Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices:

Most Initiatives Supported by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization Have Limited Applicability to Humanitarian Demining

GAO-11-578R: Published: May 20, 2011. Publicly Released: May 20, 2011.

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Landmines and other explosive remnants of war cause thousands of casualties worldwide each year. Since 1993, the United States--through the Department of State's (State) Humanitarian Mine Action Program--has contributed funding to more than 80 countries, providing tens of millions of dollars annually to rid the world of landmines and other explosive remnants of war. In 2006, to address the counter-improvised explosive device (IED) threat against U.S. military forces, the Department of Defense (DOD) established the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Through fiscal year 2010, Congress has appropriated more than $17 billion to JIEDDO to quickly develop and field counter-IED solutions. In the committee report accompanying the House of Representatives' version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2011, the House Armed Services Committee directed that we review the applicability of JIEDDO initiatives to humanitarian demining efforts. To respond to the requirements of this mandate, we addressed the following questions: (1) What JIEDDO-supported technologies have DOD identified that could be applicable to humanitarian demining? and (2) To what extent does coordination occur (a) within DOD and (b) between DOD and State regarding JIEDDO-supported technologies that could be applicable to humanitarian demining?

DOD reviewed 150 JIEDDO-supported technologies and identified 6 that could potentially be applicable to humanitarian demining. However, 4 of the 6 technologies identified by DOD either duplicated those already being used or, because of technical issues, were not suitable for use in humanitarian demining. DOD plans to further review the other two technologies for possible use in humanitarian demining. In general, inherent differences between counter-IED and humanitarian demining operations limit the extent to which JIEDDO-supported technologies can be used in humanitarian demining. For example, in counter-IED operations, DOD's mission is to clear the affected area only to the extent that forces can mobilize safely. In humanitarian demining operations, the purpose is to clear the affected area of all (100 percent) landmines and other explosive remnants of war so that it can be used for civilian purposes, such as farming. Coordination mechanisms exist within DOD and between DOD and State regarding their efforts to determine whether JIEDDO-supported technologies could be applicable to humanitarian demining. Within DOD, the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense/Special Operations Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities/Stability Operations Capabilities (SOLIC) and the Humanitarian Demining Research & Development Program (HD R&D) use both formal and informal mechanisms to coordinate with other DOD offices about which off-the-shelf technologies are being developed or supported by JIEDDO that might be applicable to humanitarian demining. These mechanisms include attendance at weekly JIEDDO board meetings, participation in the Unexploded Ordnance Center of Excellence (UXOCOE) annual Resources Managers Meeting, and communication with DOD offices through e-mails and phone calls. To coordinate which off-the-shelf or JIEDDO-supported technologies might be applicable to humanitarian demining, DOD and State use informal coordination mechanisms--e.g., participation in the HD R&D Biennial Requirements Workshop and communication through e-mails and phone calls. Given the extent to which DOD and State regularly communicate, coupled with the limited applicability of counter- IED technologies to humanitarian demining, the level of coordination within DOD and between DOD and State appears to be adequate for identifying technologies applicable to humanitarian demining. We are not making recommendations in this report.

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