What’s Brewin’: Organizational Chaos?

JIEDDO "Mired in Organizational Chaos"

That's the title line of an insightful paper on JIEDDO, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, done by three students at the Joint Forces Staff College.

The paper says the organization lacks the "agility to quickly react" to an enemy, which develops new IEDs and tactics much faster than the United States can develop countermeasures.

JIEDDO -- whose budget from 2006 through fiscal 2008 totals more than $10 billion -- suffers from a problem discernible "to any undergraduate business major . . . . the larger an organization gets, the less agile it becomes," according to the paper, whose authors include Army Lt. Col. Richard Ellis, Air Force Maj. Richard Rogers and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Cochran.

The authors added that "not only is JIEDDO a large bureaucracy, it is built around a technical solution approach focused on research and development, testing and fielding the elusive 'silver bullet' to defeat IEDs. By doing so, the organization overly relies on technology to defeat an adaptive enemy who quickly learns how to overcome our latest countermeasures."

This dependence on fielding widgets, the paper said, immerses JIEDDO in the cumbersome Defense Department acquisition process, which further compounds the efforts to quickly field counter-IED systems.

Philip Coyle, senior adviser with the Center for Defense Information, a security policy research organization in Washington, agreed, and said JIEDDO was never supposed to become a large bureaucratic organization and it was never supposed to focus on technological "silver bullet" solutions.

Coyle, who served as assistant secretary of Defense and director of its operational test and evaluation office from 1994 to 2001, said, "This important point is made again and again in this paper and is absolutely correct."

The JIEDDO Fix?

According to the Joint Forces Staff College paper, JIEDDO needs a Defense-level acquisition strategy based on Regional Combatant Commander priorities and needs to develop strategic planning that at the moment "appears to be an afterthought, rather than a deliberate activity."

Coyle said JIEDDO also needs to move beyond "high-technology solutions, such as jamming, pre-detonation, and detection," and needs to focus on the "operational, logistics, and intelligence" to counter the IED threat.

The Joint Staff College paper recommends that JIEDDO could best accomplish its mission -- which is to counter weapons that account for well more than half of the combat deaths and wounds in Iraq -- by realigning it under a combatant commander, the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) , which among other things, has built-in strategic planning capabilities.

Putting JIEDDO under JFCOM also would provide the organization with the clout it lacks today in terms of acquisition and program execution. While the directive that established JIEDDO said the organization would "integrate all IED Defeat solutions throughout" Defense, the paper's authors said JIEDDO Director Montgomery Meigs lacks acquisition authority over traditional service programs. That means if he wants anything, he has to ask real nice.

The paper also said aligning JIEDDO under JFCOM would allow it to narrow its focus to its primary mission and "enable it to regain its ability to quickly react to changing terrorist tactics." JFCOM would handle intelligence, planning and training for the IED-defeat mission.

I don't know if this paper provides the ultimate fix for JIEDDO, but it could serve as the basis for reforming an organization that has indeed become too big for probably the most important mission in Defense.

I called the JIEDDO public affairs office for comments on the paper, but since these are the dog days of summer, I imagine they might be on holiday, as I have not heard back from them.

I hope that publication of the highlights of the Joint Forces Staff College paper does not result in bureaucratic ire against the authors. That's sometimes the response to field-grade officers who dare say that the emperor has no clothes, or that JIEDDO is too big for its mission.

A Defense Science Board Take on JIEDDO

Top levels of the Defense Department seem to be aware of problems with the JIEDDO elephant. This spring, Kenneth Krieg, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, convened a Defense Science Board IED Task Force to examine all relevant Defense activities "in the context of a strategic campaign to address the IED threat."

This task force, Krieg said, will develop IED strategic and operational plans that focus on, among other things, "creating an environment that fosters innovation, learning, agility and rapid response."

Maybe the task force should read the Joint Forces Staff College paper.

Fixing Cell-Tower Blame This Hurricane Season

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the peak hurricane season runs from August through October.

That's probably why the Federal Communications Commission issued an order that all cell phone carriers install backup power systems at their cell towers by Aug. 10 to provide eight hours of operation in case a storm knocks out the electrical grid.

Seems like a good idea, but CTIA-The Wireless Association requested a stay from the order until Oct. 9, or near the end of the peak hurricane season.

I don't know why CTIA asked for this stay, but if we have another Katrina and the cell phone system goes down again, you know who to blame.

Meanwhile, it looks like Northern Command should have lots of satellite systems ready to plug the commercial comm gaps this hurricane season due to lunacy by CTIA and its member companies, which include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. We can blame them, too.

A Whole Mess of Military Radios

Forecast International predicts the value of the global market for military radios at $12.5 billion over the next decade, illustrating that even in the Internet era, a technology that goes back to Marconi still has legs.

The long delayed and over budget Joint Tactical Radio System program will account for $3.4 billion of this total, Forecast International predicted, while the UK military is expected to buy 72,000 Bowman radios, which, like JTRS radios, get their smarts from software.

Forecast International estimated that demand for military radios worldwide over the next decade will total about 611,000 units, meaning there will be an equal demand for a large number of strong radio operator backs to tote them.

Good to know my old Marine MOS will not go away any time soon.

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