Pa. businesses huddle on ways to counter IED threat

    U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joined area manufacturers, engineers and scientists in Philadelphia Monday to discuss ways to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices.

    The military is looking for more than brawn to protect troops and lessen injury from makeshift roadside explosives. Representatives from an engineering company in Bucks County, wireless network experts from Chester County and a textile company from Philadelphia were among the groups who came to discuss their scientific and technological expertise.

    The group was assembled by a government supported coalition, the Joint IED Defeat Organization.

    Army Lt. Gen.l Michael Barbero says IEDs are a “poor man’s precision guided munition.”

    “They put it right where they want it and for 30 bucks they can try to destroy a vehicle with it,” he said. “For decades to come, wherever our forces go in the future, this is going to be the weapon used against them.”

    Barbero said about 80 percent of the devices used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan are made from a fertilizer made in Pakistan.

    He says the U.S. must do more than play “defense.” The government also has to work with partners in Pakistan, he said, to limit the flow of raw materials to insurgents.

    Jim McGlone leads a Pittsburgh chemical imaging and detection company, ChemImage, now working on both handheld and vehicle-mounted products.

    “It’s our ability to look down the road at things, literally, and our ability to look at things that are unfriendly and then be able to help the warfighter identify those and protect lives,” McGlone said.

    Makeshift bombs have injured or killed thousands of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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