Mark Mazzetti of the Los Angeles Times reports that there’s a device called the Joint IED Neutralizer (JINs for short) that in tests has destroyed 90 percent of roadside bombs in its path. Roadside bombs account for more than half of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq. Yet none of the JINs have been shipped to Iraq.
JINs are remote-controlled devices that blow up bombs with a directed electrical charge. No one expects the JINs to eliminate all deaths from roadside bombs, but troops in the field seem to think that the possibility of eliminating some deaths should make deployment of the JINs a priority. They’re cheap beasts by military standards — $200,000 each — and they can withstand AK-47 fire and detonate bombs from a distance. Each device ought to be usable multiple times. The company that makes them says they could crank out 50 per months if they got the go-ahead. Only about a dozen have been produced so far.
The excuse is that deployment of these thingies to Iraq has been snagged in Pentagon bureaucracy for months. Others in the Pentagon say the device requires further testing. However, recently the Marines decided they’d test the things in the field, thank you, and are preparing to ship some JINs to Al Anbar province in Iraq.
I am weary of the “bureaucracy” excuse. Bureaucracies are as good as their managers. Yes, low-priority projects can linger in someone’s in-box, but if the top suits (or brass, as it were) make it well known they want some particular thing to move, and direct mid-level managers to expedite the process, then I bet movement there will be. But when the top guys can’t or won’t set clear priorities because they have their heads up their butts and don’t know how to work with the bureaucracy beneath them, that’s when items get bogged down.
Update: While at the Los Angeles Times, don’t miss “For One Marine, Torture Comes Home.”