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As America winds down its involvement in Afghanistan and President Barack Obama retools the nation’s approach to fighting terrorism on a global scale, pressure is mounting to dismantle war-related activities such as JIEDDO, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Founded at the height of the Iraq war, JIEDDO spent billions studying and countering enemy advances and protecting countless US and allied troops. Critics say today’s force has mastered the IED threat, negating the need for a dedicated $1.4 billion organization tasked with their defeat.
But the lesson US leaders must heed since 9/11 is that its enemies will always employ low-cost, asymmetrical means to neutralize US military advantages and to impose the maximum possible dissuasive cost on America and its allies.
The proliferation of homemade but sophisticated IEDs is a global problem. So are new long-range missiles and precision rockets, artillery and mortars, which are game changing for air, land and sea power. Cyber attacks, both on small and grand scales, are another asymmetrical threat.
JEIDDO can be scaled down, but must be preserved and transformed into an interdisciplinary center for the varied asymmetrical threats America and its friends will face.
Washington forgot similar lessons of Vietnam, where IEDs were also used. It cannot let that happen again.
DoD must be prepared for all foreseeable threats. It cannot be caught, once again, by surprise and forced to play a costly game of catch-up.