By Karen Parrish
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2015 – Improvised explosive devices have been a rapidly evolving and deadly menace in many parts of the world as terrorists employ these homemade bombs against military forces and civilian populations.
U.S. leaders created the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, to counter that threat. As Defense Department strategy and resources shift from previous wars to focus on future missions, the Defense Department has begun to transition JIEDDO’s role and capabilities to the office of acquisition, technology and logistics.
Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, paid a visit yesterday to JIEDDO’s headquarters at the Pentagon to talk about what that move will mean for the agency’s employees.
Supporting the Warfighter
“There was a lot of concern before the ISIL threat emerged that we were going to atrophy the capabilities we built up through the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Kendall said during a speech to the workforce. “That’s a skill set we don’t want to lose.”
The undersecretary noted that the U.S. will work to suppress ISIL and other extremist groups, but that those groups are not going to disappear
“We are going to have to deal with these people whose weapon of choice is going to be improvised weapons of various types -- nontraditional fighting -- that is something you have been doing well for an extremely long time, and we are going to need you,” he said.
Employing System Capabilities
Kendall added that relocating the counter-IED organization within the defense acquisition, technology and logistics sector “was a natural solution.”
Finding, buying and employing technologies to protect from IEDs “very close to the operators” is a large part of what JIEDDO, now a new defense agency, does, he said.
“You do a lot of [research and development], you do a lot of fielding, you do a lot of the requiring,” Kendall said.
The new defense agency can access DoD’s joint rapid acquisition cell to help in its mission, he noted, pledging “full and complete support” in that mission.
Kendall said his directorate also offers support functions such as system engineering, development and testing, contracting and others to aid the new agency.
Kendall told the workforce that DoD has adopted some of the rapid acquisition practices JIEDDO pioneered.
“JIEDDO’s close engagement with its operational force customers and with the intelligence community makes it a model for innovation and agility in defense acquisition,” the undersecretary said.
An example he cited was the agency’s use of challenge-based acquisition to quickly find solutions, a practice cited by the White House as examples in innovative acquisition methods promoting effective competition.
“One important message: you’re here to stay,” Kendall said. “We need you. The country needs you.”