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Winning Against IEDs

February 11, 2009
By Henry Kenyon
Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, USA
Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, USA, director, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), offers solutions for defeating IEDs to the audience at West 2009.

The only way to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is to treat them as strategic weapons, says Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, USA, director, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). And, with that approach, networking may be the key enabler.

"We are in a long war against extremists," the general stated, and he described in blunt terms the atrocities these extremists commit against innocent people, particularly women. This will be a long fight against an enemy whose weapon of choice is the IED.

Gen. Metz described many traditional networking capabilities that are necessary for broad countermeasures against IEDs. These capabilities include being able to access broad types of information on adversaries likely to use IEDs; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance optimization; among network-centric data sharing.

He also revealed that his organization discovered an IED "research and development" organization in Baghdad, and U.S. forces shut it down.

Predictive analysis will help, but achieving it will be extremely difficult, and Gen. Metz does not expect an ideal solution anytime soon. The Defense Department's data sharing environment is not robust enough for analysts, he said.

Gen. Metz used an audio-visual demonstration of Google Earth capabilities to show what an analyst could learn from real-time, open-source information. Adding classified data to this capability would give the analyst great power to prevent IED incidents and allow forces to attack IED networks, he stated.

The general emphasized that country should maintain JIEDDO even if it pulls forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The threat could come home easily, and then people would clamor for this type of organization after the fact.

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