MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
When Marines patrol onto grounds previously untouched by combat boots, they can’t assume the soil is safe from dangers such as enemy traps, weapons or improvised explosive devices (IED).
From vast desert plains to rigid mountainous terrain, foot patrollers can cover these areas from end to end safely with the expertise of 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. 2nd Platoon, Company C, performed sweeps for mines and other hazardous materials during a route clearance exercise held here Feb. 25.
The training was a refresher course for Marines to relearn how to check areas for mines, weapon caches and other hidden dangers that are likely to be encountered in a combat zone.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Murabito, a platoon sergeant with 2nd Platoon, said he feels the training is absolutely necessary.
“This kind of training is extremely important because of all the unmarked minefields in other countries,” said the Seaford, Del. native. “We don’t know if certain areas could be a danger to our Marines or even civilians.”
During the training, Marines from the squad provided an outer perimeter security while one Marine examined an area of terrain with hazard-finding instruments.
Lance Cpl. Brian C. Williams, a combat engineer with the battalion, used an advanced metal detector to check for mines or improvised explosive devices.
The Marines that provided security for Williams gave him a wide area of protection for two reasons— it gave him a large area to scan at once and a wider area of security also keeps other Marines outside of a potential blast radius.
Halfway down the path, Williams signaled to the back of the formation as he boxed off a small area. A Marine ran up, probing the soil, checking for what Williams believed may have been something harmful.
After finding that it was clear and that the area was safe, Williams moved further down the path, making sure to be thorough.
To ensure that the combat engineer can be completely thorough, the Marine Corps fields several different tools to help in their mission.
The first tool in the combat engineer’s belt is the ANPSS-14, the advanced metal detector that uses ground penetrating radar to sense the density of objects underneath the earth.
The reason this piece of equipment is so special is because some mines are made mostly from plastic and have no way of being detected by a modern metal detector.
While the ANPSS-14 has the capability to be used as just a metal detector, the Marine Corps still uses the older model ANPSS-12, which is solely a metal detection unit.
Williams said that both models are fielded because there may not be enough advanced systems fielded for every Marine to use one.
While similar to a commercial unit, the ANPSS-12 is extremely powerful and can detect amounts of metal that may weigh less than a gram.
As the Marines finished the exercise, they went over briefly what they had done right and what could have gone better.
“This is going to give them the opportunity to say, ‘that looks out of place,’” Murabito said. “It’s going to get them through dangerous areas safely.”
Williams said that going through it multiple times helped Marines get a better feel for it.
“This training is a great refresher for everyone, including the people that have been in the fleet for a while,” Williams said.
With powerful tools and intense training, the Marines of 2nd CEB hope they can be the first Marines that people call when they need to move through areas safely. Since their efforts have saved countless lives in the past and will continue to in the future, they said that is something worth training for.