News: RCT-5 sweeps through counter IED training
Story by Staff Sgt. Andrew Miller
CAMP DWYER, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Regimental Combat Team 5 Marines and sailors recently completed counter improvised explosive device training here, Aug. 21.
The counter IED course was one of the first training exercises conducted by the RCT in order to prepare its members for the challenges they will face while operating in southern Helmand province.
“The biggest thing we want these guys to get out of this is confidence in their tools, to be able to employ a metal detector as well as to be able to operate comfortably in an IED environment,” said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Ramsey, EOD team leader, and a native of Charlottesville, Va. “The IED threat out here is obviously very well known.”
Explosive ordnance disposal technicians are embedded with infantry units to gain first-hand knowledge of the IED threat Marines face on a daily basis. The knowledge and experience of EOD technicians and infantry Marines arms the members of RCT-5 with the most up to date tactics, techniques and procedures in the counter IED fight.
The course began with in depth classroom instruction covering types, production, placement and detection of IEDs. Particular emphasis was placed on the production and components of homemade explosives. A Marine’s ability to identify these components and prevent the production of HME is instrumental in decreasing the number of IED attacks on coalition forces.
Practical application followed classroom instruction. Marines and sailors acquired hands-on experience with various metal detectors, sweeping narrow lanes of earth laced with simulated IEDs. As students found these phony threats, instructors insured they were using the proper procedures to identify and mark the simulated devices.
Students next moved from the IED lanes to the enhanced IED course. This course placed Marines and sailors in an environment similar to those they will face while patrolling in southern Helmand. They worked together as a team maneuvering through simulated rural and urban terrain, utilizing everything they had learned during classroom instruction and practical application.
More often than not members of RCT-5 put their earlier training to good use, finding simulated IEDs and quickly marking or clearing the threat. Complacency, however, was rewarded by the sound of a controlled detonation of C4 adjacent to the training area, reminding students that the counter IED fight is a high stakes one.
“The training was different than anything we did stateside because we’re learning from an EOD team who knows the area of operation and has first-hand knowledge of the enemy’s TTPs,” said Sgt. William R. Biggs, a Personal Security Detachment vehicle commander and native of Frankfurt, Ky. “As a leader, this helps me ensure the safety of the Marines under my charge and the completion of our mission.”
Now that RCT-5 has boots on the ground in southern Helmand, every training evolution is approached with a renewed sense of purpose.
"This hits a little closer to home since we are in country now,” said Pvt. Corey Porter, a machine gunner from Columbia, Mo., with the PSD. “You definitely take it seriously because this kind of stuff is going to save your life and make sure the Marines behind you get home as well.”
Editors Note: RCT-5 is currently transitioning with RCT-1 and is assigned to 2nd Marine Division (Forward) which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.