The platoon leader immediately took control when he noticed a bomb-shaped device and a cord sticking out from a corner wall during a routine patrol. After ordering the platoon to a halt, he withdrew the unit to a safe zone, where they discussed the lethality of the suspicious device that lay ahead of them.
This was one scenario Djiboutian Army Academy cadets faced during an explosive ordnance disposal identification exercise, May 18, 2016, at Arta, Djibouti.
U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 taught a three-phase counter-IED course to the cadets - the fundamentals of patrolling, the signs of possible IEDs and what to do in case of a detonation.
“We are learning how to react if you find [an IED] so nobody gets hurt,” said Cadet Nasra, 2nd year student at Djiboutian Army Academy. “It is really important to learn about different types of homemade IEDs.”
The training taught the cadets how to immediately respond to a casualty and provide first aid, establish security and re-establish a chain of command before moving to a safe location, reducing the risk of exposure to enemy forces.
For this training to be useful in a contingency, it’s necessary for partner militaries to work closely together.
“We have different processes from [our U.S. partners], so to collaborate is very important since we’re in the same area,” Nasra said.
During the training, the instructor would verbally signal an explosion and designate a victim or group of victims from the Djiboutian platoon for students to react to.
“Our goals are to make more aware and perceptive soldiers, and to have them know what procedures to use in their coming careers,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Bruce, a Mobile Unit 1 EOD technician. “Counter-IED training is important because it’s still one of the top ten tools used by the enemy. We can teach it, but it’s something that’s ever evolving and we need to stay on our toes to keep combating what they’re putting out there.”
Bruce explained how C-IED training is critical not just for the Djiboutian army, but to the African Union Mission in Somalia as terror organizations around the continent continue to use and evolve IED technology.
“Countless lives and resources could be lost and no progression would be made against terror organizations if militaries were not trained in counter-IED tactics,” he said.
Cadet Wais, 2nd year student at Djiboutian Army Academy agrees, knowing what his future may hold as an officer.
“We are future leaders,” he said. “We’ll go into Somalia in maybe two or three years, so it’s very important to know how to act when we find IEDs.”
As the cadets graduate and become military officers, C-IED training and vigilance will continue to serve them as they support AMISOM in Somalia.