Training to defeat IEDs

Training to defeat IEDs

Deanna Bague

MASTER Sgt. Christopher Ferreira and his team of instructors are determined to help defeat the deadly threat of improvised explosive devices.

“This training should be mandatory no matter where our Soldiers go,” Master Sgt. Ferreira said. “They should be required to stop at a station like this one for training.”

The station he’s referring to is operated at Fort Bliss, Texas, by Task Force Mustang of the Army Reserve’s 402nd Field Artillery Brigade.

Master Sgt. Ferreira returned from Iraq in 2006 and is now working to update the latest program of instruction, which Soldiers undergoing the training said adds credibility to the course and helps build confidence among the members of deploying units.

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Staff Sgt. Andrew Eberhardt, training NCO with Headquarters and HQs. Detachment, 104th Military Police Battalion, and Air Force Sgt. Newell Slagle of the 886th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, who are deploying for the second time, said the IED training is very realistic.

“This is a lot more advanced than what we had initially received,” said Staff Sgt. Eberhardt. “The training is an eye-opener for Soldiers who haven’t been in a combat theater, and it’s a great refresher for those who have.”

“The training is very up to date,” Sgt. Slagle said. “The instructors have been in theater and are very knowledgeable about what’s happening there.”

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Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who conduct pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss under the 402nd FA Bde. receive in-depth IED training.

“We show them examples of the different types of ordnance and how easy it is to build them,” said Master Sgt. Ferreira. “We show them how easy it is to camouflage things. We give them an opportunity to find simulated IEDs that are planted in the same ways that real IEDs are planted by Iraqi insurgents.”

Many servicemembers enter the training course with only a general knowledge about IEDs, said Capt. Aneal Krishnan of the 104th MP Bn. “I’ve never seen a real IED, only pictures of them. I don’t know what an emplaced, camouflaged IED would look like. I think a lot of people are in the same boat as me.”

Staff Sgt. Alfonso Bombita, a TF Mustang observer-controller and trainer, said servicemembers receive hands-on training using an interactive display called the “Petting Zoo.”

“I ask members of the units coming through to pick up the devices,” Staff Sgt. Bombita said. So all the Soldiers know what an IED looks and feels like.

Master Sgt. Ferreira said the training is intended to counter the IED threat by familiarizing servicemembers with the different types they may encounter, including vehicle- and personnel-borne IEDs, and victim-operated (as in suicide bombers) and radio-controlled IEDs.

“We have the technology to counter radio-controlled IEDs and jam frequencies to prevent them from exploding,” he said. “But the enemy is constantly adapting and finding ways to defeat the technology.

“So now, because we have defeated radio-controlled IEDs, the enemy is going back to using pressure plates,” said Master Sgt. Ferreira. Command-wired, victim-operated IEDs and passive infrared 1EDs are among the simplest to build.

Staying alert and not discussing missions, even in recreation facilities in theater, is extremely important, Master Sgt. Ferreira added. There are third-country nationals in the mess halls and gyms in Iraq. Soldiers don’t know where they go at night or with whom they meet.

Maj. Deanna Bague works at the Fort Bliss, Texas, Public Affairs Office.

COPYRIGHT 2007 Soldiers Magazine

COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale Group