The organization established to find ways of spotting and disposing of roadside bombs and other improvised explosives has been downsized and renamed, a restructuring that was done in parallel with the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq and de-escalation in Afghanistan.
The Defense Department unit formerly known as the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) on July 13 was formally renamed the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency. It becomes the Defense Department’s newest agency and will broaden its role from focusing on defeating improvised explosives to countering “improvised threats,” according to an statement announcing the shift and renaming.
“Over the past year we have made great strides across the department to ensure the capabilities JIEDDO brought to the table will endure through JIDA and complementary to missions where our business model ought to be applied,” said Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, JIDA’s director. “While we have changed our name and expanded our mission, the transition should be seamless to the warfighters we support daily. We are in the business of helping warfighters adapt.”
Johnson took the helm at JIEDDO in late 2013 with a directive to downsize the organization from a wartime strength of around 3,000 employees to under 1,000– perhaps as few as 400–while preserving its institutional knowledge and transactional authority to purchase and rapidly field counter-IED technologies. JIDA spokesman David Small said the agency had drawn down to about 400 government and military personnel, about 1,000 total employees including contractors.
Before being renamed, the organization was relocated from a multi-story building in Arlington, Va.’s Crystal City where it was nestled with many of the defense contractors with which it regularly did business. JIDA is now located in Reston, Va.
JIEDDO was established in 2006 as IEDs were taking a massive toll on U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq. It became a permanent unit formed from a task force set up to study IEDs and technologies that would help located, identify and disable or destroy them before they detonated. The organization sent representatives to combat zones to solicit feedback on required capabilities from frontline troops, then used its transactional authority to circumnavigate the Byzantine Pentagon acquisition process to rapidly find and field counter-IED technologies.
In March, DoD announced JIEDDO’s transition from a Defense Department “activity” to a defense agency under the authority, direction, and control of undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall.
JIDA will retain that “tactical responsiveness and anticipatory acquisition in support of combatant commanders’ efforts to prepare for, and adapt to, battlefield surprise in support of counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and other related mission areas including counter-improvised explosive device,” the statement said.
“The new name recognizes the need to sustain efforts to enable the defeat of improvised threats globally, and to further enable U.S. forces’ preparation to counter such threats when they arise,” JIDA said. The name preserves JIEDDO’s warfighter-recognized brand, sustains its purpose to rapidly provide capabilities to a joint force, and informs a proactive, threat-defeat approach.”