6/15/2012 By Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle, Marine Corps Bases Japan
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa, Japan — Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 conducted vehicle-borne improvised explosive device training at Kadena Air Base June 11.
The squadron, part of Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted the training to familiarize Marines with safe disarming of vehicle-borne IEDs.
During the training, the explosive ordnance disposal technicians had to safely open the vehicle, search for charges, and deal with other obstacles given to them such as a crowd of people and notional gunfire.
“In the world we live in right now, with vehicle-borne IEDs in Afghanistan, we need to constantly train Marines on the threat,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley M. Passage, an EOD technician with the squadron. “The enemy is constantly adapting and evolving, and we have to do the same.”
The Marines of the squadron agree that continuous training helps them maintain proficiency in their military occupational specialty.
“EOD skills are just like any other skill,” said Gunnery Sgt. Marion E. Eggers, the EOD staff noncommissioned officer in charge with the squadron. “The more you sharpen them, the better they get.”
EOD must train in a variety of skills in order to complete the mission, said Eggers.
“We train in a wide range of areas such as homemade explosives, electronics, post-blast investigations, unexploded ordnance and so on, but the bottom line is we need to train and we will train to achieve mission success,” said Eggers.
The Marines enjoy the training, but they know that every mistake they make in training could be costly in a real-life scenario, according to Passage.
“Any mistake in training is a learning point you don’t want to repeat because in real life you don’t get a second chance,” said Passage. “You can’t make a mistake because you are not only risking your life but the lives of everyone around you.”
Although the Marines train regularly, there are other variables and obstacles they can face while deployed.
“The enemy can attack us while we are trying to disarm an IED, or they can be watching us work and come up with new ways to attack us in the future,” said Sgt. Paul I. Mead, an EOD technician with the squadron.
The Marines were successful in their training and look forward to being challenged with similar scenarios in the future, according to Eggers.
“They did very well even though this was their first time operating with a vehicle-borne IED,” said Eggers. “They had multiple problems in the vehicle mixed with a couple of distractions from us as the scenario played out. They applied everything they learned, and I was very pleased with their performance.”