Works Council reps have explosive experience
March 14, 2011
- "Out of those little things, they make bombs, things you don't even think about."
- "The Soldiers have to face all of those risks. It's really frightening, really dangerous. It scares me."
HOHENFELS, Germany -- The IMCOM level Works Council got a bang out of their recent visit to Hohenfels when their tour included a demonstration at the Improvised Explosive Device Academy.
The IED academy's two-pronged approach focuses on defeating the device and attacking the network by allowing Soldiers to get hands-on training as well as IED and situational awareness. The tour gave the visiting council members a brief overview of what that training involves.
"That was really impressive," said Peter Schmidt, the Kaiserslautern council representative. "I was really surprised to learn what can happen over there. No one even thinks about things like that. You have to expect everything, and this demonstration really brings the danger itself closer."
The Works Council represents the interests of the Local National workforce under the purview of the German Labor Law, coordinating with the Command Group and the Civilian Personnel Advisory Office on all matters affecting LN employees.
Council members meet once a month at different locations around the IMCOM footprint, and usually pay a visit to the closest installation, said Christa Meier-Muehlbach, U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Work Council chairwoman.
As well as a Hohenfels bus tour, the Works Council members enjoyed hands on demonstrations of several aspects of the IED academy, such as optical equipment, robots, and bomb making materials.
"It really makes you start thinking," said Meier-Muehlbach. "As a German, you don't get the chance to go to places like this. But we're concerned about our soldiers downrange, too, and if you see something like this you realize more what kind of danger they're in. This really shows you something that you don't realize when all you see is what's on TV."
Robert Weir, IED awareness instructor, said part of the Academy's mission is to help teach Soldiers to identify potential threats. Displays included faux IEDs, some as innocuous as cell phones or rice cookers.
"Sometimes it's just something that doesn't look right," Weir said, holding up a cell phone with wires protruding from the top.
"Out of those little things, they make bombs, things you don't even think about," Meier-Muehlbach said. "If I saw a pot standing somewhere I'd think there was food in there, I'd never think it could be a bomb!"
"The highlight of the tour was the practical demonstration," said Schmidt. This involved witnessing several small detonations similar to what units experience within the training area to simulate road side bombs and other IEDs.
"I think this is a really good training tool," Schmidt said. "It's really impressive. You never know what you have to expect. And the Soldiers have to face all of those risks. It's really frightening, really dangerous. It scares me."