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Lt. Gen Barbero receives capabilities briefing on replicating extremist networks that employ IEDs

October 9, 2012

By Capt. Chad E Cooper (Irwin)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. --In a world of technological advances in electronic capabilities, threats to Coalition Forces are growing and are spreading thanks to newer technologies that can often be undetectable but lethal.

Improvised explosive devices and the extremist networks utilizing asymmetric weapons, which are strategies and tactics used in unconventional warfare, continue to be a key threat to Coalition Forces. Weaker combatants using strategic attempts to exploit the characteristic weaknesses of their opponents will remain a threat to Coalition Forces currently engaged in combat operations and for the foreseeable future.

Training to counter this Improvised Explosive Device threat will help those engaged in combat operations missions stay alive.

The National Training Center and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment hosted Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, Director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, (JIEDDO), on Oct. 3, 2012 to demonstrate how the Terrorist Explosive Network (TEN) Shop, 11th ACR's, Regimental Support Squadron, Vanguard Military Intelligence Company is currently training Coalition Forces to meet today's challenges and tomorrows uncertain conflicts. Approximately 50,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines train at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin annually. "We replicate the various extremist networks that employ the IEDs used in a combat theatre today" said Sgt. Joshua Howell, an Intelligence Analyst, assigned to the 11TH ACR's Vanguard Military Intelligence Company. "One unique aspect of our job is to take the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan and replicate that threat here in a real world training environment on the rotational training unit in order to provide the best counter-IED capability to the war fighter".

"The NTC replicates the tough, realistic operational environment that America's war fighters face in Afghanistan daily. The training we provide here is relevant and quickly adaptable to emerging threats and technologies in the current operational environments" said Lt. Col Scott McFarland, Commanding Officer, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th ACR. "Focusing solely on IEDs equals to just playing defense. Rotational Training Units balance several lines of operations and efforts in their daily fight, only one of which is focused on IEDs. They must identify and counter IEDs as well as attack the networks, and our Soldiers assist them in that effort. With our Soldiers replicating the extremist networks that employ the IEDs, RTU Commanders and war fighters on the ground must continuously refine their tactics, techniques and procedures to try and defeat our network here at the NTC in preparation for the specific threat environment they are about to operate in."

The NTC has continued to adapt, changing the design and execution of the training to be applicable to 21st Century challenges. The replicated network provided here utilizes everything from the internet to social media to replicate the extended reach of these organizations, providing platforms for recruiting, technical exchanges, training, planning, funding and social interaction.
This trend is apparent in Afghanistan, where IED events continue to rise. "In the past two years, IED events have increased 42 percent," Barbero said. A major factor contributing to these high numbers is the use of fertilizer-based homemade explosives.

"While the overall number of IED events is high, our ability to find and neutralize them before detonation has improved steadily, helping to reduce U.S. casualties," said Barbero.

JIEDDO co-leads an interagency that is consisting of agencies ranging from U.S. intelligence and interagency partners, federal law enforcement, coalition communities and forward-deployed forces. The goal of JIEDDO is to achieve a more transparent and holistic effort to disrupt and attack the threat networks employing IEDs against U.S. and coalition forces.

One of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's focuses is maintaining this momentum to replicate an adaptive threat and creative enemy for the 10 Brigade sized elements each year that requires the continued focus of the intelligence community to build a common intelligence picture to be replicated similar to the combat environment they are about to deploy.

The IED threat and the networks that employ these weapons are here to stay, operationally and here at home, Barbero said. "The training you Soldiers are providing here based on the lessons learned from previous and current is crucial. The lessons learned here assist in adapting our institutions accordingly to ensure we can retain our hard-earned capabilities to counter these threats. "

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