JIEDDO director discusses mission, counter-IED tactics, future beyond 2014

WASHINGTON, OCT. 17, 2012 – The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization has two goals in mind as the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 approaches, JIEDDO director Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero said Wednesday addressing a group of defense analysts, academics and diplomats.

“Two years from now as we transition, I would like to say first that we were effective in limiting the IED-related casualties in Afghanistan,” he said. “And second, that we have institutionalized the right capabilities in the right way to allow us to meet this enduring threat,” not only in Afghanistan but throughout the world.

Since January 2011, there have been more than 10,000 global IED events occurring in more than 112 countries executed by about 40 regional or transnational threat networks, Barbero said at the event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a non partisan institution in Washington devoted to promoting transatlantic cooperation and international security.

Outside of Afghanistan, Pakistan had the highest number of IED incidents in September. Its 100 incidents were closely followed by Colombia’s 67, India’s 54 and Somalia’s and Syria’s 19 each, he said.

The IED is the artillery of the 21st century, and the battlefield can occur anywhere and at anytime, he said. It can be a marketplace frequented by residents just as easily as it can be an isolated road where only military convoys travel. Opponents on this battlefield represent a threat network continuum that includes criminals, narcotics smugglers, insurgents and terrorists.

In Afghanistan, which holds JIEDDO’s current focus, there has been an increase in IED attacks — up 52 percent from last year — as coalition forces transfer operational responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces, Barbero said.

Although the percentage of attacks has increased, the number of overall IED events in Afghanistan has steadily declined since June 2012, which was the highest month ever, he said.

When the bomb makers change the recipe of the IEDs, Barbero said JIEDDO quickly adapts as well, and finds or develops new technologies that are able to combat such new threats. An example is the current use of ultrathin wires and non-metal pressure plates in IEDs.

“The most important word in our mission is “rapidly.” That is why we exist,” Barbero said.

This one simple adjective has so much significance to the organization’s mission and adaptability, he said. “Rapidly” applies to mission-critical actions such as researching, financing and fielding counter-IED tools for the ever-changing IED battlefield.

To aid JIEDDO in this quest, the Department of Defense entrusts Barbero with the authority to purchase counter-IED tools and training materials that cost $25 million or less. For anything more than $25 million, JIEDDO quickly seeks special permission from Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter. An example of this unique spending authority is how JIEDDO financed and fielded 210,000 pelvic protection units to troops in Afghanistan within a three-month period in 2011. A second example was the quantity of handheld IED devices JIEDDO acquired and distributed to military training bases such as Camp Lejeune, N.C., for pre-deployment training purposes, he said.

However, even with this special authority, JIEDDO cannot defeat the IED threat alone.

“It takes a network to defeat a network,” Barbero said.

As the DODs lead on counter-IED initiatives, JIEDDO has partnered with the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Commerce and Trade, as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials.

Just as JIEDDO and its partners are collaborating and sharing research, funding and training, so are the threat networks.

The interaction between dispersed threat networks is enabled by the latest information technology, which provides them a platform for recruiting, fundraising, training, information exchanges and social interaction, he said. Their centers of excellence and collections of best practices are open 24-hours a day and shared around the world. They have even developed online tools such as instructional videos, interactive subject matter expert forums and lessons-learned studies to enable and inspire others regardless of their location or experience level.

Because of their flat, dispersed and unencumbered networks, IED tactics and techniques used by insurgents are increasing in sophistication and proliferating globally.

He identified a main difference between warfighters and those in the threat network.

“Whereas in the U.S. military we march to the sound of guns, these threat networks march to the signs of instability and take the IED with them,” he said.

Because instability is universal, JIEDDO monitors global IED attacks daily so it can quickly respond with counter-IED strategies, he said. These include handheld IED detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, robots and biometric technologies among other capabilities.

Biometrics, which are technologies that measure and analyze characteristics such as DNA, fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements, is a vital component of JIEDDO’s “attack the network” line of operation.

“Biometrics are critical,” he said. “We can remove the greatest defense of these groups, which is their anonymity.”

When bomb technicians collect any forensic evidence such as a fingerprint or DNA from an IED or post-blast scene, it is put into a database. That information can then be used to link someone back to a crime or an attack. One example is when the biometric evidence, collected by U.S. forces in Iraq, helped the FBI link two immigrants in Kentucky to terrorist attacks in Iraq.

