Training Team Helps European Soldiers Counter IED’s

Training Team Helps European Soldiers Counter IED’s

By Dialogo
March 16, 2011

Improvised explosive devices are the weapons of choice for insurgents, and representatives from Europe and the Middle East participated in the U.S. Army in Europe and the Joint Multinational Training Command’s Coalition Counter-IED Training Conference, at the Hohenfels Training Area in Hohenfels, Germany.

The conference, sponsored by the Badger Team, a specialized training team that enhances the already realistic training environment at Hohenfels Training Area by injecting current, real-world experiences and lessons-learned into Mission Rehearsal Exercises and training events brought the coalition partners together to learn Counter-IED, or C-IED, techniques and procedures, enable cross-talk between nations, and promote an understanding of the current C-IED operating environment.

“It was an opportunity for our partner nations to share tactics, techniques and procedures. Everybody has got a different perspective,” said Lt. Col. Michael D. Oliver, senior Counter-IED Trainer. “We’re going to work together. It directly affects Soldiers, and it’s about getting all our partners to move beyond the focus of limitations toward building capacity so they can train themselves.”

The Badger team was stood-up to coordinate and synchronize C-IED training at JMTC, he said.

About 30 percent of the forces that support the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan are coalition forces, and of those more than 80 percent are from the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility.

In March, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates urged combatant commanders to develop concrete actions to assist coalition partners and enhance their Counter-IED capabilities in the areas of equipment, training and technical expertise, and the Badger Team was just one of the initiatives to support the directive.

Members of the Badger team were selected based on Military Occupational Specialty, deployment history and special skills. For example, a member serving on the Defeat-the-Device team would have specialized experience working with route clearance equipment.

“We try to find it before it explodes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul C. Burk, lead for the Defeat-the-Device Team. “We want Soldiers to know an IED can be anywhere. We teach them to think like the enemy.”

The Soldier learns to collect and preserve evidence, identify and exploit the enemy’s vulnerabilities, and maintain an offensive posture, said Burk.

Gathering evidence and performing forensics on the IEDs means U.S. and multinational forces can trace the source of the IED to a particular bomb-maker or organization.

“It’s about saving lives. That’s the bottom line,” said Staff Sgt. Gus Hurtado, Defeat-the-Device trainer. “We would prefer to defeat the device before there is a blast.”