MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- With thousands of Marines preparing to deploy to Iraq, training to meet the challenges of a hostile environment is a high priority. The threat of terrorist attacks is still very real, even though attacks on U.S. and coalition forces have decreased since the capture of Saddam Hussein. To combat this threat, Marines from The II Marine Expeditionary Force participated in a class designed to teach them how to recognize, deal with and most importantly – survive – an encounter with improvised explosive devices.
With the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment scheduled to deploy to Iraq later this year, F Company took advantage of a slide show brief by Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians on IED (boobytrap) devices and then applied what they’d learned.
“Improvised explosive devices are the number one cause of all coalition casualties,” said Capt. Tim M. Bairstow, commanding officer, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.
“We’re here to learn how to properly defend ourselves against this threat.” The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native continued, “The best tactic we can use against this threat is common sense.”
The class consisted of a slide show, which described all the aspects of the explosive devices found during terrorist attacks and how they were used. The EOD technicians passed around models of the explosive devices during the slide show presentation so the Marine could get a hands-on feel for the weapons and how easy they are to make.
“All (the materials) the terrorists are using are easily obtainable from a local store. With the Internet and knowledge gained from other terrorist organizations, it’s easier than ever for them to make an IED,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Burghardt, and EOD technician with 2nd Force Service Support Group. “Because of the very real possibility these Marines will see these devices in Iraq, we’re giving them to skills to recognize them; what to do once they’re spotted, and then how to properly notify EOD technicians.”
The Marines need to know all the different types of IED found in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the different methods in which they were employed. The design and use of explosives is only limited by the ingenuity of the terrorist using them, Burghardt explained.
After learning about the different devices, Marines were shown slides of the actual damage an IED can cause. This was done, Burghardt explained, to let Marines know how important it is to be far away from an explosion, and to make sure the cover you are taking is clear of other IEDs as well.
“Terrorists examine an area, and determine where U.S. forces would take cover when they notice an IED. The main IED could be a decoy, with the real (explosives) planted where the Marines would take cover,” Burghardt said.
After the class concluded, F Company Marines went on a mock patrol around their barracks, with a model IED and unexploded ordnance hidden in various places. The Marines were tested to see if they could recognize the devices and follow the procedures to find cover, check their surroundings, and then radio for the EOD technicians to investigate the suspected IED. With the devices disguised in something as commonplace as a sandbag, everything was suspect.
“The practical application of what we learn is really the best training,” said Pfc. Kingsley E. Guerra, a rifleman with F Company. The Miami, Fla. native continued, “getting a hands-on feel for what it’s like to recognize these devices … will save lives.”