CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — The counter improvised explosive device course, which is part of Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration, is more than just a refresher, it is a safety net for all who deploy to Regional Command Southwest.
The eight-hour CIED course is given daily on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, and it prepares service members who recently arrived in country, a last chance to get real experience.
The training is unique in its own way because it allows the students to be creative with combat scenarios and allows new members to ask questions from Marines who just got back from the fight.
The course is available to all coalition forces including Americans, Georgians, Jordanians, Dutch and Department of Defense civilians.
The instructors are DOD civilians, Marines, a Navy corpsman and a detection dog.
Although some of the day is classroom instruction, most of the training is hands-on with members performing battlefield exercises.
The visual and training aids are a guide to assist in what to look out for in the field. The instructors lay out the differences between rockets and missiles; homemade explosives and unknown bulk explosives. They emphasized that making a bomb is not rocket-science, but explosives are a deadly force.
Lance Cpl. David Kasper, an instructor, took the group out to the lane recognition part of the training. He explained to them to never be too sure of anything.
“If you didn’t check it yourself, then it was not checked,” said Kasper, a native of Pahrump, Nev. “The safest ground is the ground you are standing on.”
He gave the new group advice based on his experience as a tanker in Sangin Valley.
The next part of the training is the IED detection dog. Cpl. David Norris, a dog handler with the cadre, talked about his experiences with his dog, Crash.
Norris, a native of Vacaville, Calif., volunteered to be a dog handler during June 2011 and said it’s a great experience. He and Crash have become close and they train together every day. They work out together and run through different training exercises daily.
“Crash was skittish at first. But after working with the explosives for awhile, he got used to it. Now he is well trained and does a great job,” said Norris.
The augments from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, who were recently in Sangin, told the group of their experience, and answer any questions. Most of the questions were about their area of operation, what local life is like, and what it’s like to work with interpreters.
On the IED lanes, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Derheimer, from Bloomington, Ind., an explosives ordnance disposal technician, and Douglas Briganti, Counter IED Mobile Training Team instructor, showed the group how to handle metal detectors.
“One of the big advantages we have on the RSOI lanes here at Camp Leatherneck is that we are so close to the fight,” said Briganti. “We are able get the devices being used by the insurgents in near real time.”
Briganti finds his experience rewarding.
“I get to work one on one with Marines and soldiers, and give them the benefit of my experience,” Briganti said.
Briganti, a former FBI agent and retired Naval special operations officer, explained that the course is also taught to special operations forces, Afghan soldiers, EOD and troops from other countries.
Role playing is an important part of the training, said Sgt. Seth Regeczi, chief instructor at the RSOI course. Regeczi, a native of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., teaches the students that many different situations can happen while out there. Having them play out some of the scenarios empowers the Marines to think on their feet.
Regeczi told them of his experiences as he ran the mass causality course; he added chaos by shouting orders and pushing the Marines to move smarter.
The Marines receive last-minute battlefield reminders; how to call in a 9-line medical evacuation, tactical field care and practice on dismounted patrols.
Although the training is intense, the instructors want the students to also have fun.
“It does not hurt to practice,” said Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Perez-Lopez, the non-commissioned officer in charge at the RSOI course and a native of El Paso, Texas. “It puts the Marines in real-life situations and prepares them with the last-minute reminders before going out.”
“The training is vital in keeping the Marines and soldiers safe,” Briganti said.