Barbero said that as long as the threats endure, JIEDDO and its partners must provide enduring capabilities. Some must-have capabilities for the future include:
Institutionalizing counter-IED training
Retaining a whole-of-government approach
Acquiring financial intelligence that follows the flow of money to threat networks
As the U.S. is slated to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014, people ask Barbero what is to become of his operationally funded organization.

He responded, “That’s not the right question. The question is … will there be an enduring threat in the future.”

Barbero said that IEDs are here to stay.

“A joint response is the best approach for threats such as IEDs,” he said. “There needs to be a joint organization tied in with a global perspective.”

Whether the IED threat is in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or elsewhere, JIEDDO and its partners “have to do better” to reduce the incidents and deaths, he said.

There is no “silver bullet” that will stop these casualty-producing devices on the battlefields in Afghanistan or at home, Barbero said. However, JIEDDO remains singularly focused on providing rapid counter-IED capabilities to mitigate the enduring threat from IEDs and their networks

PENCARI – Offensive Exploitation Training for Contemporary Operations

“The ‘color change’ was obvious, the ‘regularity’ more subtle. A change in the Operators position, placing the ‘Sign’[1] between himself and the sun increased the amount of ‘contained shadow’ created by the ‘emplacers’ footwear. Another shift of position and the disturbed soil created by the burying of the pressure plate was clear to see. Within seconds the Ground Penetrating Radar confirmed the presence of a low metal content Improvised Explosive Device (IED)”.


CIED Sign Awareness ( CIED SA) is a derivative of Combat Tracking – the ability to actively follow and pursue a Quarry or Target in order to gain information or close with and interdict! It has enhanced the ability of both military and law enforcement personnel to identify the visual and in some instances non visual (scent, audio even ‘6th sense) ‘action indicators’ associated to/with an IED placement. Fused with the considerable technological advances made in detection and surveillance equipment over the last eleven years it is now proven to increase both our Military and our Law Enforcement Officers survivability by 70-80%!

So, are CIED Sign Awareness and Combat Tracking (CT) purely a defensive ‘Force Protection’ capability therefore only suited to the realms of a ‘Defeat the Device’ concept? Or is there scope to offensively utilise CT as an Information Exploitation (IX) asset enabling active Follow and Pursuit style operations and therefore truly ‘Attacking the Network’, whatever that ‘Network’ may be? PENCARI[2] have been working towards a fresh and updated version of what is widely termed ‘Awareness Training’, and have actively encouraged the fusing of technology to enhance what is ultimately a low level yet undeniably crucial tactical skill-set.

The PENCARI Combat Tracking Information Exploitation or CTIX as it is more widely known, is successful in ‘Training the Force’ to both identify and subsequently exploit any area of insurgent or criminal activity including IED, Ambush Sites, LUP’s and Distribution Points (to name a few). CTIX is multi faceted and works hand in hand with technology such as Ground Penetrating Radar, C-IED Metal detectors, UAV’s and other ISTAR[3] assets such as handheld and vehicle mounted optics, cameras and even thermal devices. It is not however reliant on any of this technology for its successful application and therefore does not add additional weight to the Operator (Military or Law Enforcer) in the form of extra equipment. CTIX is enhanced training and knowledge that weighs nothing yet delivers a punch in the form of valuable ‘immediate use intelligence’ negating any sacrifice for speed of manoeuvre, imperative to our already over burdened and heavily laden troops.


CTIX is suitable for all environments and weather conditions, not every ISTAR asset can make this claim. Climatic and geographic problems such as cloud cover or triple canopy rainforest is not susceptible to Satellite or UAS penetration. In a close country tropical environment Combat Trackers can and will be a primary source of intelligence along with both HUMINT[4] and EW[5]. After listening to our clients needs, PENCARI have enhanced their training adding fresh impetus and focus on ‘mobile IX’ training. Looking for and positively identifying Sign from an elevated position while moving at speed is very different to that of a foot patrol or an EOD Operator making a slow and methodical approach towards an IED.

The multi environment approach to PENCARI’s training recognises that future contingency style operations may take our forces into the jungles of West Africa or the arid desert regions of the Sub Sahara. With current and future conflicts revolving around and at times entering into population centres the urban environment is not forgotten. A portion of each CTIX is dedicated to operating within this hazardous environment, factoring on both Force Protection and Information Exploitation alike.

The Law Enforcement and the Commercial Security Sector, especially the Oil and Gas industry recognise CTIX as a valuable force multiplier. The US Border Patrol have employed Tracking and various exploitation techniques successfully for many years both as a means of identifying cross border incursions and also along with other assets, to actively pursue and interdict illegals. The UK Police and other European based Forensic Agencies are increasingly using the skills associated with the CTIX to prevent and decrease the escalation of metal theft from critical infrastructure such as the National Rail Networks and critical communication hubs.

