MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Improvised explosive devices are one of the main causes of deaths in Iraq for civilians and service members alike. To prepare them to face this threat Marines participate in vigorous training at a special course designed for realistic simulations..
Marines from Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, trained at Landing Zone Plover here, Sept. 19, where they were taught how to react to IEDs and enemy contact while on a patrol.
“These IED simulators are as close to a real life IED as you can get,” said Sgt. Jonathan G. Lawson, 2nd Platoon’s guide and Spring Hill, Fla., native. “They are effective in training and 100 percent safe.”
In Iraq, insurgents can hide IEDs anywhere. Marines must be on the lookout for any potential threat from even the most mundane sources.
“They can hide IEDs on the streets, in rubble, in cars, or anywhere. You have to keep your eyes open,” said Lance Cpl. Zachery J. Kelly, a designated marksman with 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon. “Incase an IED does explode, we have to know how to react to that situation.”
The Marines were taught how to respond to an IED when they spot one and how to care for any casualties or wounded causes by an IED attack.
During the training exercise, the simulated IEDs were placed along a dirt road in the middle of a forest. They were dug into the ground and hidden from sight.
As the Marines patrol down the road, they looked for anything suspicious that could be a potential threat. Whether it was cords, loose dirt, or even a can hidden under some leaves, the Marines were wary of anything.
When a group of Marines passes the IED, Marines acting as insurgents deeper in the forest detonate it in a thunderous explosion of brown smoke that fills the road. Marines touched by the brown smoke were considered casualties and the others dealt with them accordingly.
“There are no pyrotechnics in these IEDs,” Lawson explained. “When they detonate, there is a loud explosion with a non-toxic powder sprayed outward.”
Kelly, who was at the front of the patrol, was one of the Marines hit by the explosion.
“It kind of shocks you at first, you’re not sure what to do,” said Kelly as he lay on the road and the rest of his squad set up security around him. “But I guess that’s the whole point of all this training right?”
Many Marines from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, are scheduled to deploy for the first time later this year. This training was part of their seven-day field training exercise conducted in the Camp Lejeune area.
“This training is essential to all Marines’ survival because IEDs are such a huge threat,” Lawson explained. “With this training they will know how to locate potential IEDs before they cause harm which will hopefully reduce casualties when they deploy.”