To-Do List

By Sebastian Sprenger / October 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, the outgoing director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, yesterday told reporters a bit about how a few general IED-related topics are treated in the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review.

"Build and plan for institutionalized counter-IED capabilities" -- that's one of three goals listed on a briefing slide presented by the general. The term-of-art "institutionalization" has long been a favourite of defense leaders in that context.

The goal of increasing "partner capacity" and information sharing also made the QDR list. With billions spent, the United States is perhaps the best equipped among the coalition forces in Afghanistan when it comes to countering makeshift bombs. But what about the rest of NATO troops and Afghan security forces?

While JIEDDO can offer training to others, organization officials lack the legal authorities to give their international brothers-in-arms actual equipment, Metz said. He steered clear of saying whether he sees this as an impediment, noting U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus would to have be the one initiating any change.

"I'm not in the business of spending any funds given to me by Congress on anything other than U.S. forces," Metz said.

Finally, another goal in the QDR is to "ensure counter-IED is part of the cultural fabric of DOD," the briefing reads. "I believe we are in the counter-IED fight for years, for decades," Metz said.

In Afghanistan, IEDs now account for 70 to 80 percent of coalition casualties, he noted.