I'm Currently in Iraq with an Army reserve Corps-Wheeled combat engineer unit.
Here is the "Frankentruck" I rode up in from Kuwait. She may look ugly, but she got me here safely without problems. The uparmoring job they did in Kuwait was a total joke.
All they did was replaced the soft doors with a steel plates. Last month, I had to scrounge for steel all over Kuwait (Arifjan, Doha, SPOD, Camp Liberty) just to put steel and make pedastel mounts on the back sides of our humvees, and harden our 5ton dumps, HEMMTs, and 916s.
We've been fixing gravel roads and parking lots inside the camp. However, we are in the middle of uparmoring our graders and dozers so they can do missions outside the FOB.
Vehicles for when we hunt...
These vehicles were handed over to us by the unit we replaced. Great bunch of guys from the North Dakota Army National Guard. They saved alot of lives clearing the routes, finding over 200 IEDs during their tour, but at the cost of four soldiers. They and other engineer units during OIF II wrote the book on hunting IEDs.
We've been finding IEDs just about anywhere. Just the other day, the Chaplain went on patrol with us, was asking what to look for and said "Oh, you mean like that over there?" It turned out to be two buried 155mm shells. Hooah Chaplain!
We've been here over a month now and had two IEDs blow up on our patrols and been shot at a few times. Fortunately, no one has been hurt and no serious damage to our vehicles (knock on wood).
Typical views of the routes we patrol.
Georgian commando. We hang out with the Georgians (they hate to be called Russians). They have a reputation for being mean. Apparently, they got kicked out of LSA Anaconda and sent to our FOB for putting a chaplain in a headlock among other things. The story is one of the commandos was on a computer checking email/surfing, and when his time was up he wouldn't leave. A chaplain intervened and touched the commando who in-turn placed the chaplain in a sleeper hold, ala WWE style. Everyone here is scared of them, but we get along with them just fine. They come over to play volleyball, horse shoes, talk shit, and help them with their laptop computers (playing half life).
great post and thanks for your service.
Stay safe dammit! And thank you!
+1. Keep your head down, brother...
Thanks for your service and pics.
Wow, that hummvee looks familiar! we got the same kind of "up-armor" deal at Beuhring, and we painted the rest of the vehicle to make it LOOK like it had the real package. Some guys in one of the units attached to us painted one of their scout hummvees all black and put a skull and crossbones license plate on the front. I wish I'd gotten a pic of THAT one! I DO have a pic of one of the HEMMT's from our transportation company that was done over pretty good, and I'll send that as soon as I find my usb cable. I like those South African vehicles(can't remember that name of them)! They look like they'd be good against an IED threat, with the bottom sloped like that. Hopefully, you guys will never have to put them to that test! Good luck! If you're ever down south of al Hillah, we'll be looking out for ya!
Cool pics, thanks.
Damm they moved you fast. Looks like your MTOE is very close to mine except all our equipment is sectionalized to be airborne/air assault capable and we have DV-100's in place of D-7G's.
On that steel, I just sent a huge list of NSN's for plate steel and other steel stock to your AKO. I have ordered them with pretty good success.
Roger! We're doing pretty well out here. They're planning on setting up a Burger King at our FOB in a few months.... we'll see. I actually like the KBR/DFAC food at our FOB. The other companies in our BN get food mermited to them.
We have haji interpreters and workers who come on base to cleanup our area. We keep a close eye on them. (I don't trust them.)
Yeah we were at Camp Beuhring (formerly, Camp Udairi). That place was a zoo.
Thanks for the NSNs! Hooah!
If you know it off-hand, How about NSNs for ballistic glass and windshields (M998/M1114s)? It would be of great help.
Sorry we weren't able to meet at Fort Leonard Wood. We (IRRs) spent two weeks at FLW relearning theater construction, TCMS, project mgmt, CPM, gant charts, Terrabase, etc., thinking we were going combat-heavy (vertical/horizontal construction), and then on the last day of instruction, half of us received orders to combat engineer (Sapper) units... WTH? Very disappointed in the Army's IRR recall and retrain program. Seemed like HRC, FORSCOM, and the schools aren't talking to each other.
I have even more gripes with the quality of training we received at Fort Benning towards validation, but I'll save that for another post.
