ARLINGTON, Va. -- Locating and disabling the sources of components in Improvised Explosive Devices is vital to defeating the insurgents who use them.

"If I defeat the device, it affects the battle today. If I can defeat that network and take out [the enemy], I can affect the war. It's a force multiplier to defeat the network," Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, said to about 100 Soldiers, Army scientists and defense contractors at the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement's Counter-IED Summit Jan. 25.

The best method to attack IEDs and save Warfighters' lives is finding and destroying the manufacturing supply lines, he said.

"Great technology with the right kind of training is what saves lives. There are not enough Soldiers to take every IED off the battlefield, but I can take [IEDs] out of the factories," Justice said.

Detonating the devices in combat destroys valuable data, he said. Instead, scientists can extract valuable information by analyzing the bombs' chemical and biological signatures.

"The best thing for us to do is find an unexploded IED. It allows us to take it apart and find the mix of the explosives. We can track down the source of the components."

Collecting that information in laboratories will enable commanders in the field to disarm the enemy before IEDs are planted, Justice said.

"Wouldn't it be great to have the ability to collect that intelligence and data from repeated events and be able to train Soldiers against the specific threat'" he said. "I could look at the components [the enemy] uses and start tracking down the manufacturer.

"[We can] start getting the signatures and narrow down the list of people in the network by the components they choose to use."

Justice reiterated the tenants of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization -- defeat the device, attack the network, train the force. He said the Army has concentrated on defeating IEDs once they are detected on the battlefield, but more attention should be placed on disabling the enemy's network of bomb suppliers.

Scientists can help Soldiers achieve this goal through dissecting the chemical and biological signatures of bombs, Justice said.

"You have to look at the components," he said. "Start getting into the industrial base and track down where equipment is bought and sold. The world market is not that big."