CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- More than 250,000 students have completed the Defeat the Device Training Program since its establishment seven years ago. Marines with 5th Marines, 11th Marine Regiment and Combat Logistics Battalion 1, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, joined the ranks of graduates aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 15, 2014.
Improvised explosive devices have been an ever-changing obstacle in the Marine Corps mission overseas. Evolving from a charges set under a pile of trash to buried, pressure plate detonated explosives, the Marines have been required establish counter measures from introducing standardized training to developing defensive technology.
IEDs have a lengthy history but due to the “new-age” IEDs, which has effected troop movement overseas since mid-2003 and widely responsible for the death of many Marines, has led the Marine Corps to develop a structured system to defend against hostile IED attacks.
In 2006, Training and Education Command tasked the Marine Corps Engineer School with standardizing the counter-improvised explosive operations training for the Marine Corps.
Master Sgt. James Paul, the Explosive Obstacle and Hazards Chief with the MCES said the DTD Training Program is offered to all Marine units and helps develop IED detection skills. The training is part of the Pre-Deployment Training Plan to ensure Marines have the abilities to locate IEDs and still complete the core mission.
The engineer school provides the service-level counter-improvised explosive device, DTD Training Program to develop the ability to spot common IED indicators. The training doesn’t teach how to defuse or dispose of IEDs, but to conduct the proper response to keep Marines safe, said Kevin Augustine, an instructor at the IED training facility.
“IEDs are incidental to the mission,” Augustine said. “Everybody must be aware of the changes to baseline. “Everybody must know how to respond if an IED event does occur.”
When Marines go on patrol or enter a kinetic environment, we hope their training will help mitigate or lower the potential risk through enhanced vigilance and IED identification skills, Augustine explained.
The program teaches Marines everything from the basics of identifying IED indicators to conducting evaluated convoys after attending hours of formal classes and practical application. Marines are introduced to equipment and techniques like the holly stick, a sickle-shaped tool to search for wires and confirm the presence of suspected charges.
Service members bring back their experiences from deployed environments and implement it to the program curriculum. The instructional staff conducts close coordination with deploying forces to synchronize the training with the rest of PTP.
“TECOM’s foresight in establishing and maintaining this training program likely saved life limb of thousands of Marines throughout the life of the program, not to mention the countless savings in equipment replacement costs,” Paul said.
The engineer school instructors may not get to see the results of their training first hand but Marines return with stories of how they applied skills gained during the course.
“There’s nothing to match the feeling I get in my chest when a senior enlisted Marine walks up and tells me they were in a situation overseas as a lance corporal and what they had learned in the [DTD Training Program] two or three years ago really paid dividends,” said Augustine.
After the many hours spent sitting in classes and applying it in a training environment, the Marines realized how important the training is once they had completed it.
Lance Cpl. Evan Needham, a recovery vehicle specialist with CLB-1 said, it wasn’t real to them before, but knowing that they’re deploying, it’s easier to take it seriously because it’s going to matter in the end.
“Before going into this I didn’t know how to think of [the training], but now I have the combat mindset,” said Needham.