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Minnesota National Guard
IEDS lane provides realistic training

CAMP ADDER, Iraq - Since becoming available for use last October, the improvised explosive device training lane has allowed several platoons of Soldiers here to get a realistic, firsthand look at the wide array of dangers they commonly face when venturing "outside the wire"

Estimates have tied more than 2,000 combat deaths in Iraq and 178 in Afghanistan to IEDs since October 2001, making them one of "the most lethal threats" faced by US and Coalition Forces, said Capt Rob Metcalfe, a Breezy Point, Minn, native and assistant S-3 for the 1st Brigade Troops Battalion, 34th Infantry Division

"The idea of the IEDS lane was to allow sets of Soldiers the opportunity to practice their current [tactics, techniques and procedures] and train their senior leadership," said Metcalfe, who is one of the key coordinators of the lane

The IEDS lane is available for any unit that wants to use it; they simply have to make a reservation in advance, allowing for ample time to secure an open date and set up the lane itself One of the main benefits of conducting training on the four-mile circular course, Metcalfe says, is the broad spectrum of scenarios it allows Service members to recreate and subsequently learn from

"The entire lane is currently designed to recreate a wide array of threats," said Metcalfe "Units can practice vehicle recovery, medical evacuations or how to set up a landing zone Basically, leaders can pretty much refine their standard operating procedures, based on what they learn out there"

Various pyrotechnics are allowed for use on the lane, which provide realistic recreations of IED detonations, said Chief Petty Officer Mike Green, a Navy electronic warfare officer on loan to the 1-34th BTB

Platoon-sized convoys typically go through the lane during nighttime hours This makes the IEDs harder to spot and forces the troops to employ a variety of methods to find them, but these are the conditions troops commonly face while on missions, Green said

"This training device is also a good opportunity for junior leaders to get in there and take on a leadership position," said Green "Overall, we've had pretty good feedback on the lane itself when the units conduct their [after-action review] We tell them in the beginning, 'Don't get wrapped up in the scenarios, just remember your training'"

During the last week of December, a BTB company conducted a twilight convoy exercise on the lane where they were required to find no less than four well-hidden IEDs while safely escorting a "supply truck" to the end of its four-mile route A scout vehicle led the way, scoping out the road ahead of the rest of the convoy

Nearly three-quarters of the way through, a pair of loud pops - accompanied by quick flashes - went off, signifying the convoy had been hit The second vehicle was informed via radio of an "injury" sustained by one of its passengers during the blast, after which the Soldier was moved to a stretcher and treated with combat lifesaving techniques

"It was great training, and my guys performed really well, considering the conditions," said 1st Lt Jon Anderson, 2-136th Engineer Company, who supervised the training "This is a great way to train on real-world threats in a realistic environment"

The lane was created because Multi-National Corps Iraq directed that all major forward operating bases in the Middle East were to have one, but Green says the training aide can - and should - be used elsewhere
"Setting up IED practice lanes is a good concept to implement not only here, but back home as well," said Green

By Spc Dustin Perry, 1/34th BCT Public Affairs

NorthStar GUARD Online: 12/29/06
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