Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I spent yesterday (3/5/2012) at a JIEDDO workshop that was both fascinating and depressing. The Joint IED Defeat Organization workshop was aimed at soliciting ideas and technologies for detecting and defeating improvised explosive devices. We were addressed by both the JIEDDO director, LTG Barbero, and US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). A brief report on the meeting is here.

Some observations

  • Although IEDs are currently the munition of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq, they are being used all over the world and are expected to be a significant homeland threat to the US in the 21st century.
  • A very effective IED can be built using readily available materials that cost next to nothing (principle cost is maybe $4 in fertilizer). A principle challenge is that all of the materials have legitimate uses in society, so outlawing the building blocks is impossible.
  • Triggers and switches can be made out of anything - you can literally use trash
  • Detecting and defeating these devices is a nightmare. They are easy to conceal and can be constructed with only a modicum of metal.
  • Instructions for building and deploying these weapons are shared between combatants online using various forms of social media. Construction is sufficiently simple that illiterate farmers can get very good at creating and innovating them.
So, not sure what to make of all that other than it was pretty depressing. I was pleased with the caliber of the people leading the fight against this type of weapon - they have the right people and the best possible counter strategy. But holy cow, we have our work cut out for us...
IED trigger made of two parallel wooden plates. When someone steps on (or drives over) the plates, they bend causing two metal contacts to touch and trigger the explosives.

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