MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Once improvised explosive devices were introduced in Operation Iraqi Freedom they were an expected and daunting threat. The threat of IEDs harming Marines is still present, but it is now reduced. What has changed in the past five years? Training.
“During my first tour in  IED training was part of stability and sustainment training,” said Gene Pollock, a retired Marine and IED defeat instructor at the Engineer Center of Excellence on Court House Bay. “In  the training was a two-hour DVD. Since then a lot has changed!”
After Pollock’s 20 years in the Marine Corps Infantry, he took a job teaching Marines how to properly prepare, maneuver and defeat IED threats based on the current threats seen in Iraq.
The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization gathers trends seen in Iraq and passes that information down to the Engineer Center of Excellence so they can accurately train Marines.
“We’ve had entire units change their [standard operating procedures] based on the training they’ve received here,” Pollock explained. “Knowing what the current trends are and adjusting the training really helps. We’re also putting guys on the ground and giving them a chance to do some practical application before they deploy.”
The instructors can simulate almost every type of threat seen in Iraq. Using smoke machines, carbon dioxide and even ordnance shells found in country, the instructors set up real situations to test the Marines preparedness.
After completing the training the Marines feel a greater sense of assurance in their ability to properly respond to IED threats.
“We get out there and learn how to spot IEDs with hands on training, going over [immediate action] drills and physically getting out and performing checks,” said Cpl. Gary S. King II, Security Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
“Our job is to provide security for cargo going from base to base and make to sure the vehicles don’t get touched,” the St. Petersburg, Fla. native explained. “It gives us confidence to know what to look for, how to spot them and what to do when we spot them. It makes a difference being confident that you can do your job.”
King deployed from Aug. 2007 to March 2008 to provide convoy security out of Al Asad Air Base, Iraq and said the training helped keep his squad safe from IED attacks.
“We had no IED explosions,” the 24-year-old said. “We spotted all the IEDs we came across.”
King said the training he received during his first deployment helped him feel prepared and now, as he prepares to deploy a second time, it’s his responsibility to teach Marines who haven’t deployed what he’s learned from his experiences.
“It’s my job to teach them as much as they can learn before we go over there so they can do their jobs and feel confident in the training.”