History of Joint Expeditionary Team (JET) and Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)

Written by Mike Register, Chief Operations Officer, Quiet Professionals, LLC

History of Joint Expeditionary Team (JET) and Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIEDDO)

Quiet Professionals (QP) was founded in 2013 by Mr. Andrew Wilson and has continued to grow exponentially in both size and scope since its inception.  The cornerstone of the company’s success has always been its ability to help clients adapt to the current and emerging complexities of their operational environments.  QP gives each client the most effective and innovative solution(s) possible to enhance their ability to execute their various missions.  Geo-politics, global connectivity, and technology are just a few of the influencing factors which have created the fluid and evolving environments our clients are confronted with.  In fact, QP was born out of the need to confront one of the most lethal evolving and emerging threats of the 21st century; the improvised explosive device (IED).

Since its beginning, QP has supported a DoD contract which has specifically assisted the United States military and coalition partners in confronting the IED.  The specific vehicle for this support is the Joint Expeditionary Team (JET), which is part of a larger contract that supports a DoD Command.  The JET has been in existence since 2006 and three of the current Executive Team members at QP, Andy Wilson (President/CEO), Michael Register (COO) and Leo Kryszewski (EVP), were members of this team, with two current QP employees still supporting JET’s global mission today.  Before we can tell the story of the Joint Expeditionary Team (JET), lets first examine the IED since the 1980s.

The IED

The modern use of the IED actually began in earnest in 1983 with the bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon.  On October 23rd at 06:22 a.m., a Mercedes-Benz truck laden with approximately 21,000 pounds of explosives drove through the concertina wire barrier that surrounded a building being used as a barracks for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines.  The truck continued through an open gate in the inner perimeter before finally crashing into the lobby area of the building where the driver detonated its deadly load.  The blast devastated the building and killed 241 American servicemen (Geraghty, 2009; Wright, 2006).  Less than ten minutes after the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks, another suicide bomber attacked the Drakkar Building which housed members of the French 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment and killed 58 French servicemen.  Both the Americans and French were in Lebanon as members of a United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping mission.

By February of the following year, all American and French personnel were withdrawn, along with British and Italian forces (Wright, 2006).  What was significant about the attacks in Lebanon and the subsequent withdrawal of troops was the strategic effect the attacks had, and how this was noticed by the future leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden (Soufan, 2011).  He would reference this several times as he developed the strategy for what was to become the terrorist organization “al Qaeda”, and also espoused the effectiveness of suicide operations (2011).  He would also integrate IEDs and suicide tactics into the group’s strategy; with that strategy eventually leading to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

As stated, the U.S. military invaded Iraq in March of 2003.  Several days after the invasion commenced the enemy began a campaign of using IEDs and suicide operations against coalition military forces with great success.  Coalition personnel had not trained adequately for this threat, and also found that their current technology and equipment were not effective.  By October of 2003, the IED was being used so aggressively by the enemy that the U.S. Army created the Counter IED Task Force commanded by Brigadier General Joseph Votel (Global Security, 2015).  Votel’s mission was to find solutions for the growing IED problem.  Votel’s contribution was invaluable but the IED problem continued to grow, and by mid-2004 the Task Force was redesigned as a Joint Task Force (JTF).  This meant that the JTF could now incorporate experiences, best practices, and lessons learned from all the branches of the military.   This JTF was foundational in the development of principles and concepts such as “Attack the Network”, “Defeat the Device” and “Train the Force”, which would become the future Joint IED Defeat Organization’s (JIEDDO’s) lines of operation (LOOs).

JET and JIEDDO

The IED problem continued to escalate so drastically in Iraq, to include suicide operations, that in 2006 the Deputy Secretary of Defense published DOD Directive 2000.19E, formally establishing the JIEDDO (DoD, 2006).  JIEDDO was initially led by retired General, Montgomery Meigs.  Meigs had spent 35 years in the military and had retired in 2002.  Meigs demonstrated tireless effort and tremendous leadership in creating an organization from the ground up that would eventually have a $4 billion per year budget and grow to over 3,000 direct and support personnel.  Meigs relentlessly walked the corridors of JIEDDO, which was located in Arlington Virginia at that time, engaging all personnel in one-on-one conversations.  He was very inquisitive and seemed to value everyone’s opinions and expertise in our respective areas.  JIEDDO would eventually become a 3-Star Command and  Meigs would be followed by Lieutenant Generals Metz, Oates, Barbaro, Johnson, and Shields.

