CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- In the ever evolving landscape of war here in the Al Anbar province, Marines are exposed to explosives that are becoming increasingly harder to detect, which is why Sgt. Cary Anderson and others Marines received instruction on new explosive countermeasures, July 7.
Second Marine Division personnel were familiarized with some of the more recent improvised explosive devices that insurgents are planting on the roadways and patrol routes Marines expose themselves to. The threat has had a huge physical and psychological effect on troops here, which is why IED Countermeasures Equipment has been added to their arsenal.
The ICE outfit on vehicles is an electronic system designed to obstruct or jam other electronic triggering devices insurgents use to set off vehicle-borne or hidden explosives before the Marines encounter them, according to Anderson, an Olive Branch, Ill. native and 1996 graduate of Egyptian High School who recently attended classes on the equipment.
“It’s beneficial to know what measures are out there to protect Marines and know how to use the systems to enhance the safety,” said Anderson. “The ICE system freezes certain radio frequency triggers, hence the name. It’s mounted inside vehicles and it’s easy to use,” said the division combat operations center watch chief.
Anderson and other Marines have been exposed to the threat while riding on vehicle convoys between camps here. The bombs have been hidden on guardrails, under cardboard or hidden in roadside trash. Other, greater threats have been vehicle-borne devices, where insurgents drive cars laden with explosives directly into a targeted group of service members.
When the division first arrived in Iraq in March, 2003, its vehicles were specially outfitted with armor. Since then, additional fabricated armor plating like L-Shaped doors and ballistic blankets were added. Now, the ICE will be an element of forward protection, adding a sense of assuredness to the troops before they even roll off camp.
“The initial threat from remote control initiated IEDs came from low frequency, low-powered devices such as cheaply made garage door openers, key fobs and doorbells. The ICE outfit and similar systems use relatively low-powered radio frequency energy to jam the signals of RC initiators and prevent them from functioning at a distance, thereby enabling adequate protection,” said Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. William L. Nyland, in a recent statement before the House Armed Services Committee.
Cellular, satellite and long range cordless telephones are some of the most used initiators for these devices and the Marine Corps is countering them with the ICE system.
Knowledge of this kind has been helpful, according to Anderson. The designs, complexity and simplicity of the devices are said to be limitless.
It’s an ongoing and escalating battle against these destructive devices, but the Marine Corps has spent tens of millions of dollars on these systems to protect its Marines.
“When I instruct at SOI (School of Infantry), I hope to be teaching new Marines about how to use these countermeasures,” said Anderson. “They need to know what they’re going to be up against in modern warfare – and how to react to these threats.”