MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The Marines slowly made their way down the long, dirt road, that seemingly went on for miles with no discernable features. Doing their best to not fall victim to a complacency that can have devastating effect, the Marines take their time, ensuring no rock is left unturned. “At first it’s like a small panic,” said Pfc. Mark Brigham… BOOM! And smoke fills the air.
That panic Brigham described was intentionally created as part of the culminating event of a counter improvised explosive device training course at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 28 to Aug. 3, 2017.
Brigham is a motor transport operator assigned to MWSS-271, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. He was one of nearly 30 Marines in his motor transport section who completed the weeklong C-IED course, and learned how to successfully apply the lessons learned by navigating a course training area filled with hidden notional IED’s.
“Oh crap, here we go,” said Brigham, describing the initial reaction many Marines have when hearing about IED threats. “But, you immediately go to how you’ve been trained and focus on what needs to happen, and how you’re going to keep each other safe.”
The training began with classes focused on safely operating in an environment with potential IEDs threats. To ensure the training was as realistic as possible, the Marines stayed in the field throughout the course to simulate an actual deployment.
The immersive nature of the training kept the Marines constantly on alert, according to Brigham.
“It’s crazy how hidden they are… [You] don’t see them at all,” said Brigham. “The training teaches you to really be observant. [The instructors] give you more ways to look for an IED, to counter it and what to do if you do trip that IED.”
According to Brigham, every Marine needs this training because IED’s are a constant threat while forward deployed.
“What we’re doing out here this week is teaching the Marines the skills necessary to be able to operate in an IED environment,” said Danny Arnold, an instructor assigned to the Marine Corps Engineer School Counter IED mobile training cadre. “We’re teaching them the indicators of an IED, we’re teaching them how to do the five C’s, and how to be able to move from point A to point B without the enemy interfering with their operations.”
The five C’s Arnold mentioned – confirm, clear, cordon, check and control – are a step-by-step instructional procedure to safely operating in an environment with a known IED threat.
“IEDs are world-wide,” said Arnold. “They are not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, so no matter where [the Marines] go, they’ll be able to put this training to use. The end state is to minimize the number of casualties in an IED environment.”
After learning procedures and receiving instruction about properly employing IED detection tools, the Marines learned to safely conduct their job in a simulated deployed environment.
“It’s really great for the junior Marines to come out here and learn not just their motor transport equipment,” said Sgt. Chance Robinson, Convoy Commander, “but also to go out on patrol, do 9-lines, be able to identify IED’s and utilize the equipment to counter IEDs.”
This C-IED training is just one exercise that MWSS-271 participated in as they work up to take part in an Integrated Training Exercise during the upcoming spring at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.
“It’s going to save a Marine’s life because we train how we fight,” said Robinson. “The instructors are putting a lot of stress on the convoy commanders, and the Marines in the convoy. [They’re] putting them in a tough situation, so, if they fail, they are still learning. We go through these activities, these situations, to tighten our senses for the battlefield.”