IED Training Crosses International Bordershttp://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id=18515
Date: 04.17.2008 By Staff Sgt. Lisa Litchfield
5th Armored Brigade
FORT BLISS, Texas – Far from the frozen tundra of Ontario, Canada, soldiers of the 2nd Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group are training on the improvised explosive device defeat lane in the desert at Camp McGregor, N.M.
Maj. Alain Carrier, subject matter expert from the Canadian Maneuver Training Center, highlighted the benefits of the environment of the New Mexico desert for the Canadians.
"The big thing is that in Canada we're always getting a task force deployed in the spring, early summer," Carrier explained. "To train them before, we always end up in the winter, and winter is really rigorous in Canada so it makes it a big challenge."
"That's one of the reasons why they come to train south. Here it's the desert, and you've got the mountains. Some of us are just walking around here and we're just like, 'hey, this looks like Afghanistan totally,' so that's a big benefit."
"Training in the desert here allows us to simulate the conditions that the guys will be facing in Afghanistan, in terms of the dust, the sand, and the heat," explained Lt. Shannon Glenney, liaison officer for the Royal Canadian Dragoons. "It allows us to see what effect it will have on our bodies as well as our vehicles and our equipment."
Another benefit for the Canadians was the "adapt and overcome" attitude of their American trainers. Just as insurgents adjust their strategies for maximum effect, the trainers on the IED-D lane adjusted their tactics to benefit the Canadian forces.
"When the Canadians first came out on the lane, we had set up the lane just like the Americans come through," explained Staff Sgt. Kerry Lubin, Observer-Controller/Trainer for 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West.
The challenge for the trainers was that the Canadian forces didn't employ the same techniques as American forces, and they were able to avoid the training IEDs.
Lubin explained how the trainers adjusted the placement of the IEDs in order to adapt to the Canadian maneuver tactics.
Although altering the lanes takes time and innovation, the trainers know that with every change they make, each improvement to their lane, they are potentially providing training that could save a life in country.
"The Americans have been nothing but supportive in terms of running this stand," enthused Glenney. "They have been more than willing to put through numbers of groups, they deal with change at short notice, and they push resources to us in order to help us maximize the number of people that participate in this stand on a daily basis."
Carrier was also impressed with the trainers, training aids and facilities. One major benefit to his Soldiers was the hands-on, mobile IED "petting zoo" where the Canadians could see, touch and create their own IEDs.
"We don't have that in Canada," said Carrier. "In theatre, usually all the camps are going to put on a display of different munitions they can find, it would be a good thing or a good project to put on our base where our brigades are stationed."
Unlike training at the CMTC which has a broader focus, Carrier explained that the IED-D lane works with smaller groups of soldiers on their squad tactics.
"This is more focused on the individual skill set, up to the section skill set ... It narrows it down; it brings it down a few levels... basically – identify, react and report. It's good to be on that ground because it's a totally different focus," said Carrier
"They (the trainers) are very knowledgeable. Most of them have two or three tours in Iraq, some of them have two tours in Iraq as well as a couple of tours in Afghanistan," said Carrier. "They've got tons of knowledge, and in fact, some of that knowledge and experience comes under fire because most of them have been the target of an IED once, twice, even three times. That's experience, you cannot beat that."
One of the trainers on the IED-D lane was Master Sgt. David Shindel, O-C/T and IED subject matter expert for 5th Armored Brigade.
"IED defeat practices are drills that you perform that help you identify and react to an IED," explained Shindel "You won't defeat the IED, it is emplaced too quickly, but if there is something that you can do that one more person goes home then you've done well."
The Canadians are just beginning their mobilization training, and will be participating in a large scale exercise in Canada this spring, but learning the basics is beneficial.
"This is their start training, this is their walk phase so we basically are getting them to fulfill the requirements of this lane which is to recognize, react and report (IEDs)," said Shindel.
While approximately 30 percent of the Canadians in this unit have previously been deployed to Afghanistan, the remainder of the unit is new to the training techniques and according to the trainers, actively engaged in the learning process.
"The ones that haven't deployed yet...are learning quite a bit. We've had a few comments to that effect," Shindel said. "We're here to provide them a training venue, some opportunity. Our benefit is sharing knowledge, taking some constructive criticism, which we had very little, and it breaks up the monotony. It's nice working with Soldiers from different nations."
Although it was Canadian forces being trained, Shindel appreciated the opportunity for the leadership to share knowledge as well.
"They brought some subject matter experts down (from Canada) that are incredible. They've got one particular Sgt. Maj. who worked with Paladin (Afghanistan's IED Task Force) and he was able to come down ... we were able to fine tune our briefing some of the things we do so that it would connect," Shindel said. "As far as the leaders, I think we've shared (experience, tactics) across the board."
The mission crosses international borders, but the goal is the same – train the soldiers and bring them safely home.