Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, roughly half of all our casualties have been caused by IEDs, and the military has recognized that this is a threat that we well be facing long into the future. It has spent enormous sums of money trying to find technical means of detecting and defeating IEDs. High tech is something the US is good at, so we tend to like to take a high tech approach to most problems. That’s much of what the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization has been trying to do. But the problem with that is that IEDs are almost by definition somewhat low tech. And that means that the most effective counter is going to be somewhat low tech as well. The human eyeball is still the most dangerous sensor on the battlefield.
Of the 909 NATO military personnel killed in 2009 and this year, 540 died from IED attacks, according to the monitoring group icasualties.org.
Mr. Hunter became so frustrated by the lack of the task force’s counter-IED assets in Afghanistan that he wrote to Gen. Petraeus as he took command in July.
“Regrettably, unlike Iraq, our forces in Afghanistan seem to lack a clear and coherent counter-IED strategy to combat this threat,” Mr. Hunter wrote. “We firmly believe that the lessons learned from Task Force ODIN in Iraq can be replicated in Afghanistan, dramatically reducing the rate of casualties due to IEDs. … Simply put, Task Force ODIN currently in place in Afghanistan is not the Task Force ODIN that was extremely successful in Iraq.”
Iraq and Afghanistan are different theaters, and what works in one won’t always work in another. But there is simply no excuse to not even attempt to duplicate success.
Go read the whole thing.
And the New York Times had an embedded reporter covering this issue as well: