Pete Cary and Nancy Youssef from the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy Newspapers have done a great job in exposing the waste and stupidity surrounding the $17 billion scandal that is the American military's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation.
Their article, JIEDDO: The Manhattan Project that bombed, traces the history of an organisation that grew in just five years from a 12-person Army anti-homemade bomb task force into a 1,900-person behemoth aiming to find a way of stopping IEDs. Yet despite spending billions, the rate of which soldiers are able to find IEDs before they explode has remained static at roughly 50 per cent since JIEDDO was formed.
Todd Bowers a marine who had served in Afghanistan in 2009, told the investigators the only IED detectors supplied to his unit were hand-held devices similar to those used by beachcombers: "I remember thinking, 'Here I am sitting in this quarter-million dollar armed vehicle and we're still out there searching for pennies on the beach," said Bowers, who is now deputy staff director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Other soldiers told the investigators that sniffer dogs supplied to troops were not trained to react to ammonium nitrate, the main component of IEDs in southern Afghanistan.
According to the report: "JIEDDO investigated 857 new technologies for countering actual IED devices in 2006, started work on 282 of them, eventually fielding 52. To attack bomb-making networks, it looked at 182 new technologies and fielded 21; it considered 42 new training technologies and fielded 9 of them. By the end of 2010, JIEDDO says, it had invested in approximately 1,000 counter-IED initiatives, of which 219 had been approved to be taken over by the military services or commands."
One of the CIF comments left by a reader below the article by a Mr Ronald Allen, says it all: "My associates and I have been trying for two years to get a common sense IED detector dog program funded through JIEDDO without a final UP or DOWN decision yet! No wonder nothing gets accomplished." Except a lot of big defence corporations got a lot of money for old rope.