By 1st Lt. Cassandra B. McDonaldOctober 14, 2015
SZENTENDRE, Hungary-U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade completed the three-week long NATO Weapons Intelligence Course here Sept. 14 through Oct. 1, 2015.
The course, at the NATO Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Center of Excellence, collectively trained the paratroopers from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear dismounted reconnaissance platoon from the 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 173rd Abn. Bde. on NATO techniques and procedures for responding to an IED incident.
The course included more than 20 NATO service members from Spain, Ireland, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Macedonia and Belgium and allowed the students a chance to operate together in an allied environment and strengthen their partnership further.
"The different nationalities, job backgrounds and skill levels in the course provided us with a rounded education of site exploitation and CIED techniques," said Austrian Maj. Guenter Povoden, one of the course attendees. "This course focused on leadership skills and the scenarios were challenging and realistic, giving us the tools to succeed as a weapons intelligence team leader."
The course consisted of classroom instruction and practical exercises on sampling procedures, home-made explosives, biometrics, forensic procedures, fragmentation analysis, tactical questioning, photography, crater analysis, electronic components and the physical makeup of an IED.
Students had to react to eight different scenarios testing their ability to conduct site exploitation, identify specific IED components or equipment, and assess the attack site for tactical, technical and forensic intelligence.
"This course provided me with invaluable techniques and insights required to exploit an IED event," said U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Jakubiak, a paratrooper with the 54th. "I am now more confident and ready to work in a combined U.S.-allied environment - something that is definitely important, as we are forwardly-positioned here in Europe."
"There are two things that are most important to me to gain from this course: professional knowledge and applying it to future missions," said Spanish army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Herrero, a military policeman. "These capabilities will assist in defeating and countering IEDs used by insurgents and help NATO soldiers on the ground make better decisions."
The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe and is capable of deploying ready forces to conduct the full range of military operations across the U.S. European, Africa and Central Commands' areas of operations within 18 hours.