SHOALWATER BAY, Queensland, Australia-- Counter IED experts from the Asia Pacific Counter IED Fusion Center, traveled to Australia, to train Soldiers from Second Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, and members of the Australian Defense Force in ways to defeat improvised explosive devices.

The training was part of Talisman Saber 2011, the bi-annual joint military exercise between the United States and Australia.

The subject matter experts from Fort Shafter, Hawaii, instructed both forces on the principles of counter IED, observation, detection, homemade explosives, and presented briefing on insurgents and their devices in the Pacific Command area of responsibility.

“I thought the class on homemade explosives was informative,” said SFC Douglas Dodge, 1st Platoon, Company A, 2-23 Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division. “The instructors broke everything down and showed how easily it’s made. I always thought you needed a PhD to make this stuff,” Dodge added.

The 2-23 Infantry from Fort Lewis, Washington, gained notoriety last September as it was part of the last U.S. Army combat brigade (4th BCT) to leave Iraq, signaling the official end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. The battalion traveled 48 consecutive hours from Bagdad to the Kuwait border followed closely by the U.S. and international press.

Before deploying to the Middle East the “Tomahawks” received counter IED training, but nothing as in depth the Soldiers say to what they learned in Australia.

“This training has gone far and above the others I have received,” said platoon leader First Lieutenant Daniel Barnett, Company A, 2-23 Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division. “In previous exercises, the trainers would go out there, place inert munitions along the road, and call them IEDs. These guys from the Asia Pacific Center took the time to replicate the devices and conceal them the way the enemy would,” said Barnett.

“The training was awesome. It was clear and to the point. As someone who hasn’t deployed, I took lots of notes, “said PFC Jared Ramos, 1st Platoon, Company A, 2-23 Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division.

Specialist Arturo Martinez, 1st Platoon, Company A, 2-23 Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division added, “The training is a lifesaver. It was definitely eye opening. I feel that I have the confidence to know what to look for and deal with the situation.”

Instructors from the Asia Pacific Counter IED Fusion Center taught students to use one of their best weapons for defeating IEDs; their eyes. A recent Army Times report noted that Soldiers in Afghanistan were having greater success in detecting IEDs before they exploded while on foot patrol and having better observation.

“Being aware while you’re out there is key,” said Master Sergeant Paul Price, senior instructor with the center. “You can have all the technology and gadgets the Army comes up with, but this (pointing to his eyes) is going to increase your survivability on the battlefield, “Price told students.

While patrolling on foot comes with a greater risk to troops, the report says more unexploded IEDs were discovered by having situational awareness and being more observant.

“Counter IED training is a perishable skill, the more you do, the more you will retain. Even though our troops come into contact with them every day downrange, it’s not part of a unit’s battle drill and perhaps that is something we should change,” said platoon sergeant Dodge.

“The biggest takeaway is that you can take this training to any area applicable and it doesn’t have to be PACOM because they’re teaching good fundamentals here,” said platoon leader Barnett.