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Explosive Device Awareness Top Priority for Troops in Iraq

Spc. Blake Kent, USA
Special to American Forces Press

MOSUL, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2003 - With hundreds wounded and scores killed by improvised explosive devices, coalition forces are doing everything possible to prepare their troops with needed awareness training.

"There is approximately 600,000 tons of ordnance out on the ground throughout the country," said Army Maj. Adam Boyd, of the 1138th Mine, Explosive and Ordnance Information Coordination Center, "and the enemy is getting smarter every single day on how to use it."

Soldiers may encounter a number of different forms of the devices, such as disguised static IEDs, disguised movable IEDs, improvised grenades, and IEDs placed in, on or under the target.

Vehicles attacks are the most prevalent. According to Army Staff Sgt. Jon Kibbler, also from the 1138th center, the enemy targets vehicles at intersections and round-abouts, on and under bridges and overpasses, on verges and breaks in the median strips, when passing through defiles, and on the open highways.

The enemy is also employing multiple IEDs in a daisy-chain fashion; targeting ground forces and fixed installations; employing "come on" tactics, items that attract personnel into the kill zone; and secondary IEDs, after the initial devices have detonated, Kibbler said.

Complacency is one of the worst enemies for the coalition forces, he noted. "It isn't the soldiers that are just coming into theater that are getting hurt," he said. "It's the guys that have been here for a year that are getting complacent."

Soldiers can do things to help make themselves less of a target for these devices, Kibbler said, and help prepare themselves for IEDs encounters.

Altering routes, times and commonly witnessed procedures can make it more difficult for the enemy to pick a target. Soldiers should have clearly understood and well-rehearsed procedures, and always be on the lookout for suspicious activity and indicators of possible IEDs.

They should maintain regular communication among themselves. When individuals do come across an IED, they should confirm what they see, evacuate the area, secure the site and control the area until an explosive ordnance detachment arrives. Soldiers should also follow report-filing procedures to help inform the EOD team of the situation.

Kibbler warned troops to be at least 100 meters away from unexploded ordnance when radio-transmitting, because some frequencies can set off these devices.

"The two biggest things that are going to help you an IED situation is vigilance and communication," he concluded.

(Spc. Blake Kent is assigned to the 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)