Protection, Risk and Communication: Battling the Effects of Improvised Explosive Devices in Contemporary Operations
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
Pagination or Media Count:
The meteoric rise of the use of improvised explosive devices IEDs by insurgents in Iraq presents a glimpse into one of the greatest potential challenges faced by the Joint Force- both now and in future conflicts. These devices are tactical weapons, but are deliberately used to achieve effects at all levels of warfare. Inroads have been made to mitigate the impact of these systems at the tactical and operational level by physically protecting the force, but this approach is often in direct conflict with the requirements of a counter-insurgency campaign. Further, the American experience in Iraq demonstrates that, in spite of extensive mitigation efforts, the enemy can garner significant strategic impact from the employment of IEDs. The enemy has accurately recognized the will of the nation- both the general public and their elected representatives- as the American strategic center of gravity in contemporary overseas contingency operations. Underpinning this source of strength is the critical requirement of popular support. In the information age, this requirement is vulnerable to direct attack and may therefore be priority target for a militarily overmatched adversary. The asymmetric nature of future conflict will require a comprehensive approach to the IED menace. Adaptation and technology can mitigate the threat at the tactical level, while a comprehensive counterinsurgency approach that balances the factors of time and force can avert IED effects at the operational level. However, the strategic problem remains. Joint Force commanders must design and prosecute an extensive strategic communication program, conversing directly with the American public and the broader global audience, to protect the friendly strategic center of gravity.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Unconventional Warfare