Anyways, I decided to put the news articles back up. Our unit made it in the LA Times a couple of days ago... And in the Army Times earlier last month...
February 25, 2005
THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ
Deaths Give Urgency to Search for Roadside Bombs
Combat engineers make their deliberate way down highways looking for signs of the unusual.
By David Zucchino, Times Staff Writer
BAQUBAH, Iraq — The chaplain and the medic noticed it first: a pile of freshly upturned soil at the side of the highway.
The two men were part of a combat engineer patrol searching for roadside bombs, the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq. Riding inside a "Buffalo," an armor-plated vehicle equipped with a mechanical boom, they stopped to investigate.
A claw on the boom tore into the dirt and unearthed two artillery shells wired to a blast pack and a cellphone, the components of a remote-controlled bomb known as an IED, or improvised explosive device. Soldiers detained two Iraqi men who had hurried away from the site as the patrol pulled up.
It was a moment of triumph Wednesday for the search team, the product of dogged patrolling of an IED-infested stretch of highway in the so-called Sunni Triangle 20 miles north of Baghdad.
Several times a day, every day, the "Apache Bomb Hunters" of the 467th Engineer Battalion slowly cruise the dust-streaked blacktops, exposing themselves to bombs, snipers and ambushes as they try to keep the roadways clear.
Other patrols speed up and down local highways, giving IED triggermen less time to detonate the bombs.
The engineers move deliberately, scanning the roadside for signs of such things as unusual mounds of dirt, garbage, brush or construction materials.
"Dirt, garbage, signs, cars, donkeys, gravel, vegetable carts, dead dogs — you name it and an IED has been found hidden in it," the battalion's operations sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Flanagan, said Thursday, minutes after the day's first patrol returned safely to its base camp.
Hunting roadside bombs is anxious, wearying work. The patrols intersect prosaic scenes of Iraqi urban life: men waiting in gasoline lines, boys playing soccer, butchers slaughtering livestock, girls in dark head scarves walking home from school. But virtually every day in Iraq, the commonplace is transformed by the tremendous explosion of a hidden IED.
Even before the first engineer patrol left the concertina wire and blast walls of Forward Operating Base Warhorse on Thursday, an IED triggered just after dawn killed a machine gunner in a truck from the same brigade a few miles to the northeast in the town of Muqdadiya. An insurgent hiding in a ravine used a cellphone to detonate a "daisy chain" of several bombs made from artillery shells, commanders said.
Later Thursday, a tank driver with the brigade was wounded when a bomb, also fashioned from artillery shells, exploded beneath his Abrams tank near Samarra, about 50 miles northwest of here. An Army explosives expert called in to investigate was killed when a second bomb was detonated by remote control.
The deaths underscored the urgency felt by the engineers as they scanned the roadsides in brilliant sunlight, trying to maintain their focus hour after hour.
The attacks have a certain rhythm, and over time the engineers learn to spot subtle shifts. On Wednesday, for instance, medic Sgt. Leslie Johnson noticed that many shops were closed and that few people were on the roads. Normally, the area is bustling, often with young men throwing rocks at passing patrols.
"After a while, you learn to sense when things just aren't quite right," Johnson said as he walked the roadway in helmet and flak vest, his finger beside the trigger of his automatic rifle as he protected fellow engineers who had stopped to inspect a culvert.
The differences had made Johnson suspicious, and so the fresh dirt mound drew his attention. The battalion chaplain, Capt. Daniel Bell, had noticed the mound too, especially because the dirt interrupted the lines of new tire marks on the shoulder.
The chaplain had volunteered for the patrol. He said he believed in ministering to his men at times of greatest peril.
Minutes before the mission, he had led the soldiers in prayer, reading from Proverbs 23:17: "Be thou in the fear of the Lord all day long."
The Apache Bomb Hunters, an Army Reserve battalion from Memphis, Tenn., arrived in Iraq just five weeks ago, attached to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
They took over from an engineer unit that had detected and detonated more than 200 roadside bombs during its year in Iraq, said Flanagan, the operations sergeant.
One of that battalion's engineers was killed by an IED, he said.
"They gave us good advice," Flanagan said.
"They told us: Stay alert, trust your instincts, look closely for anything that seems out of place."
A driver on Thursday's patrol, Spc. Daniel Shobe, was scanning both sides of the road as he guided his armored Humvee across the asphalt, his automatic rifle tucked beside his seat.
