Sunday, July 06, 2008

$10 Billion Pentagon Program Fails To Defeat IED Threat In Iraq


Taking a look at the latest troop casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, it quickly becomes apparent that IEDs remain a lethal threat to the U.S. military. In April, May and June, IEDs killed at least 54 U.S. troops, causing over half the 104 combat deaths suffered by the military in those three months.

It's clear that the U.S. military's $10 billion program to defeat the IED threat isn't working. The program (officially called the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization) was launched by the Pentagon in 2005 to foil IED attacks.

The program has increasingly come under fire as ineffective and poorly run. As reported in September, the program is a "boondoggle" that a Joint Forces Staff College review concluded is "mired in red tape and has relied excessively on technology."

Astonishingly, the U.S. has now spent more on this anti-IED program, in equivalent dollars, than it spent on the Manhattan Project installation that produced plutonium for World War II's atomic bombs.

Insurgents have enjoyed great success with IEDs, despite the fact the devices are remarkably low-tech and are often detonated with ordinary remote controls or cell phones.

What is particularly stunning about the whole IED saga is the fact that ordnance used in these devices was looted by insurgents in the first few weeks of the Iraq War. The Pentagon admits that over 250,000 tons of ordnance was looted--enough to build 1 million 500-pound bombs.

One might wonder why arms depots across Iraq were left unguarded in the early stages of the war. Well, it appears the U.S. military had higher priorities.

One of the few buildings left untouched by looters in April 2003 was the massive Oil Ministry building in Baghdad, which was heavily guarded by U.S. troops. When U.S. forces entered Baghdad, they immediately surrounded the building with 50 tanks, while sharpshooters positioned themselves on the roof and in the windows.

Oil fields in Iraq were also heavily guarded in the early days of the war. Amnesty International criticized the attention placed on controlling oilfields, which it noted must have taken "much planning and resources."

But while the U.S. military lavished great care on securing the Baghdad Oil Ministry and Iraq's oil fields, hundreds of arms depots remained unguarded in April 2003.

Five years later, the ordnance looted from those arms depots continues to be used to build IEDs. And despite spending $10 billion to defeat IEDs, the Pentagon has yet to come up with an answer to this lethal threat to our troops.


Anonymous said...

As a combat engineer in Iraq for the invasion and initial stages of the occupation I can attest to the lack of priority given to securing, moving and destroying munitions stockpiles.

The few times I was sent out with the rest of my platoon to deal with caches we realized that we didn't have enough people on site to be able to move everything we found in one day, we didn't have the people to leave anybody behind to guard the leftovers, we were running out of demolitions, we were constantly being yelled out for making the blasts too big (which was a direct cause of not having our demo supply restocked), and in the end was a horribly frustrating task.

-Jolly Sapper-

Anonymous said...

Another example of the U.S. being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Before 9/11, Bush was single-mindedly focused on the $250 billion "missile defense" boondoggle (even though many top scientists said it could never work).

Bush refused to spend a tiny fraction of that (a proposed $50 million) to implement the recommendations of the Rudman/Hart commission (which on Feb. 15, 2001, recommended the created of a "National Homeland Security Agency" which would coordinate various government agencies in combating terror).

And today, we're bogged down in the $3 trillion Iraq War fiasco---while our homeland remains woefully unprepared to deal with terrorism. (Few of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations have been implemented).

And the airlines remain extremely vulnerable to terrorism (for example, here we are, seven years after 9/11, and much of what is loaded into cargo holds on passenger planes remains uninspected).

Like I said, penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Batocchio said...

Rumsfeld wanted a small force to prove his own theories right, in part - while much of the Bush administration knew a larger force would be a harder sell. As Digby often writes, the incompetence is a feature, not a bug.

Anonymous said...

Botacchio, It was all part of the plan. Bush and the Neocons knew the public would not accept a draft to invade Iraq. The plan was to say that a small force was all that was needed. That's why Shinsiki got canned. To bolster this 'small' force was, the well hidden fact at the time, the adddition of as many private contracting personnel as possible. This effectively doubled the size of the 'small force' and freed the troops all up for combat. In my opinion this was all planned. They knew they couldn't sell a draft but wanted as many troops/people on the ground as possible. They wanted to be there for Bush's second term and beyond. They wanted Iraq destabilized as much as possible to foster its dependence on us. They have utilized the all volunteer army to its maximum to achieve their goals.

Anonymous said...

Just another in a long line of costly (in terms of dollars and lives) miscalculations by the higher-ups. It would be easier to simply send a card that said "FUCK YOU" to everyone in uniform.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jolly Sapper, thanks for your comment. If you don't mind me asking, how do you lean politically? I'm just curious (the stereotype that I hear a lot of these days is that "the troops are 90 percent Republicans" and I always wonder how accurate that is).

Gary Lee Thomas said...

The cellular network was never shut down. Never. How do a majority of remote-controlled IEDs get triggered? Cell phones. We never controlled the battlespace in this area, and that is where the enemy lived yesterday, today, and likely tomorrow. GLT.

Gary Lee Thomas said...

The cellular network was never shut down. Never. Because of that fact, the insurgents have learned to use cellular phones to remote-trigger IEDs.