Friday, March 12, 2010

DODLive Bloggers Roundtable Hears From Lt. Gen. Michael L. Oates on IEDs

U.S. Army Lt. General Michael L. Oates, new director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), answered questions for the DODLive Bloggers Roundtable today. I participated in the roundtable and was impressed by the efforts of the JIEDDO, an organization that is only four years old.

While the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is declining in Iraq, the threat is increasing in Afghanistan, where the less sophisticated bomb making than in Iraq focuses on using two types of fertilizer.

Lt. General Oates explained that fighting IEDs in Afghanistan is a very local challenge – knowing all the players -- and that the Taliban direct their fighters on the placement of the IEDs to prevent U.S. troops from interacting with the local population.

The general also spoke about how open JIEDDO is to outside suggestions and to outside bids for its projects. Thus when it was my turn to ask a question, I asked for a single link that would make it easy for people to connect with JIEDDO in order to offer their help or ideas.

While I was assured that on the JIEDDO site -- at -- it is easy to find things, I checked this site out and it is, in my opinion, very difficult to navigate.

Because I had been told there was a bid link on the site's home page, I did serach for and finally locate the bid portal. But, again, once you get to the bid portal the site continues to be difficult to navigate.

As a former Mrs. Lieutenant I understand about the U.S. Army's tendency to over-write rather than simplify. But, as Lt. General Oates said, IEDs are a "matter of life and death."

Thus my suggestion to JIEDDO is: Make the entire website -- and especially the bid portal -- much more user friendly.

In civilian speak: Get rid of all the excess information on the home page and, using the breadcrunbs concept for websites, lead people step-by-step through a clear navigation path to what they should do and what they can do to help save the lives of our men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel MRS. LIEUTENANT and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. Her newest project is

Phyllis' company does power marketing that combines traditional marketing principles and Internet marketing strategies to put power in your hands.

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