He drove the vehicle in the middle of the highway in order to keep it as far as possible from the roadsides.
Oncoming traffic swerved to the shoulder. Traffic headed in the same direction pulled over and stopped, giving wide berth to the heavily armed patrol.
Shobe was on just his seventh patrol, but already he had learned to control his anxiety. He concentrates on the mission, he said, blocking out thoughts of explosions.
In the Humvee turret, Spc. Daniel Ragan swung his grenade launcher from side to side. He also kept an M240 machine gun within reach. It was his 20th patrol, and he was still trying to shake the sense of dread that sweeps over him before most missions.
"I was real nervous at first, a lot more than now," said Ragan, who like the other engineers wears no special protection beyond the helmets and vests worn by other soldiers.
"But I still have that feeling in the back of my mind that something bad could happen any second."
After almost four hours of searching, the patrol slowly made its way back to base.
The soldiers made a final search of Route Detroit, then swept down Route Danger and Route Taco. They came to a brief stop at the gate of Camp Warhorse. "Ah, home again," Shobe said.
"Feels so good every single time."
The men safely inside, the gate swung shut on the rest of Iraq, ordinary and implacable, and full of menace.
February 09, 2005
Operation Trailblazer makes Iraqi roads safer
AFPS Press Release
Story by Sgt. Matthew Acosta, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq -- In an effort to make Iraqi roads safer for fellow Soldiers, a U.S Army Reserve company of combat engineers patrol selected roads near Baqubah, searching for "trouble" in a mission called Operation Trailblazer.
Soldiers from Company A, 467th Engineer Battalion, Memphis, Tenn., took over operations from the 141st Engineer Battalion, North Dakota National Guard, at Forward Operating Base Warhorse.
Their mission is focused on searching pre-determined supply routes in the Baqubah area for improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists.
"Our job is to go out and look for trouble in the form of IEDs planted near the sides of roads," said Sgt. 1st Class Dallas Bryan, combat engineer.
With teams of 18 Soldiers or more, the "Trailblazers" set out on convoys of several supporting vehicles and one "Buffalo," scouring the road-side for signs of terrorist activity.
The Buffalo, a ground mine detection system, uses a hydraulic arm to sift through trash piles or probe areas where IEDs are thought to have been hidden.
"Between a few rotating teams, we search the roads several times a day looking for conspicuous things that might be used to conceal explosives, such as piles of trash, containers or anything that looks like it's out of the ordinary, like freshly patched potholes in the road or new road signs close to the road's edge," Bryan said.
When a team finds a suspicious looking site, it closes off the road and sends in the Buffalo, he said. If an IED is confirmed, the unit marks site and calls for an explosive ordnance disposal unit to neutralize the device.
Bryan said since the unit has taken over, it has been credited with finding three explosive devices in its first few days of patrols.
"The more (explosives) we find, the less that's out there," said Sgt. Michael Cochran, gunner. "It's a dangerous job, but it needs to be done."
Although the unit travels at a relatively slow rate of speed, the fear of being attacked doesn't faze the crew much, Bryan said.
"We really can't drive too fast because by the time we see a device it'll be too late to stop before it goes off on us or the next vehicle," he said. "We need to keep a slow steady pace and if we suspect something, we call in the Buffalo. Of course it makes us a good target, but that's not something we normally think about."
Bryan said once they start the mission, they focus on the road, letting the gunners manning the M2HB .50-caliber machine guns protect the convoy.
"Everyone deals with the stress of what we do in different ways," said Spc. James Acker, combat engineer. "But once we get going we concentrate on what we're doing and if we find something, it's more of an adrenaline rush."
Normally the Trailblazers cruise the routes looking for explosives but sometimes they will encounter a vehicle they think needs to be searched because of a tip from an Iraqi traffic checkpoint.
"We do anything we need to do to make the roads safer," Cochran said. "If we feel we need to pull a vehicle over to search it, we'll do it. Then (we) go back to where we left off, searching the roadsides."
For the Trailblazers of the 467th, the job has just begun. Since the operation has started countless numbers of ordnance and IEDs have been removed from the streets of Iraq, saving potential casualties, Bryan said.
