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Defeating the worldwide asymmetric fight

Published: 01:04PM December 20th, 2012

The asymmetric fight that Soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have faced for more than a decade, created a need to conduct counter improvised explosive device training. The Asymmetric Counter Improvised Explosive Device program started in 2008 in response to the growing threat and the need to educate Soldiers deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The initial classes introduced Class 101 to improvised explosive devices. It featured a walking lane less than 150 meters wide with a variety of IEDs along the way and classified briefings about the threat ahead at different deployment destinations.

Today, the AW/C-IED team teaches eight subjects: biometrics, company intelligence support team, site exploitation, tactical questioning, counter radio-controlled IED electronic warfare, IED/homemade explosive awareness training, handheld detectors and the robotic training. Subjects are further broken down into leader orientation briefs and operator courses. The basic operator’s courses are taught in both classroom and field environments.

Other courses focus on mobility/counter-mobility and C-IED. The CREW course teaches Soldiers on how to operate all forms of counter IED electronic warfare devices from a vehicle platform to individual Soldier protection units. The HHD course trains students on the Mine hound, Gizmo, and DSP27. All three HHDs are taught separately and given a practical exercise on the use and ability of the operator to find, and identify possible buried IEDs. Robotics uses four models: the Small Unmanned Guided Vehicle, the Fast and Tactical, Talon and the ultra light, also known as the “throw bot.” Maneuver units, EOD personnel and combat engineers are now receiving robotics training that had previously been available only to specialized MOSs.

Given the scale of training required to educate and equip regular Army forces deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, FORSCOM established counter-IED integration cells as home station training providers for its main CONUS installations in 2008. The CI2C mission at JBLM is integrated into the I Corps AW/C-IED team, a section of the Corps G3’s Training and Exercises Division — a mix of five Army combat engineers, infantry and field artillery. The Robotic Systems Joint Project Office who are the primary instructors of these robots from service, maintenance and field operation.

The team work out of the Multi-Function Counter IED Facility on Lewis North — the first training area of its kind, providing over-the-shoulder mentorship to Soldiers to meet FORSCOM pre-deployment training guidance and integrate all aspects of AW/C-IED into brigade training. When brigade combat teams conduct their Army Synchronization Resource Conference, the team is there to explain its capabilities and to gain ‘buy-in’ from the unit leaders. The training model typically runs parallel tracks, educating the unit staff on the concepts of counter-insurgency, identifying and neutralizing the human network that supports IED operations in a locale, or Attack the Network.

The team’s ability to locally train all of these lines of effort allows massive cost savings over sending Soldiers on temporary assignments for training. Units can walk in, sit down with team members, identify their training needs and map out their class schedules. The team’s class schedule is integrated with the Army’s Training and Readiness resources System and can schedule special unit requests and collective training support at JBLM and at the Yakima Training Center.

AW/C-IED remains available after deployment for sustainment support to the deployed unit, training to its rear detachment, and connection to other resources both within the theater and outside it. The team remains in touch with units, maintaining currency on the changing threat environment and helping units react and adapt more quickly to changing circumstances. This symbiotic approach gives the unit additional external resources for research, intelligence and analysis, and it helps the team provide updates to unit instruction for those preparing to deploy.

As current combat operations in the Middle East and Central Asia wind down, the IED will remain a tool of choice in other regions for irregular combat formations looking to counter established conventional military forces or influence regime change. Criminal organizations have adapted insurgent tactics to protect logistics facilities, establish territory and deter investigation.

IEDs are likely here to stay. The institutional knowledge embodied by the AW/C-IED team works to remain a reliable, current resource for Soldiers who face the threat.

William Dick and Nathan Kane, also of CI2C, contributed to this report.