FORT PICKETT, Va. --
As improvised explosive devices became a major factor in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Armed Services have created awareness training to help service members locate and neutralize IEDs.
26th Marine Expeditionary Unit has made the IED Identification Lanes training evolution a requirement for MEU Marines and Sailors before the conclusion of their pre-deployment training aboard Fort Pickett, Va., this week.
According to Staff Sgt. Juan Padilla, instructor during the Command Element IED Identification Lanes training evolution, March 26, the exercise is a chance to allow service members to identify different materials and tactics the enemy is using to attack deployed troops.
During the exercise, Padilla and other trainers led a small group of Marines through a forest trail littered with mock IEDs. As the Marines approached each IED-replica, they read an information board about the type of IED, it’s capabilities for damage, and proper procedures for neutralization and disposal. The instructors would emphasize and expand on information on the boards to ensure the Marines absorbed the lessons.
“The importance of identifying things that are out of place is essential,” Padilla said, “When you are in country, you experience certain things you are not familiar with. This training gives you a chance to learn what type of things the enemy is using and what to look for.”
According to Pfc. Christopher S. Stark, a training clerk with 26th MEU’s Command Element, the IED identification exercise really gave him a different perspective on IED detection.
“I learned more about placement of IEDs in vehicles,” Stark said. “Even IEDs in stuff we leave behind like meals-ready-to-eat. You know, stuff we do not even think about.”
Stark added there are several small indicators that a person can use when trying to identify IEDs.
“If you notice an area where people generally congregate suddenly empty, that is a big indicator,” Stark said.
Padilla added the training was a success in providing awareness to Marines and Sailors.
“The Marines now know, at a basic level, that everything counts when it comes to identifying IEDs.”
26th MEU can be followed on its Web site, http://www.marines.mil/unit/26thmeu/Pages/welcome.aspx