News: Repetition is the best teacher: Marines learn counter IED tactics.
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — To an untrained eye, Operation Barma looks like desert wasteland with a few trashed roads. To a Marine preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, it’s much more.
A properly trained eye realizes that Operation Barma is a desert wasteland filled with simulated improvised explosive devices designed to teach Marines how to combat Afghanistan’s biggest threat.
Marines with Personal Security Detail, Regimental Combat Team-7, trained at Operation Barma at Camp Wilson, July 18 in preparation for an upcoming deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Counter-IED training is one of the most common exercises for a unit preparing to deploy.
“Currently, the biggest threat we are going to have is the IED threat,” said Gunnery Sgt. Mark Erhardt, the platoon commander with PSD, RCT-7. “With the aid of the Marine Corps Engineer Center guys that are out here training us, the efficiency of finding IEDs and conducting immediate actions has greatly improved.”
The Marines received a refresher course last week before this training, and the constant practice is necessary to save lives.
“Repetition is the most important thing when it comes to finding IEDs, because when it starts happening for real we don’t want the Marines second guessing,” said Erhardt, a native of Brookfield, Conn. “Through repetition comes muscle memory, so that when adrenaline is flowing they don’t have to process as much.”
The training included a morning of classes and an afternoon of practical application. The Marines were given an opportunity to use the metal detectors and IED jammers they will work with in Afghanistan. They also learned about new IED tactics and went on a platoon patrol.
“The guys at MCEC taught us a class on spotting IEDs in terrain and different avenues of approach to help us find more IEDs,” said Cpl. Michael Munoz, a motor transport operator with PSD.
This isn’t the first time PSD Marines hae trained to find IEDs, and it won’t be their last.
“When I first got to the platoon, the Marines didn’t know much about IEDs,” said Munoz, a 23-year-old native of Colton, Calif. “Since then we have been doing lots of training, and their knowledge has been growing, growing and growing.
“It’s 100 percent important that we keep training. Everyone is excited to deploy, but you have to stay focused.”
That focus will allow the Marines to be successful when they deploy.
“This group of Marines is an intelligent group, physically strong and has been together for a year,” Erhardt said. “I do not have one vehicle commander that cannot call in a situation or make a decision when necessary.”