October 30, 2005:
The U.S. Army is responsible for protecting some senior Iraqi government officials, but not with U.S. troops and equipment. Experienced civilians (Iraqi and foreign) can be hired and equipped with armor, weapons and other gear that is available on the open market. But some very special equipment; electronic jammers to disable roadside bombs (IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Device) was harder to find. So hard, that the army had to post a request, on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, looking for a dozen COTS (Commercial, Off The Shelf), electronic counter measure systems, for shutting down the signals that trigger roadside bombs. These devices are not difficult to build, and this request tells non-American manufacturers to put together these devices. U.S. law prohibits the use of American gear to protect foreigners (the Iraqi officials.) So American firms are locked out from this deal. These jammers will cost a lot more than the ones U.S. troops are using, because the foreign company will have to do a bit of research and development before that can do the manufacturing. But the foreign manufacturer will now have a "U.S. Army approved" product to sell to other foreigners, living in areas where remote-control roadside bombs have become popular. By not making the American jammers available to foreigners, there is less risk that this equipment will fall into the wrong hands, where it will be analyzed for vulnerabilities terrorists can exploit.