The Pentagon’s New IED Report: Impressively Expressed Dawdling

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IEDs are an interesting tool of war: they have accounted for nearly half of the U.S. KIAs in recent years, and their very simplicity is an erect middle finger to U.S. military might and technological prowess. The Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization has just issued its Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Strategic Plan 2012-2016.

There’s no mention of how many killed (more than 2,000), or how much the U.S. has spent trying to reduce the IED threat (more than $20 billion).

But there’s apparently more death, and dollars, coming.

“The ubiquitous nature of IED materials, their low cost, and the potential for strategic impact guarantee the IED will remain a threat and main casualty-producing weapon for decades to come,” Lieut. General Michael Barbero, the JIEDDO director, says in his foreword to the short, but lavishly-produced, report. “The IED threat and the networks that employ them will endure — they are here to stay.”

The investment in defeating IEDs has had mixed results, to put it kindly. The so-called “strategic plan” is nothing of the kind. It reads like a college term paper, crammed with platitudes (…to enable the defeat of the IED as a weapon of strategic influence…we must remain agile and responsive to the needs of our commanders and warfighters, proactive in our approach, and tireless in our pursuit of comprehensive and timely solutions to the IED threat…) and a full-page glossary of 10 complicated terms like “DoD”, “IED” and “R&D”.

Then, finally, there’s the section detailing JIEDDO’s “goals and objectives.” That’s actually pretty simple: stop IEDs from killing our troops. But there is no “how” anywhere in the “strategic plan.” The report notes that its “action plan” – presumably on how to do just that – “will be available upon completion.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic, and if young men and women weren’t dying.