“The Tracker moved stealthily along the ‘trackline’, every few feet confirming his quarries ‘Sign’. He could clearly identify where the emplacer had squatted, while resting and smoked a cigarette, the sign was becoming fresher, they were gaining on this guy and he didn’t even know it! Now that the insurgent’s direction was established additional assets were being brought to bear on his path of flight. A UAV was already flying along the search ‘cone’. The real-time video feed linked back to an Operations Room ready to launch an interdiction force, by vehicle or aviation means. For the CTIX trained operators the result was inevitable……”

[1] Sign – Any evidence of change to the natural environment created by Man, Animal or Machinery.

[2] PENCARI – meaning ‘Seeker or Searcher’ in Bahasa Malay, many of PENCARI’s Instructors are ex UK and UKSF Instructors who taught at the UK Military’s Combat Tracking School based in Brunei, SE Asia.

[3] ISTAR – Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.

[4] HUMINT – Human Intelligence.

[5] EW – Electronic Warfare.

PENCARI deliver bespoke training solutions to both Military and Law Enforcement professionals ‘worldwide’. For further information concerning the CTIX and other training contact PENCARI Defence and Security at: info@pencari-training.com  or alternatively visit their website: www.pencari-training.com

P.I.G. Saddle from Shadow Tech LLC

Another great addition from our friends at Shadow Tech. These guys also brought us the PIG Saddle’s big brother, the HOG Saddle.


Shadow Tech, LLC describes their P.I.G. (Professionally Instructed Gunman) Saddle as the AK-47 version of their popular HOG Saddle, in that it’s just as durable and reliable as its older brother, but at roughly a third of the cost. It’s constructed from steel with superior corrosion resistance and uses UV resistant pads – specifically engineered to absorb rifle recoil and reduce muzzle jump. The heavy duty torque knob is made from polymer and the P.I.G. features steel 1/4-20 mounting threads and 3/8-16 back up threads.

SPUHR AB Adaptable NVG Mount


Spuhr AB’s NVG Mount was developed around the idea to give the operator full flexibility of mono, dual, and firearms mounted NVDs along with the ability to transition between those options in a few seconds. The mount can easily be adjusted for tilt, eye width, and/or eye-relief. For individuals who prefer to have their right-eye monocular mounted to their firearm, the monocular can be securely moved from the mount to the firearm and back again. The quick interface and adjustment memory allows the user to transfer the whole system, including goggles, from helmet to head and back if the situation warrants it. The entire system is also designed for quick and secure mounting, which is useful for those who like to parachute with clean helmets during descent. The NVG Mount is ideally used with the Insight MUM-14 or Vectronix TARSIUS16, although other NVDs can easily be mounted to the device as well.

Spuhr AB Mount 2


L3-Warrior Systems Insight – LWTS


Soldier Systems article – The LWTS – Light Weapon Thermal Sight – is the latest thermal weapon sight from L-3 Insight Technology. It features a 640×480 17 micron uncooled micro bolometer with a 30 hertz refresh rate, compared to 340×240 found in older models. The LWTS is video capable with an output jack. It has an integrated shutter and non-uniformity calibration. Four integrated reticle patterns are boresightable to better than 1 MOA. It’s capable of 2x digital zoom, with adjustment for white or black hot thermal and contrast and saturation adjustment. The LWTS is powered by four AA batteries and is compatible with ACOG and Close Combat Optics.




Technology Does Not Guarantee Success

An interesting article from Benjamin Runkle discussing the balance required between high and low tech approaches on the Battlefield. Ignore the low Tech at your peril! We recognize that high tech can give you an advantage however, don’t become over reliant on it, because it will let you down and when it does, your people need to have had the training to mitigate its need.



Ten Tips to Enhanced Operational Effectiveness – Part 1

Part One……I’ve been training professionals for over 20 years and throughout that time I have reached the conclusion that what individuals, teams and “Units” want more than anything is a training solution that offers them an enhanced capability. A capability that will allow them to function and therefore operate more efficiently! They don’t ask me to lighten their loads, offer them an “easy” way to achieve their mission or even a way that will allow them additional time with their family and loved ones…although that last one would be pretty neat! What they want is a skill-set, gem of knowledge, way or path to make them even better at what they do! Well here it is, and you’ll be pleased to hear, there is no magic involved…..Do the “Basics” well, all the time, every time whether you’re deploying on a mission or just on to a training exercise!


