115th Engineers Perform Critical

Training Mission in Iraq

 

Written by 1st Lt. Lyle Black

Published April 17, 2006

 

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Sgt. 1st Class Kamron Wright, 115th Engineers, with one of many Special Search Dogs used to help detect improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

Photo by 115th Engineers

Sgt. 1st Class Kamron Wright, 115th Engineers, with one of many Special Search Dogs used to help detect improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — Headquarters Detachment, 115th Engineers, Utah National Guard, deployed to Iraq in January 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit's main mission is to train Coalition personnel and provide equipment for improvised explosive device (IED) detection and response.

The 115th supports Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors trained as engineer and counterexplosive experts who locate and clear IEDs.

The struggle in Iraq is closely associated with IEDs. These devices come in all shapes and sizes which range from soda bottles to vehicles laden with explosives driven by insurgents determined to kill themselves and take Coalition troops, Iraqi Security Forces or innocent civilians with them.

Coalition efforts to decrease the threat of IEDs devices are monumental. Special equipment and techniques have been developed and employed to locate and defuse them before they can harm intended targets.

The 115th plays a significant role in this struggle by coordinating the acquisition, distribution and support of this special equipment. Soldiers in units operating this equipment save many lives every day as they remove IEDs from roadways and neighborhoods throughout Iraq. The equipment supplied by the 115th gives these Soldiers special capabilities and remarkable protection against IED detonations.

Spc. Daniel Swinyard, 115th Engineers, teaches a mine-detection class to Coalition forces.

Photo by 115th Engineers

Spc. Daniel Swinyard, 115th Engineers, teaches

a mine-detection class to Coalition forces.

In addition to providing the special equipment, the 1115th has Mobile Training teams who collect best practices from units across Iraq who operate this equipment. The 115th uses this information to improve operational methods, train units on changing methods and provide recommendations to commanders. In this way units searching for and defusing IEDs get better and better at what they do.

The 115th also trains all Coalition forces coming into the country to detect and properly react to IEDs. This training saves Soldiers’ lives each time they detect an IED prior to detonation and react properly to clear and secure the area around the device and keep civilians safe. This training teaches Soldiers about the dangers of the different types of IEDs, how they are hidden, how to detect them and how to adjust their own actions to be less vulnerable to IED attacks.

The explosives used to build IEDs are hidden throughout the country. Locating these hiding places is difficult, but specialized equipment greatly improves Soldiers’ ability to find hidden explosives. The 115th supplies this capability to units throughout the country by training Soldiers who have been selected to receive the specialized equipment. Soldiers trained to use this equipment can differentiate between objects and determine if materials detected are part of a weapon system or merely just scrap.

Members of the 115th Engineers set up mine-detection training equipment in Tikrit, Iraq.

Photo by 115th Engineers

Members of the 115th Engineers set up

mine-detection training equipment in Tikrit, Iraq.

Nonelectronic methods for detecting IEDs include using search dogs which are paired with handlers. Dogs and handlers are matched to each other and train together until they know each other and work as a team. Handlers know their dogs’ capabilities and behavior, and dogs learn to obey commands from their handlers.

Search dogs are given rank just like Soldiers and typically outrank their handlers. These dogs love their work and bring a special capability and enthusiasm to the fight against IEDs.

Bringing freedom to the Iraqi people is very important to the security of the United States and the stability of this region. The 115th is grateful for the opportunity to contribute in any way possible and pleased that their contribution directly saves lives and makes a visible difference in the fight against terrorism in Iraq.