Convoy security team keeps vehicles safe on the road
Story and Photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Twist
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP BUERHING, Kuwait — Soldiers with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment received Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Level 2 training in preparation for their upcoming mission in Iraq at Camp Buerhing, Kuwait, Feb. 13.
Soldiers deployed throughout Iraq traveled to Kuwait to train approximately 2,400 incoming Soldiers with their Mine-Resistant, Armored-Protected vehicles on how to find and react to IEDs Feb. 9 through Feb. 24.
Lt. Col. Edwin N. Gomez, a C-IED officer in charge with the 210th Regional Support Group out of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, attached to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), said the training they have in Kuwait was normally taught when they got into country.
Gomez, a Ceiba, Puerto Rico, native, said the training gives the troops a set of skills on how to identify IEDs, indicators, how to react to them and what are the current threat areas.
There is a requirement for all Soldiers who will be regularly exposed to IEDs throughout an area of operation during their deployment to be level two certified, he said.
"Everybody that's going to be working outside the wire will be going through the training," said Gomez.
The 13th SC(E) is incorporating the training before newly deployed Soldiers enter into the country, he said.
"We're starting now," said Gomez. "This is the first unit coming up north that will be trained here in Kuwait on (C-IED) level 2. This is the 278th BCT, were training all the ESC companies and force protection companies."
The instructors sit down and discuss the specific data of the AO, he said. They talk about the equipment, how they defeat the IEDs, the enemies' ways of doing business with the IEDs, he said.
The training is three phases, Gomez said. They get classroom instructions where they will review slides pertaining to IEDs, he said. Then from there they do what is called a static lane, which involves the instructors and Soldiers as they discuss IEDs as they walk through a training ground filled with mock IEDs, he said. Then the Soldiers drive MRAPs to find training IEDs and learn how to react to them, he said.
"We integrate the classroom environment with a static lane, where they actually go and identify the indicators and (then) they actually go out and drive and react to those IEDs," said Gomez.
Gomez said the 278th Soldiers have picked up the training very quickly and have communicated during the training very well. He said they have shown interest in wanting to learn from experience Soldiers.
SFC Paul L. Collier a instructor with Headquarters and Headquarters Company 2nd Battalion 198th Combat Arms Battalion out of Senatobia, Miss., said the Soldiers they have recent experience of what is happening now in Iraq and they have given their time to come and teach the incoming Soldiers tips and knowledge of what has happened while deployed and how they can overcome or sustain that.
"(The incoming Soldiers) find it a little more interesting when they here firsthand accounts and the things we've actually witnessed and seen while we've been here in country," said Collier, a Hattiesburg, Miss., native. "I think it does and it gives them a better aspect than a view on what they really actually encounter instead of looking at it on slides and hearing a lecture about it."
The training gives them a better picture and understanding of what currently deployed Soldiers in Iraq are dealing with on a daily basis, he said.
"I think it's great," said Collier. "It's giving the younger guys that haven't been over here before and the veterans that have, its giving them a better understanding of what's changed and what's currently going on here in country and I think that its helping to save lives by doing that."
It is a continual learning process while Soldiers are deployed in Iraq, he said. The enemy is changing every day, he said. They are getting smarter, the techniques and methods they use constantly change, there are no standards to go by so it is a constant training experience, he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Jerry D. Asberry, a platoon sergeant with E Troop 2nd Squadron 278th ACR out of Jamestown, Tenn., said the instructors are professional and understand the current enemy TTPs that is being used in the country and they have presented the material very well.
Asberry, a Jamestown, Tenn., native used a reference to coaching as a way to explain the situation at hand. He said as any good coach would say that knowing the enemies ballgame; their plan, their playbook, would definitely help the 278th Soldiers beat the enemies. He said that is what the instructors are trying to do, to make a playbook and help them be successful.
"I deployed last time in Operation Iraqi Freedom 3," said Asberry. "This level of training is much better than I received back then. So these guys are very prepared than we were the last time."
The improvement of the training and how they know and understand the characteristics of IEDs and the TTPs of the enemy is remarkable, he said.
"I have talked to several of the 155 Soldiers and they all seem very familiar with their AO they are in now and have passed on a lot of good information to us," said Asberry.
He said the 278th Soldiers will be doing convoy security which is basically escorting convoys from point A to point B. He said when he was deployed the first time they had to learn a lot from on the job training. He said now their receiving the training earlier on in their deployment, which has allowed the incoming Soldiers a chance to prepare not only mentally but tactically as well to the counter IED training, to counter react IEDs and also the convoy mission.
"It's allowed us to prepare a lot more in depth of the stuff we are going to be doing," said Asberry.