Sunday, June 25, 2006
Shooting flies with an elephant gun
IED's are deadly flies indeed, but the solution to the problem has become another feeding trough at the Pentagon with the needs of the troops taking second place. The Boston Globe reports on the growth of the Joint IED Defeat Organization from a rapid reaction task force to a large, cumbersome Pentagon bureaucracy.
A special military task force on improvised explosive devices -- launched in 2003 as a 12-person office to develop quick strategies for combating homemade bombs in Iraq -- has quietly expanded into a $3 billion-per-year arm of the Pentagon, with more than 300 employees and thousands of contract workers, according to Pentagon data analyzed by the Globe.Do they give medals for heroic bureacratic warriors and empire builders?
The growth comes amid complaints within the military that the group's emphasis on high-tech solutions -- mainly through big contracts to traditional defense companies -- has not succeeded in stemming the number of attacks.
The expansion of the task force from a small, quick-moving unit intended to bring creative thinking to the IED threat into a larger Pentagon department recently caught the eye of Congress. The House passed a bill earlier this month seeking to know the precise number of employees, where they work, and how much money is being spent on administrative overhead. The bill is pending in the Senate.
But concerns about the task force go beyond the size of its bureaucracy and its funding, which has mostly come out of the Pentagon's emergency war budget.
General John Abizaid , the head of US military forces in the Middle East, recently complained to members of the IED group that its emphasis on multimillion-dollar contracts to develop high-tech sensing equipment has been ineffective at curbing attacks by homemade bombs, according to a person who was present.
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