Counter-IED course offers life-saving training
December 22, 2011
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Dec. 22, 2011) -- Improvised explosive devices are perhaps one of the greatest threats the insurgency uses against armed forces in Afghanistan but with the counter-improvised explosive devices, or CIED, training offered at Bagram Airfield they are hoping to change that.
The CIED training facility offers in-depth information and hands-on training by allowing service members to walk through an interactive environment with various examples of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, they might encounter in theater.
Service members arriving in theater are required to attend the CIED training course before going to their actually duty location.
"[Service members] have an opportunity to walk through different types of homemade explosives production facilities in a closed natural setting here," said Dirk Sheffer, senior instructor and developer for the CIED course. "They get an opportunity to see how all the different IED triggers really work and touch them. To know what their form and function is and to better understand how they're going to look in the Afghan environment."
The course itself is not to prevent IEDs but to make service members aware of them and to make sure they have an "offensive mindset", said Sheffer.
"An offensive mindset isn't always pulling the trigger," said Sheffer. "An offensive mindset is looking at your unit from the outside as insurgents would. 'How would I attack my unit is this situation? What is our weak point from the insurgent perspective?' We really try and get [service members] thinking about the insurgent mindset."
While Sheffer has been working at the CIED training course he has noticed a positive effect the training has had on service members on the battlefield.
"Since I've been looking at it, we have seen an increase in found IED's, a decrease in effective IED attacks and a decrease in injuries and deaths in RC-East," said Sheffer.
Improvised explosive devices are related to more than 80 percent of injuries and deaths, added Sheffer. The positive effect his team is making on service members is resulting in fewer casualties because they are finding the IED indicators in advance.
"We have Soldiers who come back and tell us they found these IEDs because the training was spot on and 'that's what we looked for so we found it,'" said Sheffer.
He said combat now is asymmetrical. It's not a frontline battlefield where the only people engaging in combat are combat arm units.
"Any Soldier can end up being in a convoy and every convoy has the opportunity to encounter IEDs," said Sheffer emphasizing on the importance of the training. "So every Soldier has to be not only a sensor but he has to be equipped to deal with an IED event."
The training adapts to new methods the insurgents are applying on the battlefield in RC-East, said Sheffer. Not adapting to the changing tactics can set service members up for failure and failure means losing lives or limbs.
Sgt. Andrew Connelly, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, just arrived in theater and went through the CIED training and found the training helpful.
"I thought the training was very good and very thorough," said Connelly. "I especially enjoyed the walk-through program. It was very informative and the interaction part of the course was great and I learned something new."
As service members arrive in theater and they finish the course, Sheffer knows he did his part to possibly save lives.
"A lot of American Soldiers are going home in boxes or going home maimed and I can't stand that," said Sheffer. "I have a passion to prevent that."