"As long as we have an eventful day finding an IED or two, that's one less possible casualty," Bryan said. "And if we don't have an eventful day, then it's another quiet day for us, and that's not a bad thing either."
hey thanks GulDuCal, for the pix and insight.
so, is it the shit-hole you expected and heard about, or too early to tell?
well, keep your head down (on one of those iraqi beauties) and on a swivel during action.
Stay safe & thanks for the kick-ass job!
Thanks for clearing the MSRs and ASRs for those of us that drive them. I can't thank you enough for doing what you do because I know that you and your soldiers have saved the lives of my men by finding those IEDs. You keep doing your part and I will keep killing the fuckers that make them.
I hear you on the training, Bragg is much the same way, What real quality training we are getting here is what we are doing ourselves and coming from the fact that we are holding ourselves to a higher standard than the TSB requires.
The two IRR recalled Warrants that I met there held the same opinion of the process that you do,
Give me a few hours on the windshield and I should have it for you.
Thanks for your service to our country and God speed your safe return!!
thank you for your service
GulDuCal..........we don't hear jack about the Georgians (or Russians) helping us out in Iraq.
is this because their are only a few of them, or is their mission indirect?
just curious, as I suspect this (their help) is payback to us for the Chechnya 'problem' that we have helped them out with
Thank you stay safe.
The military needs to get off it's ass and buy some of those South African "Buffalo" vehicles. We had a cvilian contract team take a direct hit from a car bomber in one. It blew it on it's side and blew the drive train off but the hull and passengers were unscathed except some small cuts and bruises. Hell it didn't even scratch the paint on it.
They are, in fact they are now being built in SC. We just sent 4 guys to the factory for a class on them!
I was down at C-3 for a while. The Georgians are really pretty cool when you talk to them, bored as hell like everyone else. Some of their AKs look as bad as the Iraqi's. They've got a couple of BMPs that they take out on patrol- supposedly everyone is scared of them. Their tactical doctrine is a little different- when they take fire, they circle teh APCs and lay down return fire in a 360 shooting everything!
Are the "crop duster" helicopters still there? They actually flew one of them fogging for mosquitos while I was there. I was scared something would fall off and hit me if I got too close, and that was just while they were sitting on the ground.
When the Georgians left our base last year, they stole a laptop computer. We caught them before the got on the plane at Speicher. Nice, huh?
Two weeks ago I was in Baqubah and we got hit by a car bomb. I was in the lead vehicle and passed the car bomb, but the humvee behind us got hit (luckily, not too badly). We were like.... WTF??
Then we immediately dismounted and chased every Haji in sight.
We found this guy lying down in the middle of a dirt road. I was like WTF's this guy's problem? "We think he's drunk, sir."
We put this guy with the rest of the detainees and he starts to unbuckle his pants. We made him stop. Then he gets up walks into a tree, hits his head then falls back down. At that point we cuffed him.
We didn't find anything on any of these guys so we had to let them all go.
more pics of the aftermath...
pics of the Quick Reaction Force which arrived on site...
Here's me. You can see the burning wreckage in the background.
Pic of the humvee behind us that got hit. Two flat tires, damaged headlights, smashed windshield, and side windows. Other than that, the soldiers inside were alright.
Needless to say, we didnt catch the m@therf*ers who attacked us with the VBIED (car bomb).
Maybe next time. If there is one... hopefully there won't be.
Have you guys gotten to play with the engineering Stryker?
Since your last post I have arrived here and have all the RG-31's, Buffalos, Huskies, Meercats, etc that are in country with me.
So that's where they all went. Battalion keeps promising us these mythical RG-31s. We did get a Husky though.
Sounds like you have the same type of mission.
Good luck, keep your head down.
LOL we just literally got some new ones yesteday. Route clearance in one part of an about 11 part mission.... If you need anything information or parts for those let me know.
Unfortunately, no.. we aren't part of a Stryker Brigade. Our combat engineer battalion is Corps-Wheeled.
THanks for the photos - keep up the good work
I know what you mean. We've been tasked out to do a myriad of things throughout this AO, being the only unit around with heavy equipment.
Roger that on parts.
some more pictures. Sorry, I cant show pictures of IEDs we find.
Sometimes we search houses and cars along our trouble routes. Here's some weapons we find.
an odd AK captured by one of the other companies. can you tell what's wrong?
some of our odd weapons.
investigating a dead dog.
