18 May 2008

Air Force Hosts Anti-IED Conference in Southwest Asia

The battle against improvised explosive devices takes place on the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan every day, but this week coalition members took the fight into a conference room, tucked away on an air base in Southwest Asia.

Arranged by the Combined Air and Space Operations Center's Combined Theater Electronic Warfare Coordination Cell, the conference put IED experts from Iraq and Afghanistan together with William Hughes, director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization's test board and test board members to exchange information during the two-day conference.

"We're here to see if we're meeting the warfighters' needs," Hughes said. "Is the information we're providing helping them, is it in the right format? Meetings like this are critical to that."

Hughes' group decided to make the trip to Southwest Asia to make it easier on the warfighters. "We don't want them to have to come to us; our group came to them to make it as easy as possible for them."

The test board coordinates and synchronizes all counter-IED testing and provides information on results to the combat theater. Hughes said the effort is cyclical, as whenever coalition forces use new countermeasures against the deadly devices, enemy forces respond by changing technology.

Hughes, at 58 and wearing a pacemaker, has personally logged nearly 600 miles on convoys in Iraq, gathering information to help stop terrorists' deadliest weapon. IEDs are one of the primary threats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We take what we collect here and go back and try to refine what we're doing, to give our guys the best possible defense against IEDs," Hughes said.

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joel Langton
Special to American Forces Press Service

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joel Langton serves with U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs.

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