JIDA is no more, long live JIDO

The Defense Department group in charge of fighting improvised explosive devices entered its fourth incarnation last week. It’s been known as JIEDDO —the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization — for most of the past 10 years, though it started out as a humble Army task force. Lately it’s been the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency (JIDA), and now it will become the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO).

The latest reshuffling of the organizational chart is born out the current concerns among members of Congress that once DoD creates new bureaucracies they can never be shut down. The Pentagon’s earlier decision to turn the former JIEDDO into JIDA last summer raised alarm bells on Capitol Hill because it created a brand new member of the “fourth estate” — the combat-support agencies and field activities that lie outside the military departments, each with their own command structure and staffs.

Lawmakers objected to that in the 2016 defense authorization bill, telling DoD that they wanted to maintain the technical knowledge and agile acquisition authorities they’d given the former JIEDDO over the years, but ordering the Pentagon to do that without creating a new agency.

DoD’s response, effective last week, was to shut down JIDA and move its staff to a new lower-level organization that will report to the existing Defense Threat Reduction Agency by the end of September.

“Our core competencies have proven to be a mission enhancing capability that Congress and the Department want to retain, incorporate, and leverage in future endeavors to support the warfighter at the speed and scope of the modern battlefield,” Lt. Gen. Michael H. Shields, JIDA’s director, said in a statement. “The NDAA language does not change our scope, focus, customers, or mission. JIDA’s support to the combatant commands and deployed U.S. joint forces will continue unchanged.”

The counter-IED organization traces its roots to 2003, when the Army stood up a task force to deal with what turned out to be the biggest single threat to U.S. forces in Iraq, and later, in Afghanistan.

In 2006, DoD and Congress bestowed the former JIEDDO with rapid acquisition authorities and “colorless money” so that it could deploy new technologies to jam IEDs, train troops on how to find and avoid them and “disrupt” the networks that were planting them.

The new organization will maintain the same priorities, Ken Myers, DTRA’s director said in a statement.

“First and foremost, the Counter Improvised-Threat and the Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction missions will be preserved and enhanced under this transition. Both these missions are critical for the safety of the nation’s warfighters and to the national security of our country and that of our allies,” he said.

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