WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's war-time office set up to counter improvised explosive device threats that proliferated during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will become a permanent establishment under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Once transitioned under DTRA later this year, JIDA will be called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO).
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) was created in 2006 to devise and field new technologies to help identify roadside bombs and other improvised explosives that were quickly becoming the weapon of choice for insurgents against U.S. troops. By 2008 it grew to a $4 billion outfit.
JIEDDO transitioned in March 2015 to a smaller organization—a combat support agency—with an annual budget of at least half a billion dollars and is working to institutionalize both the wartime mission and develop plans to tackle other emerging battlefield threats. It's new name became the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency.
The decision to place JIDA under DTRA's control is in response to a fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requirement that prohibited JIDA from becoming a stand-alone agency and directed JIDA be moved to a military department or an existing defense agency, JIDA said in a statement Tuesday.
Congress was notified of the decision to place JIDA within DTRA Jan 29.
JIDA's future has long been debated, with some arguing the organization should fold back into the Army where it began as the wars winded down. Others say JIDA's permanent status is welcome news because threats aren't disappearing, and, to the contrary, terrorists are becoming increasingly creative in how they carry out attacks.
The idea is for the agency to be prepared to grow or shrink as new threats dictate.
"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 Shields, JIDA's director, said. "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."
Ken Myers, DTRA's director, added that C-IED and countering weapons of mass destruction missions "will be preserved and enhanced" in the transition.
The two agencies are working on a transition plan to be complete, per the NDAA, no later than Aug. 21 with a complete transition no later than Sept. 30.
Myers said that realigning JIDA under DTRA will foster more areas of collaboration such as science and technology information sharing, security cooperation and building partner capacities. Both JIDA and DTRA, according to Myers, will share strengths in acquisition, information technology and identifying emerging threats and will see improvement in each other's situational awareness on global threats.
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Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.