CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Soldiers with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment received counter-improvised explosive device level-two training, in preparation for their upcoming mission in Iraq Feb. 13 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
Soldiers with the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), stationed throughout Iraq, traveled to Kuwait to train roughly 2,400 incoming Soldiers on the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, as well as finding and reacting to IED's Feb. 9 through Feb. 24.
Lt. Col. Edwin N. Gomez, the C-IED officer in charge with the 13th ESC, said this training is normally taught in Iraq.
Gomez, a Ceiba, Puerto Rico, native, said the training gives Soldiers the skills to identify and react to IED's. The instructors also reviewed the most recent patterns and techniques used by insurgents in Iraq.
All Soldiers who will be regularly exposed to IED's during their deployment must be level-two certified, he said.
"Everybody that's going to be working outside the wire will be going through the training," he said. "We're starting now. This is the first unit coming up north that will be trained here in Kuwait on [C-IED] level 2. We're training all the ESC companies and force protection companies."
The training occurs in three phases, said Gomez. Students begin with classroom instruction. Then they participate in a static lane training exercise, in which instructors walk Soldiers through a training ground filled with mock IED's. After that, Soldiers drive MRAP's to find training IED's and learn how to react to them.
"We integrate the classroom environment with a static lane, where they go and identify the indicators, and then they actually go out and drive and react to those IEDs," he said.
Gomez said the 278th Soldiers picked up the training quickly and communicated very well throughout. They clearly wanted to learn from experienced Soldiers, he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Paul L. Collier, an instructor with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 198th Combat Arms Battalion out of Senatobia, Miss., 155th HBCT, 13th ESC, said the trainers have recent experience with operations in Iraq and readily gave their time and knowledge to ensure the safety of incoming Soldiers.
"[The incoming Soldiers] find it a little more interesting when they hear firsthand accounts and the things we've actually witnessed," he said.
Collier said the training gives younger, newer Soldiers a better understanding of Iraq, from the mouths of Veterans with experience, than a lecture or slides would.
"I think it's great," he said. "I think that it's helping to save lives."
Sgt. 1st Class Jerry D. Asberry, a platoon sergeant with E Troop, 2nd Squadron, 278th ACR out of Jamestown, Tenn., said the instructors were professional and understood the enemy tactics, techniques and procedures in Iraq.
Asberry, a Jamestown, Tenn., native, used a coaching reference to explain the situation at hand. He said knowing the opponent's ballgame, their plan and their playbook would definitely help the 278th Soldiers.
"I deployed last time during Operation Iraqi Freedom," he said. "This level of training is much better than I received back then, so these guys are more prepared than we were the last time."
The training improvements and the instructors' knowledge and understanding of the enemy and IED's were remarkable, said Asberry.
"I have talked to several of the 155th Soldiers and they all seem very familiar with their [area of operations] ... and have passed on a lot of good information to us," he said.
Asberry said when he was deployed the first time, he and his fellow Soldiers learned on the job. Now, Soldiers training in Kuwait can prepare mentally and tactically for their mission.
"It's allowed us to prepare a lot more in depth," he said.