ANA soldiers train to rid Afghanistan of IEDs
In the continuing effort to rid Afghanistan of improvised explosive devices, Afghan National Army soldiers recently completed the initial portion of an IED detection course.
ANA soldiers enrolled in the Explosive Hazard Reduction Course finished the three-day, basic search segment of the class at the Joint Security Academy Southwest at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Oct. 29.
Cpl. Wayne A.S. Phillips, an EHRC instructor with 61 Field Squadron, 33 Engineer Regiment EOD, said the whole purpose of the course is to provide the ANA students with the knowledge to rid their country of the prevalent IED threat.
“We’re teaching these guys the basic elements of searching for an IED and explosives to save their lives when they go out on the ground,” the Plymouth, England, resident said. “The IED threat is the main thing out here at the moment. We’re teaching them to exploit the devices and get rid of it to make a safe passage for other vehicles and other military personnel to go through.”
The first day of classes began with instruction on properly search an individual. Students were taught the techniques of finding hidden explosives on enemy personnel and how to effectively eliminate the explosive threat once found.
In the second part of the class, the students were taught how to conduct an area search to find IEDs.
“We teach them how to do an area search just in case you need to get helicopters to come in,” Phillips said. “We teach them how to get the [helicopter] in safe and sound so it doesn’t land on an IED or anything like that.”
On the last day, the students combined their knowledge from the previous classes to completely clear a building of hidden explosives. The class was tasked with safely entering a compound without triggering any of the mock IEDs and safely diffusing all hidden threats.
Saifullah, an EHRC student from Dakhar province, felt the compound search provided the greatest challenge for him and his classmates out of all their classes.
“Today’s lesson was the hardest out of all the IED searching classes,” Saifullah said. “Safely entering the compound with ladders was pretty difficult, as was clearing doors and gates of explosives.”
By the end of the day, the course instructors felt the soldiers successfully put into practice all the techniques they were taught.
“We are starting off with the basics, breaking it down section by section, and teaching them from the lowest level to the highest level we can possibly teach them to,” Phillips said. “We started off slow, but they’ve gained the knowledge very fast. They’re taking it all in, soaking it all up, and they’re digesting it very well.”
Saifullah is proud of his class’ performance during the search portion and said he feels excited to move on to more advanced IED detection and diffusion techniques in the explosive reduction course.
“We are learning all these techniques so we can protect ourselves during operations,” Saifullah said. “We are in the front lines and ahead of all our other forces. But most importantly, we’re doing this to better serve our country.”
Article by Cpl. Brian Gabriel Jr., Regional Command Southwest