JDEAL. Yet another rather vague military acronym and yet it stands for a major project of the European Defence Agency (EDA): the Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory to analyse improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The first mobile JDEAL was delivered on 10 February to Soesterberg, the Netherlands by Spanish company Indra. According to EDA, this first mobile laboratory “is now counted as a fully operational training facility and a deployable capability…. and is now ready for deployment to operations to counter-IED threats on the request of the JDEAL Contributing Members.”
This new tool consists of 13 modular containers which, just like Lego bricks, can be assembled according to the specific needs of each mission. Up to 20 IED specialists will be able to work on the residues of explosives collected from attacks and compile the information gathered in order to analyse the techniques, tactics and procedures used by those who lay the IEDs. The laboratory works across the entire spectrum of technical IED exploitation. This includes detailed visual examination and high quality image capture; technical exploitation reporting; biometric analysis (latent finger print recovery); electrical circuitry (primarily radio parts); document and media recovery (focused on the mobile phones often used as IED triggering devices); chemical analysis; mechanical exploitation as well as other materiel exploitation.
JDEAL is the result of a long process which began in 2011 with the delivery by Indra of the Multinational Theatre Exploitation Laboratory Demonstrator (MNTEL). Deployed from September 2011 with ISAF in Afghanistan under the control of the French contingent, MNTEL, even though operating at reduced capacity, recovered and analysed almost 6,000 samples of IEDs until it was sent to the Netherlands in 2014. The huge “library” of samples gathered, together with the experience acquired, contributed to the launch of the JDEAL project proper and to the inauguration in November 2014 of a permanent structure destined to train future counter-IED specialists. The delivery of this first mobile laboratory will now allow operators to “focus on the possible operational consequences of getting deployed in the upcoming months,” according to Major Geert-Jan Verkoeijen, JDEAL Manager in Soesterberg. “We are now preparing for the C-IED training exercise ‘Bison Counter’ in Sweden (August 2016),” he said in an EDA communique.
The JDEAL project was launched in May 2013 at the initiative of 11 EDA member states (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden) and Norway. Far from being limited to this one mobile laboratory, JDEAL will eventually consist of a fixed structure and two mobile laboratories for the use of the contributing states.