi­cers’ ideas for push­ing infor­ma­tion and tech­nol­o­gy into Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization
Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, direc­tor of the Joint Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion, talks about what is being done con­cern­ing the impro­vised explo­sive device threat in Afghanistan, to include improv­ing equip­ment and detec­tion, April 27, in the Com­bined Arms Cen­ter commander’s con­fer­ence room on Fort Leav­en­worth, Kan.
Source: US Army
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Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates vis­it­ed Fort Leav­en­worth April 27 to meet with Com­bined Arms Cen­ter direc­torates, net­work with vis­it­ing Sec­re­tary of the Army John McHugh and learn about the new Mis­sion Com­mand Cen­ter of Excel­lence.

The Joint IED Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion, or JIEDDO, began in 2006 as an inde­pen­dent Depart­ment of Defense enti­ty. Report­ing direct­ly to the deputy sec­re­tary of Defense, Oates said his orga­ni­za­tion has fund­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty to help ser­vice­mem­bers sur­vive and defeat IEDs.

Oates said JIEDDO’s focus now is meet­ing the chal­lenges in Afghanistan.

“The prob­lem in Afghanistan is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent than what we saw in Iraq,” he said. “In Iraq, most of the IEDs were mil­i­tary-grade explo­sives and the det­o­na­tion sys­tems were fair­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed and the vol­ume was very high. In Afghanistan, the IEDs are large­ly home­made explo­sives around fer­til­iz­er and the det­o­na­tion sys­tems are very rudi­men­ta­ry.”

Oates said Afghanistan IEDs are large­ly pres­sure plate, vic­tim-oper­at­ed and can be dif­fi­cult to detect. He also said Afghanistan IEDs are few­er than Iraq, but their use has been increas­ing over the past year, par­tic­u­lar­ly because of the coali­tion push into the Tal­iban cen­ter of grav­i­ty in the south.

“We are very aware of what the threat is in Afghanistan, and we’ve changed some of our train­ing to enable Sol­diers to sur­vive,” he said.

Defeat­ing IEDs requires train­ing and using new tech­nol­o­gy. Oates said get­ting new tech­nol­o­gy trans­port­ed to Afghanistan has been an issue.

“There’s a trans­porta­tion prob­lem of get­ting any­thing into Afghanistan,” he said. “So where we had a much more robust infra­struc­ture in Iraq sup­port­ing through Kuwait, there’s a trans­porta­tion chal­lenge for mov­ing peo­ple or equip­ment into Afghanistan. The good news is … we’ve surged a sig­nif­i­cant amount of trans­porta­tion assets to improve that in the last sev­er­al months, so I don’t think that’s going to be a lim­it­ing fac­tor.”

The oth­er chal­lenge is get­ting infor­ma­tion to Sol­diers.

“The biggest chal­lenge is being able to push the infor­ma­tion all the way down to the low­est lev­el, and that’s dif­fi­cult in Afghanistan because you need band­width,” he said.

Oates said already, junior lead­ers are pro­vid­ing JIEDDO with sug­ges­tions on how to improve intel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ties and get more intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties at the low­er lev­els. Oates said JIEDDO is work­ing on get­ting more tech­nol­o­gy to the fight tak­ing place at the com­pa­ny and insti­tu­tion lev­els.

“The majors and cap­tains that are in ILE are prob­a­bly the best-trained junior lead­ers we’ve had in the Army in decades,” he said. “They actu­al­ly under­stand the counter-IED fight bet­ter than the seniors do.”

Oates said one way Sol­diers can pro­vide JIEDDO with sug­ges­tions is through its web­site, Scroll to the bot­tom of the site and click on “ask JIEDDO.”

Oates said JIEDDO is also work­ing with CAC ele­ments to help the orga­ni­za­tion make best use of finan­cial resources pro­vid­ed by Con­gress.

“Train­ing Sol­diers gives us the great­est return on invest­ment, so whether it’s train­ing bat­tle staff or train­ing lead­ers or train­ing indi­vid­ual Sol­diers at com­bat train­ing cen­ters, we’re going to get a great return on that invest­ment of sav­ing lives and in defeat­ing these devices,” he said.

Oates also said he was hum­bled by the ser­vice of inter­me­di­ate lev­el offi­cers who joined the Army at a time of war, or who stayed with the Army short­ly after the war began.

“I know the sac­ri­fice that they’ve had to put up with,” he said. “They’re just phe­nom­e­nal, great Amer­i­cans, so I’m pret­ty moti­vat­ed try­ing to help them.”

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