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Joint IED Defeat Organization Steps Up Fight

Jun 09, 2008
BY J.D. Leipold

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 11, 2008) – Although the use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq has risen over the past couple of years, coalition casualties have been fewer because U.S. forces have been able to find and clear about half of the IEDs planted, said the Joint IED Defeat Organization director.

Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast June 4, Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz said insurgents cannot beat the coalition tactically, so they’ve increased the average monthly IED production to 2,800.

“That’s not trivial, that’s a factory somebody is paying for – the bomb makers to make it, logistics to deliver it, people to disburse it, dig it in and to ignite it,” Metz said.

Efforts to destroy IED builder networks have had considerable success, Metz said. The Joint IED Defeat Organization has hired retired law enforcement professionals with 20 or 30 years experience who work alongside a brigade commander to help smoke out the networks. Metz said thus far that marriage has proven extremely profitable in taking down networks.

Surveillance from the air and ground – to include using unmanned aerial vehicles, robots and specialized search dogs -- have also been instrumental in the search for IEDs and their networks, he said. He also cited improvements in personal and vehicle armor, as well as training, in contributing to Soldier survival.

“They cannot beat us with the IED tactically; I’m absolutely convinced of that… but the IED is a strategic weapon and is not going to stop (being constructed),” he added. “Our Soldiers are so good they’ll win this thing; they find and clear more than 50 percent of them, and we’ve given them the protection to survive almost every time.”

Metz said when he commanded Multi-National Corps-Iraq from 2004 to 2005, IED use was high, but today it’s the weapon of choice. He also said during his tour most every IED was initiated by a low or high-powered radio device, ranging from a garage door opener to a sophisticated radio.

“We have worked hard to get him off the radio control business, pushed out jamming devices, spending billions, we pushed the enemy and pushed him away from that so his option was to go less sophisticated, back to command wires and pressure plates,” Metz said.

“He is not a dumb thug… he is a thinking, innovative, very adaptable, nimble enemy.”

Metz added, however, that many talented scientists and engineers here are working to help defeat the IED threat.

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