After roadside bombs emerged as insurgents’ weapon of choice in Iraq, the Pentagon in 2006 created an agency to deal with the threat. In the years since, that agency has grown to a whopping 1,900 employees, has spent $17 billion—and has precious little to show for it, according to an investigation from the McClatchy papers and the Center for Public Integrity. The agency’s many pricey projects have done little to nothing to improve IED detection—the most effective methods remain low-tech ones, like using trained dogs. “We were throwing technologies into this like fast-food orders,” says one defense researcher.
What’s more, the “Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization,” violated its own accounting rules, misreporting roughly $795 million in costs and failing to get Defense Department approval for many projects. It also collected little data on its results, and spent wildly on projects having little to do with IEDs. “We fund things,” the agency’s outgoing director—its third in five years—said. “Sometimes we fund things that don’t work. Some call that waste; I call it risk.” McClatchy notes that 268 US troops were killed by IEDs in 2010 in Afghanistan, the most since the war began there in 2001. Click to read the entire piece.