The Joint Expeditionary Team (JET) came into existence in August of 2006 in support of the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).  The team began with 13 members that were supporting JIEDDO and worked closely with the Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG).  The original concept of the team was to have one Program Manager located at JIEDDO HQ, with two teams of six JET members conducting both a CONUS and OCONUS mission.  Of course, at that time, the main war effort was Iraq, and as stated the IED had become a very deadly enemy tactic, technique, and procedure (TTP).  The founding members of JET envisioned that one team would be stationed CONUS to assist military units in preparing for combat operations in theater and be available for rapid deployment missions to Combatant Commands (CCMD) other than Central Command (CENTCOM).  The other portion of JET would be forward advising and assisting combat units in theater.  It sounded great, but as the evolving requirements for the team began to materialize, and the JIEDDO Division Support Team (DST) concept was born, JIEDDO and JET realized the initial concept would not work.

Some of the first JET tasks directed by JIEDDO were to assist the USMC CREW T3 course at Twenty-Nine Palms in development of tactical TTPs for their CREW systems; assist in development of the DST concept in support of forward units; conduct an assessment of TF-134 in Iraq concerning how detainee operations was getting put back into the OPS/INTEL fusion cycle; assess the USMC’s Joint Prosecution and Exploitation Cell (JPEC) and capture its TTPs and best practices; and develop a consistent support package for CENTCOM and Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  IN fact, JET was the first JIEDDO element to go forward in order to “set-up” the DST with 3rd ID, and also with 4th ID, and by the middle of 2007 JIEDDO had fielded JETs in support of all the MNDs to include MNF-West with the Marines.  Andy, Leo, and I were all involved in each area of operations and were also very active CONUS in preparing units to confront the IED in all operational areas.  We were also involved in the development of creating various mounted and dismounted TTPs that would be functional in an IED environment.

In the beginning JET, as did AWG, employed individuals who had a tremendous amount of knowledge, and also had the experience to offer deploying units a “been there and done that” perspective.  In 2006 when JET began it’s support of the war effort, we found a military force that was very young and untested from a combat perspective.  JET and AWG personnel found it easy to gain their attention because of the combat pedigree that most JET members possessed.  Also, JET dealt primarily with conventional forces and it’s SOF and Special Mission Unit (SMU) backgrounds further assisted in giving additional credibility.  Over time, the battle hardening of the forces and the evolving operational environment forced the JET program to evolve in its method of support.  We were no longer speaking to units and personnel that were not “battle-tested”; we were now engaging personnel and units, both conventional and SOF, who had four or more deployments under their belt.  This actually was an opportunity for JET to venture out into other areas which would impact countering the IED and the various uses, to include suicide operations.  For example, JET worked with the RAND Corporation to analyze social and historical factors facilitating enemy radicalization efforts; technology initiatives for defeating enemy TTPs such as their use of passive infrared (PIR); and the mitigation of homemade explosives (HME).  JET also became very active in assisting coalition partners in counter IED efforts.  JET became involved in all three of JIEDDO’s LOOs.

After JIEDDO was created the organization developed counter-IED (C-IED) initiatives within three lines of operation (LOOs); Defeat the Device; Train the Force; and Attack the Network.  Defeat the Device was primarily concerned with development of equipment and technology that could assist in defeating the use and capabilities of the IED.  One very deadly tactic the enemy was employing at this time was Radio Controlled IEDs (RCIEDs).  A RCIED was an IED that could be detonated by an electronic signal such as a cell phone.   JIEDDO and JET worked with various technology based companies to develop enhanced Counter Radio Controlled IED Electronic Warfare (CREW) capabilities and tactics that would defeat, or lessen the effectiveness, of RCIEDs.

JIEDDO’s second LOO was Train the Force. The Train the Force LOO used C-IED subject matter experts (SMEs) just as JET to develop tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to defeat the IED from an operational perspective.  The C-IED SMEs would develop tactics that could be employed in mounted and dismounted operations.  Mounted operations involved the use of vehicles, while dismounted operations denoted movement by foot.  In the beginning of the Iraq war most of the IEDs were used to attack the vehicles that were transporting Coalition troops.  Some of the IEDs that were developed by the enemy could penetrate up several inches of armor.  Foot patrols became more prevalent after military forces began being counter insurgency (COIN) doctrine centric, and also because of the terrain in Afghanistan.  Counter insurgency doctrine espoused the concept of “wining the hearts and minds” of the people.  This doctrine made it mandatory for Coalition forces to engage with the Iraq and Afghanistan populations.  The enemy quickly exploited the fact that Coalition Forces had increased their operations involving foot patrols, and developed specific IEDs to target these types of patrols.  JET was instrumental in development of foot patrol tactics integrated with various C-IED technology that could be used in an IED environment.  JIEDDO also established the Joint Center of Excellence (JCOE) at Ft. Irwin, California, in order to collect IED relevant lessons learned and best practices, and impart them to units throughout the U.S. military and Coalition partners.  JET was an integral part of this initiative.

