Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Joint IED Defeat Organization

Washington, D.C. – Today, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) and Ranking Member Rob Wittman (R-Va.) convened a hearing to examine the performance and oversight of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are the number one killer of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2004, JIEDDO was chartered to “focus (lead, advocate, coordinate) all Department of Defense actions” in the fight against IEDs. Over the course of JIEDDO’s evolution from a small Army task force to a 3600-person DOD organization, the U.S. government has spent almost $17 billion trying to keep up with this ever-changing threat.  Today’s hearing, which follows a hearing held in September 2008, sought to explore whether DOD’s own oversight has kept pace with rising casualties and JIEDDO’s considerable budget. Is DOD winning the fight against IEDs, is it spending this money wisely, and is its oversight over JIEDDO sufficient for an organization of its size and complexity?

During the hearing, Chairman Snyder remarked, “There’s no doubt that… JIEDDO has made significant contributions to the counter-IED effort,…but what’s concerned this subcommittee for the last 18 months…is that the people on the ground are not yet satisfied despite all of your efforts.”   After the hearing, Snyder said, “We’re asking about the processes of government because we suspect that some of these may be hindering success, but that success is ultimately about helping people stay alive while they are pursuing the national security objectives of the nation.”

Ranking Member Wittman said, “After joining Lieutenant General Metz and General Dempsey at the ‘Joint Training Counter-IED Operations Integration Center’ earlier this year, I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the contributions of JIEDDO in depth this morning. IED’s remain the number one cause of casualties in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and JIEDDO is integral in ensuring that our service members are able to continue to counter and defeat these deadly devices. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will continue to come home safely because of the work accomplished by joint organizations such as JIEDDO.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included:  Dr. James A. Schear, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations; Lieutenant General Thomas F. Metz (USA), Director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO); and Mr. William Solis, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management, Government Accountability Office. LTG Metz and Dr. Schear testified to JIEDDO’s success against IEDs and JIEDDO’s efforts to improve internal controls over research and acquisitions. GAO testified to its recently completed study on DOD’s coordination of counter IED efforts.

The House Armed Services Committee will continue to provide extensive oversight of the counter-IED fight as the President makes his decisions about the nation’s interagency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Americans, as well as this country’s partners, are at risk from this threat.