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IED Center, Task Force to Bridge Gap Between Training Centers, Theater

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2005 – A new improvised-explosive-device center of excellence at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the existing Joint IED Task Force will use lessons learned in Iraq to develop strategies to defeat the significant threat IEDs pose to servicemembers around the world, a senior military official said here Dec. 6.

Speaking on background, the official said IEDs are the primary source of U.S. casualties in Iraq and are causing an increasing number of civilian casualties. To meet this widespread threat, the IED center is being developed to integrate new technology and concepts into training, and the task force is being increased from 175 to 300 people, he said.

"This is meant to be a defeat of the entire IED system," the official said. "We want to make sure that we continue and do even a better job of sharing the best practices amongst all of our troops, our forces that are deployed, and also on the training end of this."

The IED center at Fort Irwin will be crucial in linking the U.S. training centers with troops in theater, to share lessons learned, strategies and concepts, the official said. Forward teams are working with units in Iraq and Afghanistan and will disseminate information in theater and back to the United States, he said.

"We hold ourselves to very high standards moving money, and we want to do the same thing with moving good practices as well," he said. "That's a very, very important aspect to what we're trying to do."

The Joint IED Task Force is made up of personnel from all services, as well as the retiree community, all of whom are dedicated full-time to defeating the threat of IEDs, the official said. "We are reaching out to get the very, very best people that we can, get them involved in this and then keep them involved in this so that we do preserve continuity of the effort," he said.

To further expedite the development of strategies against IEDs, the government has removed a number of financial roadblocks for the task force, the official said. The commander of the task force now has authority from the deputy secretary of defense to spend up to $25 million per contract for anything that needs to be done, he said.

Money always is available to the task force, so the time to process a request for a contract has been decreased substantially, the official said. Also, if anything exceeds the $25 million limit, the deputy secretary of defense can authorize the expenditure, he said.

"That's like light speed here in the Pentagon to be able to get money out to put against almost any requirement we need," he said.

All of this is being done in an effort to ensure there are no obstacles between the task force and the resources it needs to help America's servicemembers in the fight against terrorism, the official said.

To engage the entire Defense Department and other national assets in the fight against IEDs, the task force is sponsoring a national lab conference Dec. 8, the official said. Representatives from across DoD, the Department of Energy and federally funded research and development centers will be briefed, in a classified setting, about the IED threat, how units are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what help is needed, he said.

DoD also is partnering with industry to address the threat of IEDs, the official said. The task force will sponsor a conference in January for industry leaders, to brief them about the current and evolving threats and how they can help, he said.

IEDs are not a new threat and actually have been used all over the world for a long time, the official said. Terrorists have technological support from many countries via the Internet, so the work of the task force is important to stop the spread of weapons of this kind, he said.

"This is all part of this broader effort to look at these evolving threats in the mid- to long-term, in addition to those that we're dealing with immediately," he said.

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