CAMP DWYER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
The detector blared as the soldier swept over the disturbed patch of dirt with the Compact Metal Detector. He carefully marked a square around the suspected improvised explosive device by using the edge of the CMD.
With the rest of his fellow soldiers and the Marine instructors watching his every move, he reverted back to his training and slowly backed away from the threat. He placed the detector to the side, laid on his stomach and carefully began to scrape the dirt up with an improvised tool to find the metal object. Under a few inches of dirt and rocks laid a blue metal object with an electrical wire hanging out of its side.
“Good job soldier,” said Hoxie, Kan., native Lance Cpl. Clayton Rall to the soldier who had successfully and correctly found the training IED.
The Embedded Training Team with Regimental Combat Team 1 conducted counter-IED training for Afghan National Army soldiers as a part of their basic training before heading out to their permanent places of duty.
The training kicked off under the clear sky with two rows of attentive ANA soldiers and Marines modeling the CMD. Two interpreters stood alongside the Marines translating all points and comments the Marines said.
Rall believes the training will be vital to the soldier’s future and the ANA as a fighting force.
“Everything we teach them here, they will use when they’re out leading foot patrols in the middle of Afghanistan,” explained Rall. “We do our best to teach them the basics and more to make sure these guys can detect and verify IEDs on their own.”
The class itself usually consists of about 80 ANA soldiers and is broken down into a morning and afternoon session. The morning part of the training goes over the functions of the CMD and how it’s used for IED detection.
The soldiers then return in the afternoon for a refresher and practical application. One by one, soldiers like Spinegul Mayan use the CMD and demonstrate what they’ve learned through the IED training lanes.
“It is good because I can teach my friends [in the ANA] to sweep the IED lane,” said Mayan. “I can show them how to find IEDs and search them out.”
The lanes are made up of several strips of white marking tape and metal objects hidden beneath the soldiers’ feet.
The soldiers sweep side to side every bit of land and reiterate the lessons just taught by the Marines.
Broken Arrow, Okla., native Cpl. Joshua E. Berryhill said he enjoys seeing them volunteering to demonstrate in front of their peers.
“It's great to see these guys stand up and get involved by teaching the class to their own soldiers,” said the 22-year-old Broken Arrow High School graduate.
The IED lane advisor with the ETT, RCT-1, watches over the soldiers as they carefully demonstrate how to sweep through the lanes. They must listen for a long beeping sound that indicates there is a metal object in the area being swept over.
The soldiers must then carefully mark off the temporary dangerous area with the end of the CMD by marking a square and then lay beside it to begin inspecting the marked section.
Berryhill must ensure they get every step right and take the training seriously. He is confident that the soldiers will take what they’ve learned and employ it well outside the wire.
“Sure, sometimes the whole language barrier is a challenge, but a lot of these soldiers are like sponges and absorb everything you teach them,” said Berryhill. “That’s a big plus when you’re trying to teach them something as important as counter-IED. They [the soldiers] have come a long way from when they first started the training and I know that they’ll do great when they leave here.”