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National Defense > Blog > Posts > ‘IEDs Are the Battlefield,’ General Says
‘IEDs Are the Battlefield,’ General Says
Improvised explosive devices were once used as a means to lure troops into firefights where insurgents could ambush them with small arms fire. Today, it’s the opposite, said the director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization. Small arms are used to lure troops to IED emplacements.
 
“They are using small arms to lure us into IEDs when we are dismounted. They’re using small arms to set up an IED engagement when were mounted, and they’re using small arms to break … contact. It is all about the IED,” Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, said at a Jan. 26 talk at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
 
He quoted one combatant commander serving in Afghanistan: “It’s not a case of IEDs on the battlefield. IEDs are the battlefield.”
 
“Before, these were complementary capabilities on the battlefield, which led to either a direct engagement or facilitated maneuver, or firepower, but this is the weapon. This is the fight,” Barbero said.
 
Barbero’s comments came only hours before Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered a “Defense Budget and Priorities” document outlining what capabilities the Pentagon would like to cut and what it would like to “protect." The details of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2013 budget request  including specific funding for JIEDDO  will be revealed Feb. 13.
 
Meanwhile, roadside bombs continue to take their toll on U.S. forces. The proliferation of IEDs is fueled by the reality of inexpensive and easy to obtain components, such as circuit boards and ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer component that can be used as the explosives.
 
“Their C4ISR model is crushing ours,” Barbero said of the insurgents’ command, control, computers, communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Compared to the counter-IED efforts of the U.S. military and federal bureaucracy, which is scattered over multiple departments and agencies, the networks that design, fund and emplace bombs are nimble, he said.  “They are flatter, virtual, unencumbered,” he said. As for their use of the Internet to carry out operations, “It is relatively secure. It’s cheap, seamless.”
 
They use social networking as a means for recruiting, sharing tactics, techniques and procedures, rehearsals and to transfer funds, he added.
 
“You have to continue to invest in defeating the device. That is what drives down the casualties, but that is playing defense,” Barbero said, noting that he believed that the IED scourge is here to stay, and the tactic will continue to be used globally as a weapon of terror. There are some 500 IED incidents per month outside Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
 
JIEDDO has a three-pronged approach. One is defeating the device by detecting the bombs before they detonate, or by improving protection for troops and vehicles.

U.S. forces also had great success in Iraq by “attacking the network.” The third element is “training the force.” That is where he sees room for improvement.
 
“I think our biggest gap is training. We are working it as hard as we can. But we have improved training. We are really focused on that,” he said.
 
“At the end of the day, our best counter-IED capability is the soldier or Marine who knows how to use these [capabilities] — what looks right and what doesn’t,” he said.
 
 
  

Comments

Re: ‘IEDs Are the Battlefield,’ General Says

How about developing an EMP device that will take out any electronic timers, triggers and circuit boards.

We need to attack the IED device before it is used against our troops.
Kim Fox at 1/30/2012 10:53 AM

Re: ‘IEDs Are the Battlefield,’ General Says

But didn't General Conway, former CMC say that Marines could just drive around them?  Or fly over them in that crazy flying HMMWV he was pushing? 

EMP device won't work.  You need to FIND the IED first and then using the EMP will cause damage to civilian electronics in the area as well as possibly damage our own equipment. 

What we really need is soldiers and Marines that are allowed to stay in longer.  You can only learn and do so much in 4 years.  And those who do stay in are expected to constantly retrain the newbies at the cost of career development.  The Draft Era mentality that most Enlisted should WANT to leave after 4 years (hince the 15% rate of those who actually stay 20 years or more) and the current Up-or-Out system is both costly in terms of dollars spent as well as Force Development.
Mark Ash at 2/1/2012 1:58 AM

Re: ‘IEDs Are the Battlefield,’ General Says

EMP wouldn't defeat an open circuit, non-metalic Victim Initiated IED trigger anyway.  It would only be useful against a device utilizing a relatively sophisticated cell phone or electronic timer type initiator.
Daniel at 3/5/2012 1:09 PM

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