Marines with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion conducted an improvised explosive device excavation range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune July 19.
The exercises were intended to prepare the unit for an Integrated Training Exercise, in which they will participate later this year at Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California.
"Our mission for today’s training exercise is to practice using excavation and cutting charges on IEDs that you would find in an environment outside of the United States," said Sgt. Fred Wittlake, an EOD technician with the company. "Part of the procedure involves using explosive charges to remotely uncover or move IEDs that have been emplaced or to use a cutting charge to sever command wires and other components to render the item safer to work around."
The Marines started building charges designed to blow away earth surrounding buried IEDs.
"The first task of the day was to demonstrate how to set up and use some of the cutting charges as well as do a demonstration of the excavation charges, so you can see before you start what the results should be and how to avoid making mistakes when you emplace them," Wittlake said. "You don’t want it too close or too far, you want to be able to emplace that excavation charge in such a manner that your desired outcome is to uncover and remotely move the IED components that you’ve discovered."
The Marines split into two teams, setting up mock charges for each other.
"The first team comes out and they’re acting as the opposing forces," said Sgt. Derek Turner, an EOD technician with the company. "They go and set charges of different IEDs. That way, the second team comes in, without knowledge of what is out there, and they get the full range of the training that is involved here today."
The team sweeping the lane for IEDs first connects with a mock on-scene commander who gives them a general idea of where the IED is suspected to be buried. Utilizing different techniques and procedures, the team locates and identifies different components of the IED, said Turner.
"It’s not necessarily our job to find (IEDs), but it’s our job to come in and take care of them," Turner said.
The various explosive charges used during the training were intended to uncover the IED to allow the team to view and evaluate the situation in order to render the area safe, Wittlake said.
"We get new (EOD Marines) in all the time, and if we’re not overseas doing this, then we need to train technicians," Turner said. "Just like knowledge passed on to me by senior Marines, I pass the information onto the Marines of the next generation. That way we can stay ahead of the enemy and be the best we can be."