A 2nd Platoon humvee damaged by an IED. Gunner got shrapnel in the hand, everyone else were OK except for hearing damage. We have six soldiers put in for purple hearts.
Site where 2nd's humvee got hit. Crater up ahead. Couldn't find the bad guys....grrr.
Typical IED fragments.
1st PLT SGT, after getting hit by an IED. Smashed windows, damaged doors, punctured fuel tank, flat tires. He's been hit 5 times by IEDs; all in the same vehicle. He calls it his lucky humvee. He was serious about getting it repaired and back in action ASAP.
One of our Sappers running up with flex cuffs.
That's right we caught the muthas !! Got three of them and found evidence.
this guy used to be a Colonel in Saddam's army.
Things aren't always bad out here. We actually get to meet some nice people. Tea party...
kids love us. they think we're the ice-cream/candy truck.
some of our toys...
one of our bigger toys, a D9 dozer...
D9 in action clearing trash along a route. (Sapper in foreground carrying Mossberg 500).
Here's our "flaming backpack"... Demo used to blow up trees along a route.
Me on patrol with an Infantry unit north of Baqubah.
thanks supportourwarriors.com for hosting the pics.
Great pics, thanks!
Stay safe & thank you so much for your service!
Great pics and great job over there!
Glad I can help you out with the picture hosting,use as much as you want.
Where are all those guys who say we don't need up-armored hummers?
California and Washington DC.
Awesome pics guys! Keep up the awesome work!
I'll go out on a limb and say that the two are not interchangable.
Looks like a Czech flare pistol, like a 26.5mm and a single loose round of API .50cal
Should have let them keep it and maybe one of 'em would have figured out a way to chamber that round....
Yeah it is a flare pistol. That cartridge just happened to be in the bag with the pistol.
I found a video floating around the net about us...
Operation Trailblazer 02-25-2005
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq -- In an effort to make Iraqi roads safer for fellow Soldiers, a U.S Army Reserve company of combat engineers patrol selected roads near Baqubah, Iraq, searching for “trouble.”
Sgt Matthew Acosta 22nd MPAD
I think it was a tank or APC turning around, would be my guess.
Funny to see my old stomping grounds randomly on the net. I was at warhorse in 04 supporting the 1st ID as an EOD guy. Probably the best chow hall in the AO! Fuck I ate better there than I do here at home. But I also spent about 3 months eating just MRE's so I know the flipside.
Those old crop duster chopers never flew while I was there.
The ND boys who first starting running the Buffalo and Meerkat were good guys. I hope they gave you good training before they left.
Below is a story from the Army Times feat the ND guys, and a few EOD guys....
sorry no link to original article
August 2, 2004
On The Road With The Bomb Hunters
Teams face down deadly threats every day inside ‘the hornet’s nest’
By Gina Cavallaro, Times staff writer
BAQUBAH, Iraq — A deadly game of cat and mouse takes place here every day.
An unseen enemy plants the traps — roadside bombs intended for traveling coalition soldiers — and coalition soldiers hunt the traps down.
And while one team finds the bombs and another team destroys them, sometimes the bombs hit the teams.
The soldiers working in the western Diyala province under the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team are the busiest cats in this game. It’s in western Diyala, legend has it, that the first improvised explosive device — as the bombs are called — was detonated against coalition forces last summer.
The area they patrol has the highest concentration of IEDs in Iraq, and the bombs increasingly are directed at Iraqi citizens.
Since mid-March, when the 3rd BCT began working in the province, there have been more than 500 IEDs. Some were found and destroyed by U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces; some detonated by the enemy.
In the eastern Diyala province, by comparison, there were fewer than 70 IEDs in the same period. And in the central-western Sunni Triangle that encompasses such hot spots as Samarra, Tikrit and Balad, coalition soldiers and Iraqis found or detonated about 250.
“We’re in such high demand and we can only cover so much area. Iraq’s a big place,” said Lt. Col. Robert Fode, commander of the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion, a National Guard unit from North Dakota, whose three line companies search for IEDs from Tikrit to north of Baghdad.
“Are we staying ahead of them? I don’t think so. We’re spread thin. And, we’ve seen an increase in [vehicle-borne] IEDs.”
