By By U.S. Army Sgt. Eunice Alicea ValentinJanuary 26, 2011
BAGHDAD - In mid 2010, the Baghdad Hawk Counter Explosive Team, or CET, uncovered an indirect fire launch site in Karada, a city neighborhood known for its ethnic diversity and consumerism, and where extremists had already launched two rockets targeting the International Zone.
The CET was acting in response to information received from responsible residents. Upon their arrival the team found two rocket launchers and two un-launched rockets that had been rigged with explosives.
Improvised Explosive Device technicians defused the explosives and collected the materials to be used for intelligence gathering and use as evidence in Iraqi courts, said Navy reservist Lt. Phillip L. Romeo, a United States Forces-Iraq advisor with Iraq Training and Advisory Mission-Police, and officer in charge of the Security Force and General Counter Explosives Advisory Team.
As IED production and placement evolves, IED technicians throughout Iraq are receiving advanced training to help in Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
By fall of 2010 more than 210 Iraqi Police and 41 Iraqi Federal Police had participated in the General Counter Explosive Directorate Explosive Ordnance Disposal's Equip and Train Development Course, which has been conducted at the Federal Police Training Center at the Old Muthana Airfield in Baghdad, since 2009. During the course's eighth and final iteration, it produced an additional 30 Iraqi Police and six Iraqi Federal Police who are trained to International Mine Action Standards.
The goal of the 12-week course is to teach IED technicians how to safely render a variety of explosive devices inert. Course participants attend lectures and are assessed by veterans in their field in practical exercises.
Additionally, students learn how to operate counter-explosive robots, as well as how to properly wear and work a "bomb suit."
"Without exception, every student regardless of his native home, has the safety of the Iraqi people as his prime motivation," said Romeo.
The school's director, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Jihad Al Jabiri, enrolls students in the course based on the recommendation of their commanders, and their demonstrated proficiency while interning with EOD units.
Although this will be the last iteration of this particular course, EOD advisors have implemented a plan to prepare three Iraqi Police to continue training future IED technicians.
"Some of the most senior counter-IED technicians are currently training to be able to instruct the course at the Salam Pak Institute of EOD Excellence," Romeo said. The school, which is currently under construction south of Baghdad, is also the future home of the National EOD Training Headquarters scheduled to open in March 2011.
Every graduate is fully capable, and the members of this final class will not be an exception, Romeo said.