CREW: helping defeat IEDs
October 26, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Oct. 12, 2011 -- "If it's on it's going to work. So it's 100 percent effective," explained Eddi Bowers, the Regional Support Center-Kandahar site lead, about the Counter Radio Electronic Warfare system.
CREW systems are helping Soldiers to defeat deadly improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, by blocking radio signals that can be used by insurgents to detonate the devices remotely.
The jammers were developed in 2006, when insurgents in Iraq were using cell phones to remotely detonate roadside bombs. The equipment developed by military scientists is basically equivalent to a transmitter on steroids, said Bowers.
"It takes a little more than an off the shelf item to do that," he said.
CREW has been highly effective in preventing the remote detonation of IEDs by cell phones said Bowers.
"There are still radio controlled ones out there, but nowhere near as many as there used to be because they know we have it figured out," he explained.
"They [Soldiers] love it," Bowers said. "It gives them the boost of confidence to know that anything that's radio operated out there, they're going to jam it."
An average installation takes between two hours and four hours. The RSC at Kandahar averages about 10 installations per day and every field service representative there usually does about four or five maintenance calls a day as well. The team also has 9 FSRs out at various locations in Southern Afghanistan.
"The biggest challenge for us is probably the kits for different vehicles." Bowers said. "There is such a menagerie of vehicles at Kandahar (airfield). It's unbelievable. There are loads of different types of vehicles compared to Bagram (airfield) and you have to have a special kit for each one of these vehicles.
"And it's a monster logistically wise. You have to have a special kit. And four or five of them [vehicles] will come in and then you're out of kits and you have to wait to get more kits," he said.
Despite the challenges, RSC-Kandahar has the best production rate in Afghanistan. About fifty percent of all the theater provided jammers are installed here.
The team started out with 52 guys working out of single office container with two computers.
"We have come a long, long way," said Bowers.