By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Nov. 19, 2007 - If Congress does not come through with a supplemental bill President Bush will sign, money for defeating the largest killers of American personnel in the war on terror will run out Dec. 1, a senior official said here today. Retired Army Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, told Pentagon reporters that the organization will have to stop funding new initiatives and just maintain operations.
"We're out of (funding) new stuff now; we're going to have trouble sustaining current contracts after the first of December," Meigs said.
The anti-IED organization needs the funding to sustain operations and to pay for equipment fielded but not yet turned over to the services for funding, Meigs said. For example, he said, his organization funds the Guardian man-portable jammer, the contractors to service it, and the training in the system.
The organization tests new projects, ideas, ways of doing business and equipment against IEDs. If they prove effective, the organization is nimble enough to quickly can get the equipment to the hands of servicemembers. Meigs said the organization has enough money "to keep the lights on" through April. The organization is funded via supplemental spending bills.
"What I can't fund today will not go into the field next summer or next fall," Meigs said. "It'll be delayed by the amount of time we wait for funding."
This is occurring at a time when IED attacks have dropped 55 percent from their high in June. The average daily attacks are down 42 percent. "That is really good news," Meigs said. "This is coincident with the surge." The overall peak in June and July of this year, and IED attacks have been dropping steadily ever since.
"This is a function of more soldiers on the ground being more aggressive," the general said.
The most positive indicator in Iraq is the number of enemy weapons caches being discovered, he said. "This year cache finds are up significantly," he said. "And we're finding big caches. If you can damage (the enemy's) wholesale system, it's a lot harder for him to operate." In 2006, the coalition and Iraqi forces found a total of 2,667 caches. This year so far, the number is 5,364.
Increased tips from Iraqis are the root cause for the upward trend in cache finds, Meigs said. More than 8,500 tips were turned in to national or local hotlines in September 2006. In August of this year, the latest month for which statistics are available, the number was 19,294, even though every time a tipster comes forward, he's risking his life, Meigs said.
In Afghanistan, Meigs said, the Taliban are making a full-fledged effort to get back into the game. IED attacks are up, and the number of effective attacks is up as well, he said. The attacks are more lethal, he explained, because soldiers conduct more dismounted patrols in Afghanistan. "A suicide bomber with a vest is more lethal in Afghanistan. It's easier to get closer to the troops," he said.