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TBS Keeps IED Training Up to Speed

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va — Since the war in Iraq began in 2003, more than 1,700 of the nearly 4,200 U.S. fatalities have been caused by improvised explosive devices employed against troops in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


10/17/2008 By Cpl. Travis J. Crewdson, Marine Corps Base Quantico

In an effort to counter enemy tactics and combat the successful use of these lethal weapons, students at The Basic School are taught to identify and react to devices in IED lane training.

Lieutenants from Fox Company at TBS experienced training Tuesday at Murphy’s Demo Range as they entered week 15 of the 26-week training cycle. After classroom training, the student-officers get up-close IED training from the Marines of Combat Engineer Platoon, part of Combat Instructor Company.

‘‘The purpose of this training is to expose (the students) to currently used trends and IED indicators,” said Sgt. Victor Magana, senior instructor at Combat Engineer Platoon. ‘‘Insurgents have habits just like everyone else, and that creates these common trends.”

Magana said that much of what he teaches is based off reports from deployed troops around the world as well as his experiences in Afghanistan, where he saw several examples of what he shows his classes.

After some instruction and a closer look at some Marine-made versions of IEDs, the students try their hand at identifying and reacting to employed devices in three themed IED lane trails. The ‘‘Korean trail” contains devices reported or suspected to be used in Korea. The ‘‘Afghan trail” is themed toward desert operations, the types of devices used and their methods of employment. The ‘‘Vietnam trail” is set in the tree line and serves as a reminder that not all IEDs are roadside bombs.

‘‘(Combat) is not always in the desert,” Magana said. ‘‘Jungle warfare could come back, and as Marines, we have to be ready for anything. I want our students to be aware of their surroundings, understand the (intelligence reports) they receive and not be new to the concept.”

Along the lanes, TBS students perform a mock foot patrol in full combat gear to maintain their combat mindset. Magana said, the simulation devices they encounter range in size, complexity and employment. Some are victim activated, while others may use command wire, remote activation or multiple incorporated methods. Of course, if a lieutenant happens to step on a pressure plate on the ‘‘Afghan trail,” he will not receive the Purple Heart, just a lot of white powder.

According to Capt. Donnie Fricks, Combat Engineer Platoon commander, the training is part of a combat engineer field exercise, which also incorporates two more days of mobility and counter-mobility demolition applications. During these drills, each student-officer gets to make their own ‘‘bang” using C4 and TNT, learning to employ it to remove or create obstacles in an effort to turn, fix, block or disrupt the enemy.

Some of the Fox Company lieutenants will get a chance to use the techniques they learned this week in their third field exercise by incorporating it into their battle plans. Continued IED detection and reaction training can make the difference in Marine casualties when these officers lead their troops into battlefields around the world.