By Sgt. Frank StrumilaAugust 22, 2017
Fort Surasri, Thailand -- Soldiers from the Royal Thai Army Explosive Ordinance Device Center shared principles and tactics of counter-improvised explosive devices with the U.S. Army's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, August 9 through August 14, 2017.
The RTA EOD center provided the instructors, certified through U.S. Pacific Command, to teach the C-IED tactics to the U.S. Soldiers in both an academic setting and in practical exercises.
Capt. Shane Schrader, partner nation officer-in-charge with U.S. Asia Pacific
C-IED Fusion Center, was in charge of negotiating the interoperability between the RTA and U.S. Forces.
"The last time the United States operated in a jungle-like environment was Vietnam," said Schrader. "This (course) gives our U.S. Soldiers … tell-tale signs (of IED's) and how to respond in this kind of (jungle) environment."
The RTA EOD instructors provided realistic training during the practical exercises so that the U.S. Soldiers could get a feel for what IED implementation in a jungle environment looks like.
The language barrier was an initial hurdle that the U.S. Soldiers were not fully expecting.
"I think a lot is lost in translation," said SPC Nikolas Garcia of Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, reflecting on the language barrier. "But during the practical exercises the hands on is good, learning about spotting IED's, being more situationally aware, looking at the little things that you wouldn't normally look for."
Soldiers were tested and given the opportunity to demonstrate their level of proficiency on the fundamentals of C-IED over the course of a few days with practical exercises in the jungle. The U.S. forces also were able to develop their own squad and platoon standard operating procedures, and more importantly train alongside their counterparts in the RTA.
The C-IED course is a monumental event within Pacific Pathways, a series of exercises run by PACOM, where U.S. Soldiers are in a place that's unfamiliar, with a populace who does not speak English, preforming tasks they usually do not get the chance to do.
"I think the American troops are benefiting a lot from the cultural exposure. As you look across the formation, most have had no deployment experience and so they are limited to just experience with U.S. soldiers," said Schrader. "Culturally, it opens their eyes to the [fact that the] world is bigger than just America."
Schrader also noted that IED's are still being used every month.
"IED's aren't going anywhere anytime soon; they're proven to migrate. In the PACOM [Area of Operations] there are over 90 IED events a month that are happening," said Schrader. "It's important to us to understand this environment, because in the event that we do have to fight in a jungle, our soldiers are coming in with experience."
SM1 Sokjabok Termpan, a Royal Thai Army EOD technician, agreed the training was beneficial to both countries' armies.
"Hopefully in the future, we can have more EOD teams from the United States come to share the knowledge and technology that the United States has," said Termpan.