Approximately 70 percent of combat deaths in Iraq have been caused by roadside bombs, the most common form of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), making them the number one killer of U.S. troops there. U.S. Central Command indicates that the number of deaths from roadside bombs in Iraq has fallen but use of the devices in Afghanistan is rising. IEDs are expected to be the weapon of choice for insurgents for many years to come.
In an effort to counteract the IED problem, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization awarded Mason a contract valued at more than $7 million if fully funded over three years for research and development to counter IEDs.
Mason professors of systems engineering and operations research Kathryn Laskey and Andrew Loerch lead the project. They are analyzing and modeling initiatives to effectively counteract IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe, as well as try to understand how the insurgencies will evolve.
“One of the biggest modeling challenges is that the threat adapts, creating an extensive assortment of IEDs,” says Laskey. “Every time you think you’ve got them all covered, the insurgents come up with a new strategy.
“Our hope is that our models, or at least the methods we come up with for dealing with IEDs, will be robust in most situations that arise in the future.” 6 –Jennifer Edgerly