Most government agencies strive to use technology more effectively, but only a few use it to directly save lives.
Despite its small size, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization comes up with techniques and technologies to get rid of bombs and shares that information with U.S. and allied warfighters through an online training portal.
JIEDDO has three main missions: attacking IED manufacturing and distribution networks, defeating the devices and training warfighters, said James Craft, the organization’s chief information officer. Attacking IED networks requires big data tools such as data analytics, data mining and technology to connect and integrate knowledge for personnel across security levels.
The organization must develop new processes and technologies quickly in order to make it available to analysts within days and to troops within four to 24 months. It’s mantra is ABC: adopt, buy, and create if there are no other options.
“If a solution is out there, especially if it’s open source, we’ll hunt it down,” Craft said.
JIEDDO was created to address immediate IED threats facing U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the time of its creation, a lot of counter IED information and some solutions were available, but data was scattered across many Defense Department web sites and organizations. Information from these sites have been consolidated into JIEDDO’s portal. Now, JIEDDO is modifying the portal to meet Office of Management and Budget and DoD strategic plans for government information technology, Craft said. Multiple systems created over the last six years are migrating to a cloud-based architecture.
Information about detecting and defeating IEDs and related data is loaded into the organization’s information environment to support various analysis processes and to support warfighters. Training warfighters to deal with IEDs (pictured above in Africa last year), the organization finds and promulgates the most current data to personnel through the JIEDDO Knowledge Information Fusion Exchange (JKnIFE), an online portal that serves as a one-stop shop for counter-IED training.
Fast innovation and agility are critical to JIEDDO’s mission, Craft said. To that end, it networks with government, industry and academic experts to amplify expertise within the organization’s 423 federal workers, he said. And they push for innovative tools to meet new needs.
For example, JIEDDO employs open source data mining and social networking processes to help spark innovation in a more cost-efficient way, he said.
JIEDDO also uses the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System and the Afghan Mission Network to collect feedback from warfighters. They’re also pursuing upcoming network spaces such as the Future Mission Network and the Joint Information Environment through DoD.
“If there’s a collaborative environment that adds to the mission and we can leverage it, then we’ll look into it,” he said.
For technical data, such as specific engineering information to defeat certain types of IEDs, JIEDDO relies on DOD systems and collaborative tools through portals such as Intelink, the intelligence community’s network of networks.
However, JKnIFE is the crown jewel of JIEDDO’s information sharing and educational mission. The online portal provides training courses and instructional material specific to a soldier’s area of operation. The latest instantiation of the system itself is modeled on JIEDDO’s rapid fielding ethos, having gone from an identified need to a deployable system in only six months.
Designed to support both troops and their trainers the portal offers best practices, reports, tactics and procedures and it maintains an operations center to meet immediate user needs and requests. JIEDDO has launched a media server to provide video-based instructional material, Craft said.
The portal is changing the way the DoD produces and releases training material, Craft said. Traditionally, it often took years to collect, write and issue this information service-wide, he explained. Units receiving the documentation began training with information that was usually several years old. This process was repeated in most of the wars fought by the United States throughout the 20th century, he said.
JKnIFE works by creating partnerships between various training content providers and the operators they serve to rapidly roll out needed training material.
“That is a new way of doing business for the U.S. military and its coalition partners. To win future wars, we must learn faster and more effectively than our enemies” Craft said.