Great Expectations

By Sebastian Sprenger / December 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The formation of a Defense Department-wide task force on improvised explosive devices last month suggests there is still sand in the wheels of the counter-IED bureaucracy.

We asked Kenneth Comer, the new deputy director for intelligence in the Joint IED Defeat Organization, what he thinks the move means, aside from the high-level talk of "breaking down stovepipes" within DOD, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates has put it.

The task force was set up "because JIEDDO does not have all of the authority or oversight or coordination capability over all of the things that are done in countering IEDs," Comer said.

"We don't make MRAPs, for example," he added, using the acronym for the blast-proof trucks. Another example of limited "oversight" on JIEDDO's part, he added, is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- both in terms of the ISR Task Force as an organization and ISR goings-on in general.

Maybe -- and that's a big maybe -- the new task force could lead to new "authorities" for JIEDDO in the area of social network analysis, the secretive craft aimed at understanding the inner dynamics of extremist networks, according to Comer.

"Vehicle armor, ISR task force, ISR in general, social networks and social dynamics and non-kinetic measures, and having JIEDDO at least having more of a coordinating role with any or all of those would be something that will be open to discussion," he said.