By By Spc. Jazz Burney,3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry DivisionMarch 22, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - A thunderous boom resounded across the desert as debris and truck remains fell to the earth followed by Iraqi policemen rushing to the blast scene. Fortunately, this was not the scene of a crowded marketplace, but instead, a training range where IPs specializing in explosive ordinance disposal spent the day honing their skills in crime scene investigation in the aftermath of a detonated improvised explosive device, March 18.
The policemen learned advanced post-blast analysis techniques in the classroom, and then applied the knowledge in a series of Coalition-led training exercises. In the final exercise, explosives experts rigged a truck with a 40-lb bomb and safely detonated it so the investigators could examine a fresh, large crime scene.
"Thanks to the training that we've received during the past four months, we are actually growing closer in being at a level where we specialize in conducting safe and efficient explosive ordnance disposal operations," said Lt. Col. Abdul al-Hadi, IP EOD commander. "We have learned so much in this particular area that we are confident that we will be able to provide the necessary security measures for the Salah ad-Din province,"
The training consisted of hands-on exercises designed to familiarize police with proper tactics and procedures in conducting and handling dangerous explosive elements. The training also emphasized the correct ways to approach, investigate and collect evidence from crime scenes.
"Today, we detonated a small magnetically attached improvised explosive device first to introduce the Iraqi policemen to the procedures of safely clearing and collecting evidence of a crime scene dealing with small explosives," said Navy Commander Eric Wirstrom, commander, North and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Mobile Unit One, Task Force Troy.
"In the second iteration, we used a larger forum for applying the techniques we taught the Iraqi policemen." Wirstrom said. "We used a large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device so that the policemen would become well-rounded in dealing with complex situations."
The police say the training gives them experience to draw on as they work in Salah ad-Din, and awareness of how they can unknowingly damage crime scenes by moving objects or destroying evidence that could help track down guilty perpetrators.
"We have learned so much that we didn't have an idea about before. We have learned not to touch or collect any evidence of a crime scene without using gloves, because we know that our fingerprints will damage the important objects of the scene," said Sgt. Maj. Omar Salim, "We also learned how to identify and collect the useful things that will help piece together the crime scene, and not just pick up everything," he added.
Wirstrom said the willingness of Iraqi Police to train and learn, and the continued support of Coalition forces, should give the people of Salah ad-Din comfort in knowing the bravery of their policemen is matched by a capability to handle security operations in the province.