September 24th, 2006 08:50 EST
Increased IED attacks catch the attention of VCJCS
KABUL, Afghanistan – The increase in frequency of improvised explosive device attacks throughout the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan has the attention of the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani.
Giambastiani recently visited Afghanistan to meet with U.S. and Coalition service members and to assess the many challenges U.S. troops are facing with more sophisticated and increased IED attacks.
The number of suicide bombers has risen recently with an overall uptick in violence in Afghanistan.
With the establishment of the Joint Improvised Explosive Devices Defeat Organization, the admiral said he is seeing some improvements when it comes to locating IEDs before they have a chance to detonate. Ordnance disposal teams are sent in to defuse and dismantle the devices.
The challenge now is to reduce the level of causalities, he said.
“Now we must work harder everyday towards reducing our numbers of causalities from these horrible attacks,” said Giambastiani.
The JIDO is comprised of several IED experts who focus their efforts on trends, techniques, tactics and procedures used in developing the devices. That information is shared throughout the area of operation to train and mentor Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in the field who are in convoys and on foot patrols where they’ll actually encounter IEDs.
In addition, Giambastiani explained that the U.S. Navy as well as the Air Force is sending several of their electronic warfare officers into Iraq and Afghanistan to work on counter-IED measures and to stop the devices from even detonating.
For added protection to U.S. forces, the admiral said about $3.3 billion was recently set aside to purchase route-clearing equipment such as heavy-duty tactical vehicles in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The admiral also pointed out that up-armored vehicles such as the Husky, the Buffalo and the Cougar all help add an additional measure of safety for our convoy groups.
Over the five years that America has been in Afghanistan, Giambastiani has made several visits in order to personally view the progress and development throughout the country as well as to bolster the morale of the servicemen and women performing their duties there every day.
“I have been wearing a military uniform for close to 40 years now, and I’ve never been more proud to be a part of today’s military,” Giambastiani said. “When I meet so many young people with such tremendous morale while deployed to Afghanistan, it really energizes me.”
The biggest challenge at the moment, the admiral said, is how to effectively put a large population of people to work so they don’t become part of the criminal element or part of the drug trafficking community in Afghanistan.
He also stressed that the U.S. is definitely moving forward in several areas to help stand up the government of Afghanistan, increase security and rebuild and redevelop devastated areas.
“This country has been severely ravished by war over the past 30 years, and bringing stability along with a sense of calm to the Afghan people is essential in building a successful community throughout Afghanistan,” he said.
Before departing the country, Giambastiani spent time enjoying a meal with Soldiers who are part of the Jalalabad Provincial Reconstruction Team, a forward operating base near the Pakistan border.
He told the Soldiers he was impressed by their commitment and enthusiasm.
“I wish that all Americans could experience and feel the enthusiasm of our troops here everyday,” said the admiral.
Recognizing that these are the men and women in harm’s way, the admiral said he was proud of the fact, that despite the high risks, each individual still held firm to their commitment to serve.
“They all understand that they volunteered when they joined the military, and they’re prepared to work with Coalition members from around the world to make Afghanistan a more secure and well-governed country,” said Giambastiani.