WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, today called on the Defense Department to increase coordination of efforts to protect our troops from IEDs. A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) raised concerns about duplication and inefficiencies in the program.
“I write today to express concern about the apparent lack of coordination and unnecessary duplication in efforts to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) highlighted in this week’s Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report,” said Senator Casey. “As you know, I have led an effort in the Senate to raise awareness of the threat posed by ammonium nitrate and other precursor chemicals used in IEDs, and I share your commitment to getting our IED policy right. In light of this report, however, I would like to know what changes DOD is prepared to make to ensure a unity of effort on developing and deploying counter-IED solutions.”
To protect our troops in Afghanistan, Senator Casey has been the Senate’s leader to increase international pressure to stop the flow of ammonium nitrate, a prime component in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that have killed or wounded thousands of troops and civilians. Senator Casey is also working with the Department of Defense and State Department to make sure they have the tools they need to stop the IED assembly line.
Senator Casey has raised additional steps that must be taken to cut off the flow of ammonium nitrate from Pakistan with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Michael Mullen and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry.
The Senate passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senator Casey calling for increased support to combat ammonium nitrate -- a primary explosive material used in IEDs in Afghanistan.
In November 2010, Senator Casey chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Committee entitled “Jamming the IED Assembly Line: Impeding the Flow of Ammonium Nitrate in South and Central Asia” to examine steps to combat IEDs that target our troops.
A copy of the letter is below.
March 03, 2011
Dear Secretary Gates:
I write today to express concern about the apparent lack of coordination and unnecessary duplication in efforts to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) highlighted in this week’s Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report (GAO-11-318SP). In light of the troubling findings included in this report, I respectfully request that you provide your assessment of how OSD, the Services and the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) can better coordinate on counter-IED programs for the benefit of our warfighters.
The report outlines several instances in which a lack of coordination between JIEDDO and the Services has led to working at cross purposes and duplication of technologies. GAO concluded that redundancy of efforts occur because neither JIEDDO nor OSD has “full visibility over all of DOD’s counter-IED efforts.” It is my understanding that DOD has taken steps to address this issue by establishing the Technology Matrix, a comprehensive list of all counter-IED efforts and sponsoring organizations. While I applaud DOD’s focus on achieving visibility of efforts, it is disconcerting to hear that the Services and counter-IED offices are not using this database nor inputting their projects. Without their participation, this database lacks the information needed to make it effective. GAO also indicated that structural impediments contribute to JIEDDO’s inability to fulfill its mission – to lead and coordinate all counter-IED efforts in the department.
As you know, I have led an effort in the Senate to raise awareness of the threat posed by ammonium nitrate and other precursor chemicals used in IEDs and I share your commitment to getting our IED policy right. In light of this report, however, I would like to know what changes DOD is prepared to make to ensure a unity of effort on developing and deploying counter-IED solutions. In particular, I request that the Pentagon provide detailed answers to the following questions:
o Is DOD willing to require the use of the Technology Matrix?
o What actions will DOD take to limit duplication and fragmentation of our counter-IED efforts?
o How will DOD ensure that each Service and office is making investments that are consistent with the nation’s overall counter-IED policy?
o If you disagree with GAO’s recommendations, what further steps do you believe need to be taken to ensure the visibility of counter-IED effort?
Thank you for your continued leadership in combating IEDs. Since its inception, JIEDDO has made substantial progress in making the battlespace safer for our servicemembers. I look forward to working with you to ensure maximum coordination within the DOD and across the USG to further diminish this threat.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senate