Smoke from the controlled detonation of improvised explosive devices rises behind a US Marine Corps mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Afghanistan. (Agence France-Presse)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to shrink its organization tasked with defeating roadside bombs and reorganize other quick-reaction task forces born out of more than a decade of counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The decision by senior US Defense Department officials to truncate the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and realign the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force comes after a year of debate over how to institutionalize these entities.
The reorganizations were set in motion by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in a memo earlier this month.
DoD officials had been contemplating three options for JIEDDO’s future: Eliminate the organization; break up its duties among the military services through a process called disaggregation; or restructure JIEDDO into a smaller office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).
JIEDDO’s mission will continue to evolve, a defense official said. The organization’s “evolution will continue to support DoD efforts to retain a flexible and an agile force and also the ability to respond to urgent warfighter needs as they may arise.”
Defense officials are still determining the specifics of the downsizing, and the final path forward is still to be determined and pending the budget review process.
Senior JIEDDO officials, during a recent visit to Afghanistan, said the organization will be smaller but should maintain some of its most important capabilities, according to a DoD press article.
“If you look at the mission statement for JIEDDO, it’s to defeat the IED as a weapon of strategic influence,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Higgins, JIEDDO’s deputy director, said in the article. “Now I’m not ready to come out yet and say ‘mission accomplished,’ but if you look at the work over the last decade of war, what we have done in Iraq and what we are in the process of doing here, that is demonstratively proven.”
JIEDDO officials must submit a drawdown plan to OSD in the their 2015 budget proposal. JIEDDO should reach its lower staff level in 2017.
As for the ISR Task Force, Michael Vickers, the undersecretary for intelligence, must submit a plan to align the organization as a “permanent entity” within his directorate.
“The transitioned organization will be staffed appropriately to enable rapid fielding of new ISR capabilities in support of global warfighter requirement,” Carter wrote in a memo.
In addition, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale and the head of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell have been tasked with institutionalizing the funding process for urgent battlefield needs.