By Maj. Penny Zamora, 157th Infantry Brigade, Public AffairsSeptember 10, 2013
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind.-- With anything from a pipe to a pressure cooker, the enemy, using a power source, main charge and an initiation system, can create an improvised explosive device with devastating results. First Army Division East trainer/mentors use every tool in their kitbag to show deploying Active and Reserve Component Soldiers how to recognize and combat them.
Trainer/mentors from the 1-345th Engineer Battalion, 157th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, are the lead element for counter- IED training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. They recently trained deploying Soldiers from the 19th Engineer Battalion, Fort Knox, Ky., on the Man Transportable Robotic System -- Route Clearance, more commonly known as the Talon IV. The 19th Eng Bn will head to Kuwait later this fall.
The TALON IV, a compact, tracked vehicle, supports the CIED mission in a variety of roles including explosive ordinance disposal, reconnaissance, heavy lift, and defense and rescue missions.
"Many Soldiers training on the TALON IV say the controls are very similar to the game 'Battlefield,'" said Sgt. 1st Class Shaun Williamson, trainer/mentor of the 1-345th Engineer Battalion, 157th Inf Bde, explaining the robot is controlled, much like a video game, with a screen and joystick.
With its versatile arm and multiple attachments, including various camera options, the TALON IV sends video images to the Soldier controlling it, allowing them to remotely identify possible IEDs.
"The biggest recurring threat to our Soldiers in Afghanistan is the IED. The TALON IV is absolutely critical in helping our guys on the ground stay out of harm's way," said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Buras, trainer/mentor of the 1-345th Engineer Battalion, 157th Inf. Bde.
The TALON IV's modular system and remote operating range of about 1,000 meters does keep our Soldiers safely away from potentially harmful situations, Williamson stressed.
"The ideal situation is to send the TALON IV out while the operator is safely shielded in an armored vehicle. The camera can send images back and the unit can easily identify the type of IED, the trigger mechanism and the power source," said Williamson.
Although the TALON IV is relatively compact, it is fast and able to travel through a variety of environments ranging from sand to snow. It can even climb stairs.
"Most people are surprised at how strong the TALON IV is. We always demonstrate its strength by having the TALON IV latch onto a Soldier's gear and pull a prone Soldier through a few lanes," said Sgt. 1st Class Rocky Duran, trainer/mentor of the 1-345th Engineer Battalion, 157th Inf. Bde.
By 2007, according to the Washington Post, more than 64% of U.S. Soldier deaths on deployments occurred due to IEDs.
"The counter IED training provided by the 157th Infantry Brigade was excellent, in that it showed our Soldiers the capabilities available to us," said Lt. Col. John Lloyd, Commander of the 19th Engineer Battalion.
"IEDs, in general, are definitely the weapon of choice against the U.S. Soldier and other coalition forces. These three days of counter IED training is right in line with the Forces Command training guidance on training Soldiers with the capability to defeat IEDs on the battlefield," continued Lloyd.
The training mission sets may change, but trainer/mentors of First Army Division East remain flexible and relevant, prepared to train any unit for worldwide deployments.
"Our job is to ensure the Soldiers we train to deploy have confidence in their equipment and have confidence in their ability to operate the equipment. Anytime a Soldier can accurately identify an IED for the EOD guys and be far enough away from a dangerous situation, is a win-win." said Williamson.
The 157th Infantry Brigade trains and mentors reserve component units for deployment and contingency operations by providing realistic and relevant training reflecting the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater.