MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (March 5, 2008) — Improvised explosive devices have been responsible for nearly 50% of American casualties (both fatalities and injures) in Iraq during the Global War on Terrorism, as stated in a congressional research service report for congress. The weapons, particularly deadly due to their ever-evolving designs, are easily concealed in vehicles, along roadsides and even on the human body, making them hard to locate and a formidable foe to service members.

Because of losses suffered from IEDs, the Joint IED Defeat Organization began to spearhead efforts to better train U.S. forces in how to properly handle situations involving IEDs. One such program called the “Five Week Road to War,” is taught by EOD technicians from AT Solutions in partnership with JIEDDO.

Marines from 2nd EOD Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, completed the second week of this training Feb. 29, here, in preparation for the obstacles they may face during future deployments to Iraq.

This week of training focused on advanced EOD techniques and featured classes on how to build and utilize special EOD devices. After five days of classes, the Marines participated in a practical application where they assembled the devices and used them to disable a number of simulated IEDs.

Dr. Sidney C. Alford, the inventor of the devices and chairman of Alford Technologies, the company that manufactures the tools, attended the training to help teach Marines proper building procedures and to monitor the devices’ performance.

“I am always pleased and it gives me some sort of satisfaction to hear how good the equipment is,” Alford explained. “But it is more useful for me to hear of limitations and difficulties for the kits and so on.”

Marines were taught classes on electronic theory, building circuits and how to apply those techniques to bomb building by Vic Stahl, a team leader from AT Solutions, a leading counter-terrorism training and consulting company.

The third week of the course will center on real-world scenarios, where Marines will utilize the techniques learned from the previous weeks’ training.

“Next week we will turn this entire area into a simulation of Iraq with both Sunni and Shiite towns,” Stahl said. “The Marines will work out of a forward-operating base and be tasked to respond to scenarios.”

Stahl further explained that the training they are receiving will be a mirror image of what they will face in Iraq. While there, the Marines will often be forced to respond to threats such as road-side bombs and vehicle-borne IEDs.

“It’s important that these Marines are prepared to face the possible threats in Iraq,” Stahl said. “It’s imperative that the Marines learn their jobs here instead of in war.”

At the end of the “Road to War” waits the final week of training where Marines will learn to handle threats such as chemical, radiological and biological substances that may be incorporated into the design of an IED.

Once complete, the “Road to War” will have prepared the Marines of 2nd EOD Company to better handle and dispose of the menace that is IEDs and will no doubt help to save Marines’ lives.

“Marines are able to come out here and make mistakes in this training so that they won’t make them in theater,” Stahl said. “The training has the potential to save a lot of lives.”

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