Chertoff highlights DHS's approach to counter IEDs

Published 26 October 2007

IEDs are the signature weapon of the insurgency in Iraq, but they will soon find their way here; DHS secretary discusses the key points at which the IED threat may be countered; technology companies, investors should listen

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the signature technology of the insurgency in Iraq — and, as we have written in the past few months, DHS is worried that we will soon be seeing IEDs exploding along U.S. highways and railways. In a recent speech at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, DHS secretary Michael Chertoff discussed the danger of IEDs outside the borders of Iraq and what should be done to limit the damage IEDs inflict. Technology companies and investors should study the chart Chertoff displayed and his discussion of it, becasue a lot of research funds and, eventually, procurement money will be dvoted to products and solutions aiming to address different mitigation points along the chart — moving from left to right.

Chertoff said that “the challenge of dealing with IEDs is one that is a global challenge,” whether it is in the war zone in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in Europe where the Germans recently rolled up a plot to use peroxide-based IEDs, or in Britain “where we’ve seen an aborted effort earlier this summer to use vehicle-borne IEDs to cause damage in London,” or whether it is the concern “we have in this country about IEDs.” Chertoff came equipped with a PowerPoint display which he said offered an insight into how DHS looks at IEDs. The chart he showed examines the spectrum of IED delivery chain, and Chertoff emphasized that the way of dealing with IEDs is a recognition that there are many different points in which an IED threat can be countered. Chertoff said that “In some ways, it’s the expression ‘left of boom’ that captures and articulates this concept; that before we actually have the explosion, there are a series of intervention points, when if we can prevent something from happening, we can stop that boom from taking place.”

The process of preventing an IED explosion begins with deterring and incapacitating those who obtain the funds for IEDs, the development of the organization whic is going to manufacture and plant the IED, intercepting the gathering and provision of materials for the IED. Then, as one moves closer to boom along the spectrum from left to right, “we get into the actual detection and disruption of planning of attacks, the on-site blocking of the detonation of a bomb,” Chertoff said. If worse comes to worse and there is a boom — the bomb goes off — the ability to manage and mitigate the consequences does have a major impact in terms of at least reducing the amount of damage and the amount of impact that that bomb does have on innocent people. “And finally, there is attribution, which is our ability to go back and find those who caused it.”