Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Step by slow step the Marine searches for improvised
explosive devices. Careful not to go too fast, he sweeps back and forth making
sure he covers every inch before him to ensure two things; his safety and the
safety of the Marines to his left and right. One misstep and it could be his
with Alpha Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division,
participated in a week-long, Counter-IED course March 2-5. The course was
designed to teach and challenge Marines on the dangers and counter measures of
IEDs in a combat zone.
started on Monday going over IED indicators,” said 2nd Lt. Ian Simpson, a platoon
commander with Alpha Company, “They looked for anything that might be out of
the ordinary, something that doesn’t belong in nature or naturally grow.
Tuesday and Wednesday we went over metal detector lanes and holley sticks,
listening to different tones you hear for what object you’re going over.”
holley stick is a long metal rod utilized by combat engineer Marines to help them
feel for any wires that are attached to an IED. It is implemented by scraping
along the ground and entrances to compounds for trip wires that could detonate
“The main purpose of CIED training
is so the Marines understand the biggest threat on the battlefield is the IED,”
said Paul Albaugh, a training specialist with Marine Corps Engineer School. “It’s
the most violent weapon on the battlefield, the most casualty producing weapon
being used by terrorists, and we give the Marines the tools to both recognize
the presence of an IED and respond to one. We then expect them to conduct the
five c’s which are confirm the presence of an IED, clear the area, check the
area, cordon off the area and control the area.”
Dakota Ashwood, a squad leader with Alpha Co., said that attending the CIED
course helps his unit maintain a combat ready and proficient mindset in the
combat engineer field.
we’re doing here is just one aspect of being a combat engineer,” said Ashwood.
“Combat engineers are proficient in demolitions, mobility, counter-mobility and
building wire obstacles. Becoming
proficient in this will help us become more polished, well-rounded combat
engineers. Once we’re proficient in one aspect we can make sure we’re
proficient in another aspect of our job,
so we can be successful wherever we go.”
said that CIED training is essential to 2nd CEB’s mission accomplishment
because IED’s aren’t just centralized to Afghanistan, but are a global threat
and will continue to be a global threat so having effective tactics, techniques
and procedures in place is important.
said that a big part of maintaining mission accomplishment is making sure that
the unit is also maintaining cohesion with each other in order to keep trust
within the unit.
unit cohesion is always done by being out in the field together,” said Ashwood.
“I think brotherhood is forged from bad times and bad situations and you can’t
really have a strong or firm engineer platoon without a little bit of
struggling and heavy lifting together.”
Simpson is looking to see how his non-commissioned officers handle new
leadership roles along with how his platoon is becoming more cohesive as a
trying to evaluate which one of our NCOs have a strong understanding of what’s
going on and which ones are stepping up into those leadership roles,” said
Simpson. “We’re looking for them to step up in the squad leader and fire team
leader positions and to really take control instead of us micromanaging them.”
these aspects of training were finally tied together during a culminating event
that tested the Marines, in a realist scenario, on their ability to patrol into
an area using the holley stick and metal detector, and to react to a simulated
IED explosion in their vicinity.
culminating event, which is an immediate action lane with simulated IEDs, is
pretty realistic,” said Albaugh. “The devices that we use are pertinent to what
they may see in a theatre of operation to include the possibility of a hoax
IED, but the IEDs we use also have simulated detonations so it’s a combination
of air and powder and it really gets them in the mindset of it were an actual
IED, how they would recognize and react to it.”
said that the best part of the course is the culminating event, because the
instructors do an amazing job of making sure the students understand everything
they’ve learned. The culminating event also is where everything learned comes
together and is applied while under an immense amount of stress. The instructors
create this stress by firing blanks from machine guns, and by utilizing dust
cloud IEDs that explode to simulate a real IED.
said that each time he attends this course he takes away a few new things that
he can share with his fellow Marines. He hopes that maybe those lessons can
help keep them safe during deployments.
taken away how to use things like jammers that block radio frequencies used to
detonate remote controlled IEDs, how to effectively use a holley stick, and how
to maintain an extra 15 feet of standoff when interrogating a possible IED,”
said Ashwood. “All of these things I’ve taken away, and some things I’ve taken
away from courses in the past, have helped me keep myself and other Marines
safe in country.”
Albaugh and Ashwood agree that the course is beneficial to Marines who take it,
but Ashwood advised that the class is only as beneficial as the effort the
Marines put into it.
it seriously,” said Ashwood. “Take time to ask the instructors to explain
things more in depth. Don’t leave the course if you don’t have a firm
understanding of any of the enablers that they teach you out here. Make sure
that you ask and don’t leave here without taking in as much as you can, because
for some this could be the only CIED training they get before being deployed
into a real-life situation. This is where you can learn everything; the tools
are here, you just have to take advantage of them.”