CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Iraqi Army soldiers are learning new ways to stop the insurgents from being effective with the help of the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.
The Marines of the Combat Engineer Platoon, attached to the battalion, instructed the Iraqi soldiers on how to use metal detectors to search for weapons caches.
“The Iraqi soldiers can pick out things that may seem normal to the Marines, because they know more of what to look for when the insurgents bury ordnance,” said 1st Lt. Mick D. Hoeflinger, the Combat Engineer Platoon Commander.
With 24 Iraqi soldiers in tow, the Marines picked a stretch of road between two main thoroughfares for the Iraqi’s to test what they had learned the day before.
In addition to the training in Fallujah, six combat engineers went to Camp India to teach the soldiers how to operate the AN/PSS-12 metal detector. They started with the general capabilities of the metal detector, followed by the characteristics of a cache in the area of operation and how to use the detector to find a cache.
Once the classroom instruction was finished, the soldiers were shown how to set up a search formation and practiced what they learned.
“The soldiers listened to what we said and caught on quickly with what we showed them with the metal detectors,” Hoeflinger stated.
After arriving at the sweep site, the soldiers were broken up into teams with one instructor per team to search the four-kilometer stretch of road. The Marines started out with the metal detectors showing the soldiers again what kind of terrain to sweep over. Thirty minutes later, the Iraqi soldiers took over the sweep process.
An hour into the sweep, the team made their first substantial find; a 120mm tank round. There were no explosives inside, but it could be used as an improvised explosive device.
By the end of the mission, the Marines and Iraqi soldiers had found two 155mm artillery shells, five bomblets, a tank round and numerous fuses. The engineers used explosive compounds to destroy the ordnance they found during the operation.
“The Iraqi soldiers did and excellent job of searching the area and finding the ordnance,” Hoeflinger said. “We were impressed at how well they did on their first time out.”