Counter IED at European Combined Arms Training Center in Grafenwoehr

The Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany, added the new MRAP All Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, to its fleet of vehicles in 2009. The vehicle is built for small unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous, and urban environments. In 2010 the JMTC added 10 M-ATVs and 40 Max Pro MRAP vehicles to the fleet. Pictured here, Mr. Kyle Dorr explains some of the vehicles unique features to his Soldier-students prior to taking the vehicle out into the Hohenfels Training Area. (U.S. Army photo by Michael Beaton, JMTC Public Affairs)

European Combined Arms Training Center offers Counter-IED training

By Maj. Keith E. Matiskella, 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command
February 7, 2011

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Since Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are a major threat to U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Soldiers operating in Afghanistan, and those in Iraq the Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) at Rose Barracks introduced two new courses to support Counter-IED (C-IED) training for deploying units.

The first course, the MRAP Master Driver course certifies a unit’s NCOs to train and license Soldiers on the maintenance and operation of a specific Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. The second is a CIED Master Trainer course for mid-grade NCOs and junior officers. This course develops subject-matter-experts to advise commanders of the assets available to support the C-IED training of their units, at the company and battalion levels.

“The train-the-trainer aspect of both these courses is effective for U.S. Forces because it allows us to get the training to more Soldiers by creating instructors in every unit,” said Sgt. Major Lance Dyckman, CATC. “By developing leaders in our partner nations, who are able to provide high-quality training on relevant subjects, we are building the capacities of these Armies to train autonomously not just providing training to a few of their Soldiers.”

The MRAP drivers training program started in May 2010, shortly after The Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC) received a significant number of MRAP vehicles, the MaxxPro and MRAP All Terrain vehicles for their Mission Rehearsal Exercise training fleet. 

“These vehicles gave us the capability to train students at JMTC, which was an opportunity usually only received in theater, from a New Equipment Training team, or from a few training locations in CONUS,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Fairchild, CATC Master Driver. “Poland was the first to take advantage of this opportunity and 15 Polish Soldiers from a Brigade deploying to Afghanistan successfully trained at Rose Barracks.”

Since then, 232 Soldiers from Poland, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria graduated from the course with more than 150 already scheduled to complete the course by the end of the year. 

The course promotes the same standards used to certify U.S. Soldiers, and those Soldiers trained can return to their countries confident that they can train Soldiers to use safe-driving tactics, while defeating the potentially deadly impacts of an IED attack, said Fairchild.

These countries not having their own MRAP fleets to train on when they aren’t deploying is a challenge. However, the foundation is there to give them a self-sustaining capability once the material resources are available, he said.

“There is confidence that comes from knowing you have a piece of equipment that will protect you from attack,” said Dyckman. This course can only increase the effectiveness of our ISAF partners conducting operations side-by-side with U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan.

Likewise, the CIED Master Trainer course was introduced last January to help U.S. units integrate C-IED training requirements and resources into their unit’s deployment training. In October 2010 students of several partner-nations participated in the first course. The students received instruction on IED composition and emplacement tactics, NATO C-IED doctrine, and how to combat the threat. The students also learn to plan C-IED training lanes, while also becoming familiar with other resources and courses available at JMTC to support multinational C-IED training.

“These students and those that have already signed-up for future courses, will take-back the latest in enemy IED tactics, and an understanding of NATO doctrine, said Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Hudson, CATC senior C-IED instructor. “They will be prepared to plan C-IED training events for themselves.”

Although high-tech resources may not be available to all the countries trainers say it is important that the Soldiers learn basic C-IED operations, and develop an awareness of the devices, while learning battle drills and techniques that can be executed by small unit patrols, he said. 

“The CATC can’t train every Soldier in U.S. Army Europe or every multinational Soldier, but we try to train enough leaders to conduct training within their units,” said Dyckman.