The Mississippi National Guard Counter IED Integration Cell brought a special program to the Southern Miss Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) training field Sept. 11, educating future military leaders on IED awareness.
IED is an acronym for “Improvised Explosive Device,” which can be made from numerous assorted household items and chemicals.
Hunter Linton, a junior business major and cadet company commander, was grateful for the opportunity. “This is the first year that (Mississippi National Guard) has done this,” he said. “They’re very busy, so it’s an honor and a privilege that we get this kind of training.”
According to the Washington Post, over 2,500 service member deaths were the result of IED attacks in both Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as the Afghan front, Operation Enduring Freedom.
Tommy Crane, a retired military personnel and counter IED training integrator, helped run the Mobile Threat Display Truck, which travels across Mississippi, and in some areas of Alabama and Louisiana. “(The truck) helps soldiers become aware of what’s been an asymmetric threat over the years,” Crane said.
The truck contains many features, including charts and diagrams of IEDs used in the past, as well as displays of IED terrorist components and accessories.
Crane and his associates gave a lecture and show-and-tell of possible IEDs. There were also instructional videos on IED awareness and potential threats that soldiers face.
One facet of the event included IED robot demonstrations. Two robots, a Talon and a Fast TAK, are specially programmed robots used by the military to disable potential IEDs. They include mechanical arms, all-purpose terrain treads and a camera, which enables soldiers to stay a safe distance from the threat. The students were able to use a specially designed controller made by Playstation to steer the robots around the field and watch the live video images transmitted from the robot’s camera.
One confusing aspect for civilian students was the USM Mailout that all students received the morning of the event seemingly advertising for all students to attend, despite it was an ROTC-only training session. Craig Smith, a senior foreign language major and ROTC student, clarified the nature of this email.
“One of the reasons that an email would have been (sent) out to make the community aware is just because the nature of the training itself can cause fear and we try to keep that to a minimum. We’ve had issues before,” Smith said.
Linton explained the importance of this training for the Golden Eagle Battalion.
“As a future leader in the military, (we) need to be aware of IEDS: what goes into making IEDs, how they explode, anything (we) need to know about it, we’re learning it here,” Linton said.