By Spc. Gregory T. Summers, 1st Signal Brigade Public Affairs Office March 18, 2014
RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea -- Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 41st Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, conducted mounted and dismounted training to practice reacting to improvised explosive devices at the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex near the Korean Demilitarized Zone March 12.
As part of the 41st Signal Battalion's quarterly White Week training, 22 HHD Soldiers geared up at USAG Yongsan and moved north to the Rodriguez complex to enhance their awareness of IEDs. The White Week training exercises provide opportunities for Soldiers to get more of a hands-on approach compared to the weekly sergeant's time training.
Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Normandin, HHD 1st Sergeant, said it is good to get Soldiers out of the office and conduct productive training. "This opportunity gives us the chance to actually fire our weapons and react," Normandin said.
Cpt. Frederick Do, HHD Commander, said that learning the enemy's tactics and techniques with IEDs and how to react to them is an important skill for his signal Soldiers to learn. "We are not a combat unit, but we still have to move from point A to point B with our equipment and personnel. If they end up in an IED situation, this will help them to know what to do," said Do.
The Soldiers first received briefings about general IED information and counter-IED principles from civilian and Army instructors at the complex. Movement techniques, distance checks, how to report the presence of IEDs being in an area and how to react to an IED were highlighted during the class.
Taking their prior IED knowledge and combining it with the new information learned, the Soldiers were ready to test themselves at the mounted and dismounted IED training lanes. In full battle attire with blank rounds for their rifles, the Soldiers were equipped to experience hands-on IED training.
During their mounted reaction to the simulated IEDs, the Soldiers moved in a tactical convoy of three Humvees through the wooded, mountain paths. Randomly along the path, the convoy came under attack from a roadside IED, which would follow with "enemy forces" ambushing the vehicles.
The Soldiers calmly and quickly reacted to the IED, took out the opposition and secured the area using the techniques and tactics they learned in the class.
In another scenario while the convoy was on the move, the first Humvee spotted a possible roadside IED and stopped to prevent it from exploding. The team took the necessary steps to report the IED and secure the road nearby so another convoy would not encounter it.
On the simulated dismounted reaction to IED training lane, the Soldiers were on foot moving through the woods looking for IEDs and any opposing force along the way. Moving tactically with open eyes, the Soldiers spotted possible IEDs and would hault to investigate, call it in and continue on their mission.
Of course when conducting combat training, Soldiers are not supposed to find everything. The Soldiers were hit by a very well hidden, simulated IED and were forced to react to accompanying "enemy" fire from the tree line. The Soldiers reacted with their learned techniques and minimized the possible damage.
Once the mounted and dismounted training was completed, the HHD commander and first sergeant stressed the importance of why the IED training was being conducted.
"It doesn't matter if you are working in S-1 doing paperwork most days. At the end of the day, you are all wearing this uniform for a reason," said Do. "You've got to be able to get yourself out of these bad situations, because they could happen to you."
Normandin said it's good for Soldiers to have fun and enjoy this kind of exercise, but to remember that the primary mission is to understand the training. "The information you learned out here today can and will save you and your battle buddy's lives," Normandin said. "Never feel like you know it all, because I even learned a lot today."