Weapons 1/1 trains to diminish IED threat during Mojave Viper

14 May 2007 | Lance Cpl. Bryce Muhlenberg

Cpl. Matt D. Reimel warily eyes an unfamiliar dirt mound alongside the road.  He has just learned to direct his convoy to halt and to call to higher headquarters to report the suspicious object. Reimel’s convoy will put out security and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) teams will be deployed to neutralize the threat of the possible roadside bomb.

They would, that is, if this were taking place in Iraq. Instead, however, Reimel and his fellow Marines from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, are taking part in some very realistic training. The training package 1/1 is undertaking at  Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Calif., is designed with the concept that it is never too early to begin training to combat the deadly threat of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

The Marine Corps’ Motorized Operations Training Package (MOTP) is here solely for that reason.  Marines utilized the training at Camp Wilson here May 14 in preparation for their deployment to Iraq.

“It’s vital that Marines are able to protect themselves and their brothers from IED attacks,” said Reimel, a vehicle commander with the company.  “That’s why we are doing IED lane training today.”

The Marines trained in three subject areas. These sections taught the Marines combat lifesaving skills, IED detection and the operation of various anti-IED devices available in theatre. “Coyotes,” members of the Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group (TTECG), teach and evaluate units conducting Mojave Viper training prior to deployment. The “Coyotes” taught classes to reinforce the day’s lessons and bolster the Marine’s knowledge of motorized combat operations.

“The idea is that when they are in country (Iraq) they will already have the skills they need,” said Gunnery Sgt. Exton G. Hurt, a Coyote with 4/1 Echo, TTECG.

The Marines rotated through the three stations during the day’s training.  The first station consisted of an asphalt road with IED’s hidden under and alongside it.  The Marines patrolled the road looking for any signs of a possible IED. 

“Training like this is essential because it ensures Marines can properly operate the vehicle equipment,” said Reimel, a Birmingham, Ala., native.  “It also helps develop their situational awareness, which is extremely important if they want to be able to defend their buddies.”

The road looked like any road in Iraq.  Bags of trash, discarded tires, disturbed earth and small pieces of metal are littered along the length of it.  These were all signs of possible IEDs

“I just want the younger Marines to get an idea of what to look for,” said Reimel, 22, who previously deployed to Al Karmah, Iraq.  “When I was in Iraq, I knew the roads that we traveled like the back of my hand, so I knew what did and didn’t belong.”

Weapons company also practiced procedures for casualty evacuations caused by IEDs.  During this portion of training, one Marine in each High-Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee, was given a card describing the wounds the Marine had received during a simulated IED attack.  As soon as the injuries were announced, the Marines immediately started treating wounds, exiting vehicles, setting up security and working their way to a simulated helicopter landing zone, over 50 yards away.

Reimel, a 2003 Hewitt-Trussville High School graduate, believed the training was especially good for younger Marines, like Pfc. Aaron R. Richardson, an M2 .50 caliber machine-gunner. 

“It’s really good training, especially for me and the other guys who don’t have the experience some other Marines have,” said Richardson.  “Instead of just watching slides on a screen, we are out here, hands on, learning what is going to keep us safe.  I think it’s just what we need.”