As US and coalition forces prepare for a drawdown in Iraq, the commander of the Pentagon’s effort to combat deadly improvised explosive devices said Thursday that remarkable progress has been made against these deadly weapons in the past two years. Since its creation in 2006, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization has worked to get at the IED problem by undermining the weapon’s use as a “strategic weapon,” Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, JIEDDO director, told defense reporters in Washington D.C. Whereas in late 2006, IED incidents hovered around 2,800 a month—including both effective and ineffective bomb emplacements—today, that number floats around 500, Metz said. And, fatalities from IEDs have been in the single digits each of the past few months, he noted. October saw only two Multi National Force-Iraq personnel killed by IEDs or explosives, the lowest number since the beginning of the Iraqi conflict in March 2003. He said that the success is a combination of the security gains in the country, technology improvements, and efforts to target the insurgent networks used to emplace the weapons. These networks include the financing support, explosives expertise, and actual teams that plant the bombs, he added. Metz also said the proliferation of deadly explosively formed projectiles in Iraq that have been linked to Iranian-backed Shi’a militia groups has dropped off significantly, too. Over the last three months, especially, coalition forces have encountered anywhere from one dozen to 20 EFPs. In contrast, during the height of hostilities, JIEDDO recorded approximately 60 to 80 EFP encounters a month, he said. The supply has dried up and, in addition to coalition efforts to tie up cells, the suppliers of these weapons have clearly backed off, he noted. “I think that inference can be drawn from the data,” he said of the drop-off.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.