Major Dean A Williams MBE, Royal Marines Commandos (Ret)

In no particular order 5 paths (5 more to follow) that, if practiced regularly will improve and enhance your operational effectiveness:

1. Never smoke, when deployed on operations or in the field…ever! I don’t wish to sound like an anti smoking Nazi but when it comes to risking your own and more importantly your team members lives for the sake of a short nicotine high, don’t do it! The smell of tobacco smoke is prevalent, it can be smelt from incredible distances and permeates the clothing and equipment of both the smoker and those around.  In some instances its possible to smell cigarette smoke over 300 metres (1000 feet) away! Don’t even chew tobacco, don’t be reliant on anything that you are not likely to be resupplied with….I once Tracked a team of Gurkha’s through the jungles of Borneo for 4 days and was able to identify the individual soldiers who chewed “Kani” (a type of chewing tobacco mixed with lime) from the “Discardable” that was their spit! It allowed me to identify their individual positions within that particular patrol.


Fig 1. Combat Tracking Team closing in on our Quarry/Target in the Jungles of Borneo

2. Carriage of weapon systems, even when “only” on field exercise, carry your weapon system as if you are actually planning to use it! Patrol everywhere, ensuring your muzzle points where you are looking! By adhering to the correct carriage of your weapon at all times the weapon becomes a natural extension of your body. Everybody now uses a weapon sling of some sort. Slings, apart from on the Support Weapon (GPMG or M240B), used to be frowned upon, as what was the point of carrying a weapon if it was slung!  We now know that the sling offers us a multi-functional system and enables us to keep our weapon system close while using our hands for other needs. This doesn’t mean that you use the sling ALL the time! Remember short range opportunity targets are just that and your weapon system is next to useless if you are unable to bring it to bear, in what may be a “fraction” of a second.

Low Port

Fig 2. Low Port carriage of weapon system everywhere you look your muzzle points. Note: Pace Counter fitted to weapon stock.

3. Use Hand Signals, substitute talking for hand signals, too often I see personnel, even operators who are totally reliant on their Personal Role Radios (PRR’s). These systems are used as a “chat net” minimizing the audio senses of all and effectively giving your position away through noise. These comms systems can certainly offer us an advantage however, we have become super reliant on them – batteries run out and even the best equipment fails in harsh environments – through my experience most PRR’s I know last a maximum of anywhere between 12-24 hours in either a tropical (humidity) or cold weather environment. Remember when issuing a hand signal use the non-dominant hand – I can’t tell you how many “training” videos I see that show “operators” removing their dominant hand from their weapon in order to deliver a hand signal!

Hand Signals

Fig 3 Hand Signals with the non dominant hand

4. Wet and Dry Routine. Sustainment of your body along with your weapon and equipment is crucial to operational success. It doesn’t matter if you’re planning to operate in a temperate or tropical environment by preserving your body and your well being you will be capable of operating for sustained periods and functioning more effectively. We have become used to “short” 24 to 72 hour operations, with the potential to return to a Forward Operating Base (FOB) and if not a shower, then certainly get some down time too reorganise our kit! Well this may well be a luxury that isn’t afforded to you on contemporary and future operations. You may well be expected to operate for extended periods with little or no resupply something that our SoF community should be used to! Always maintain one set of dry clothing, sleep in it but come time to move off, pack that set away and place that rain or sweat soaked, cold and wet set of BDU’s back on – it certainly isn’t the most enjoyable part of the day, but it will ensure that your body recovers more efficiently and you achieve a more restful few hours in the sack!

Wet & Dry

Fig 4. Maintain at least one set of dry clothing to maintain efficiency

5. Leaders – As General Norman Schwarzkopf once said “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do, the hard part is doing it”  Leaders should do just that – lead; not everyone needs to be your friend, this means enforcing the “Basics” rigorously every time you deploy on operations or even on a training exercise. Better to bring every member of your team back than to lose a “friend”! You have all heard the old adage time and again “Train Hard and Fight Easy”, I prefer the adage “Train hard and fight hard”, as there is truly no “easy” fight.

Dean Williams is the Founding Director of PENCARI Training. Having spent 26 years serving in the British Royal Marine Commandos in a myriad of specialist units, serving at every rank from Marine to Major and with experience in the commercial training sector, he is the visionary behind PENCARI’s development. In 2011 he was granted entrance as an Ordinary Member of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The award was for his work in delivering life saving Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) Sign Awareness and Combat Tracking training.

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