Unmanned Systems the New Weapon for Terrorist Attacks (See in Action)

Lt. Gen. Michael H. Shields, USA, director, Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO)
“We continue to focus on the IED threat—the different methods of delivering those IEDs—and we are as busy as ever.” Lt. Gen. Michael H. Shields, USA, director, Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO)

Long a tool of US allies trying to foil improvised explosive devices, unmanned systems now may be entering the fray against friendly forces.

Lt. Gen. Michael H. Shields, USA, director, Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), says his organization anticipated this threat, and as such have organized in a way to both understand, react and respond to it.

Gen. Shields spoke with SIGNAL Magazine Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman for an article in the July issue.

“Our adversaries are innovating,” the general states. “They are focusing on research and development.” 

“We continue to focus on the IED threat—the different methods of delivering those IEDs—and we are as busy as ever.” 

(Embedded with Iraqi special forces, Ben C. Solomon was on the front lines in Mosul when a threat came from above: An ISIS drone dropping a grenade. Courtesy of the New York Times and YouTube)

Among the many tools JIDO is counting on to combat the UAV-IED threat is advanced information system technology.

Better sensors for detection and tracking, coupled with new ways of data processing, could be key to defeating growing and emerging dangers in the battlespace.

The U.S. Defense Department (DoD) and political leadership continue to fund JIDO with sufficient dollars to move rapidly as a quick reaction capability within the department, Gen. Shields says.

(The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency’s vice director, Maj. Gen. Julie Bentz, discusses JIDA’s enduring and future DoD role. Courtesy of the DOD and YouTube)

The organization also has modified its contract framework to provide greater flexibility and agility, along with cost savings, which the general describes as huge for JIDO.

Although budget support for JIDO is solid, if the organization received more funding, the general would invest it in capabilities to battle burgeoning threats, including unmanned aerial systems.

Wish list aside, JIDO is focused on delivering capabilities to the warfighter within two years, he adds. 

Smoke rises from an unmanned aerial vehicle after it was engaged by a counter system in March during the Hard Kill Challenge in New Mexico. Sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), the challenge focused on stopping the growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems. Photo by 1st Lt. Chelsi Spence, USAF, DTRA)

Computer and advanced analytics also are high on the general’s list, as are deep machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing, all targets of opportunity for industry and academia, the article goes on to say.

JIDO already is heavily engaged in reaching out to the business sector to tap technologies that support its mission.