One of the most complex LOOs that JIEDDO operated within was Attack the Network.  To increase the effectiveness of this LOO JIEDDO built a large informational repository and intelligence sub organization called the Counter IED Operations/Intelligence Integration Center (COIC) (JIEDDO, 2008).  Global insurgent and terrorist groups for the most part, are networks that have endemic similarities and operational needs that can be exploited.  JIEDDO used the COIC and other resources that targeted nefarious networks to deconstruct them and diminish, or eliminate their capabilities and resources.  JET was instrumental in helping units to gain the insight and knowledge of network mitigation/deconstruction that would assist in their targeting efforts.  Enemy networks that facilitated the construction, use, transport, and/or financing of IEDs, and/or their components, were JIEDDO’s primary targets.  Under the Attack the Network LOO, JIEDDO developed many operational methodologies and processes such as pattern analysis, the Advanced Analytics Program, and Weapons Technical Intelligence, that were instrumental in understanding and eliminating terrorist and insurgent network functioning and effectiveness, while JET continued to improve targeting models.

The original JIEDDO organization grew from a few hundred personnel to approximately 4,000 by 2010, with its workforce being made up of military, U.S government and contracting personnel (Weisgerber, 2013).  It had also expanded its mission since its inception in 2006.  As JIEDDO grew, so did the global IED threat.  A recent article written by Richard Norton-Taylor for The Guardian, stated that between 2011 and 2013, approximately 53,000 people died worldwide from IEDs.  He also reported, “Civilian casualties from suicide bombings went up by more than a third, and attacks by car bombs increased by more than 200%. Civilians accounted for more than 80% of those killed or injured” (Taylor, 2014).  JIEDDO found that the lessons it had learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the TTPs and technologies that it had developed would be useful in countering the IED threat within U.S. borders, and also assist our partner nations with their C-IED efforts.  As JIEDDO continued to address the IED threat on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, it also sent JET and other resources to countries such as Colombia, Guam, and parts of Africa.

As JET continues to support the American military, I think it is important for all to understand how it came about and how it is tied to the creation of QP.  The JET program has made a tremendous contribution to countering the IED and is responsible for the saving of life and limb that can never be quantified.  The JET’s consistent improvement of operational methodologies and innovative thinking are the cornerstone of what QP as a company is.  Today’s JET operates a lot like a “Systems Analyst”.  I say this because the JET of today must assist units and elements in not only developing CIED tactics and strategies, but must be a “jack of all trades” in C-IED, targeting, UAS, and many other related subject areas.  JET must be able to assist elements in understanding and employing all CIED assets, capabilities, enablers and tools available to them in a coordinated and synchronized manner to facilitate comprehensive CIED operations and methodologies.  JET must also examine how units operate and identify the “gaps” in their perspective systems (operations, training and technology) and use their vast operational knowledge to assist in finding solutions to mitigate those gaps.  It’s unbelievable and a tremendous honor for Andy, Leo and myself to have been part of such an extraordinary team and organization.  For the current and future JETs of QP; keep of the great work.

 

 

 

References

Beverly, G., (2009).  The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror.  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Department of Defense, (2006).  DOD Directive 2000.19E.  Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/200019p.pdf

Geraghty, T., (2009). Peacekeepers at War: Beirut 1983: The Marine Commander Tells His Story. Potomac Books.

GlobalSecurity.com, (2015).  The Joint IED Defeat Organization. Retrieved from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/jieddo.htm

JIEDDO.mil., (2008).  Attack the Network.  Retrieved from https://www.jieddo.mil/content/docs/20130307_FS_Attack_the_Network.pdf

Shell, J., (2017).  How the IED Won: Dispelling the Myth of Tactical Success and Innovation.  Retrieved from https://warontherocks.com/2017/05/how-the-ied-won-dispelling-the-myth-of-tactical-success-and-innovation/

Soufan, A., Freedman, D., & Kitzinger, A. (2011). The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Taylor, R., (2014).  More Than 53,000 Civilians Injured by IEDs in Three Years.  Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/03/ieds-kill-53000-civilians-in-three-years-70-per-cent-rise

Weisgerber, M., (2013).  JIEDDO to Shrink, but Expand Mission.  Retrieved from http://archive.defensenews.com/article/20131206/DEFREG02/312060014/JIEDDO-Shrink-Expand-Mission

Wright, L., (2006).  The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.  New York, NY: Knopf Publishing.

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