By Russell ShimookaSeptember 27, 2012
Camp Ulu Tiram, Malaysia -- In a world where threats can often be undetectable yet devastatingly lethal, training such as the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) help people engaged in peacekeeping missions stay alive.
For the first time in the 16 year history of Keris Strike, the MAF underwent counter IED training September 18-28, 2012.
Keris Strike is a U.S. Army Pacific sponsored Theater Security Cooperation Program exercise conducted annually with the MAF, enhancing the defense readiness and tactical interoperability of both armies while strengthening multinational relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of friends and allies in the region.
"We formally requested the C-IED training," said Maj. Mdlani Suraihan, chief of instruction with the MAF Engineer School. "We have to gain knowledge about IEDs so when we perform missions, we know how to react-how to survive."
If the Malaysians are to become counter IED savvy, then it will be up to Suraihan to make it happen. An engineer by profession, he's in charge of all curriculum and instruction at the engineer school. With the MAF possessing no explosive ordnance disposal teams, Suraihan said his engineers will build upon this initial training and one day become the counter IED capability building force for the MAF.
"It will be up to me to write into our instruction, but it will have to have the approval of the higher leadership-but I think that will happen," said Suraihan who deployed to Lebanon in 2009 as a peacekeeper.
More than 100 MAF soldiers, half of them engineers, participated in classroom and field training that included IED awareness, homemade explosives, area search, and operating in an IED environment while on dismounted patrol. There was also an inert threat display where Malaysians got hands on experience of what an enemy device looks and feels like.
"Very impressive these are things we've never seen before," said Suraihan.
Providing the counter IED instruction was a mobile training team from the Asia Pacific Counter IED Fusion Center based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
"We want to build partner nation capacity and capability for them to train their own," said Michael Thomas, lead trainer for the mobile team. "At some point in the future, we can be the enabler and not so much the facilitator."
But that will take time and hard work.
The hard work part was very much evident under tempestuous weather conditions of the Malaysia's jungle environment. Whether it was scorching sunshine, sweltering heat, thunderstorms, or monsoon rain, MAF soldiers used the tactics and techniques they learned in the classroom, to look for indicators that led them to buried inert devices along the jungle trail.
"This is a baseline start for developing a counter IED initiative. For the first time doing this training they did an outstanding job, but like any training you have to do it over and over to be proficient," said trainer Gary Montano.
Malaysia doesn't have a serious domestic IED threat, but it deploys its forces in support of operations in Afghanistan and provides peacekeepers in Lebanon.
"When we send our forces, we have to give them this counter IED knowledge, not while they are in country, but before they head to danger areas," said Suraihan.