The hunters of the 141st, the Trailblazers, sweep a 48-kilometer route around forward operating base Warhorse in north Baqubah several times each day. When they find an IED, they call out the 748th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, the bomb killers who destroy the threat.
Not a day goes by without the discovery of an IED.
“We know that what we do helps and saves lives, but it really doesn’t seem to be slacking off, at least in this area,” said Capt. Rusty Romans, commander of Charlie Company, headquartered in Baqubah. His company hunts down the lethal devices, 90 percent of which are then destroyed by the EOD team.
“I guess I think of it as their last-ditch effort to disrupt our efforts at establishing a government elected by the citizens,” Romans said.
The Trailblazers have been attached to the 3rd BCT since the first week of April in this province whose population of more than 850,000 is 40 percent Sunni, 35 percent Shiite and 25 percent Kurd and other ethnic groups.
The brigade’s headquarters and its four forward operating bases have been attacked regularly with mortars and rockets that usually don’t hit their targets. As some soldiers say, “Mortar man is a bad shot.”
But a new and tragic threat visited brigade headquarters June 8, when a powerful car bomb took the life of Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan at the camp’s front gate. And July 4, Iraqi police killed two suicide bombers wearing explosives around their bodies before they could detonate their deadly cargo.
Soldiers living at the brigade’s camps are required to wear full battle rattle anytime they step outside, a mode of dress one soldier likened to living inside a George Foreman grill.
“The 2nd BCT [of the 4th Infantry Division] had 32 soldiers killed in Diyala,” said Lt. Col. Keitron Todd, 40, the executive officer of the 3rd BCT. “They had a tank destroyed. This is a bad, bad area. We feel like we’re in the hornet’s nest.”
A dangerous job
The clue to a bomb could take any shape — a half-inch piece of wire protruding from a bush or a patch of fresh dirt or a plastic bag, box or brick that wasn’t there the day before. The Trailblazers comb every inch of the route visually and rely on huge metal detectors.
It’s a dangerous job. One soldier was killed May 3 when the IED they were looking for found them first. But not everything on the roadway is a bomb.
“We run into a lot of fakes, bait. It could just be kids messing around. The other day we found two plastic bottles tied together,” Romans said. The prior-service soldier says his experience in a Special Forces unit years ago has come into play for this mission.
“It helps me think more like a terrorist, and I think that’s what this is, unconventional warfare. They don’t have the means to fight back and resist,” Romans said.
In their arsenal of bomb-detecting equipment is the MeerKat, a four-wheeled vehicle that looks like a creature from a Star Wars movie.
The South African-made vehicle has a two-inch-thick V-shaped hull in which the driver sits, and two retractable panels that detect changes in the magnetic field. The panels are lowered to a flattened position and driven over a suspected bomb.
“Sometimes it’s kind of stressful driving this thing. It gets so hot in there. It has three fans, but it sucks in hot air from the engine and the battery,” said Spc. Jeremy Smith, 25. “It’s not invincible, but it’s the best we’ve got right now to get close to the explosive devices.”
Recently, however, the MeerKat proved vulnerable when a 155mm artillery round exploded beneath one and totally mangled the ground-penetrating radar panels and part of the chassis. The driver walked away unscathed, but the machine was put out of commission until new parts could be delivered and installed.
The bomb hunters also use remote-controlled cars — the store-bought kind a child might find under the tree on Christmas morning — to approach a danger zone. A digital camera is affixed to the tops of the cars, so the engineers can see still photos or video of the potential explosive without approaching the device themselves.
The other half of the bomb squad are the engineers from 748th EOD, whose dizzying daily schedule is akin to a fire department tasked with putting out the blazes of hell.
The team uses remote-controlled robots to inspect possible IEDs. Sometimes they use hand tools to dig up live mortar or artillery rounds that have been buried into the dirt on the sides of the road.
They use a no-nonsense approach to keeping anyone from getting hurt, posting soldiers with weapons drawn to keep cars or pedestrians from approaching.
Responding to reports of the discovery of two IEDs in a southern area of Baqubah, the EOD team sets out with its trucks and security team for a narrow road alongside an inner-city canal.
The dirt on the edge of the canal is soft from recent dredging and piled up to the level of the driver of any Humvee. In other words, it’s a prime location for a hidden bomb, and the soldiers find and destroy one with their robot.
They find a second IED about 100 meters away on the other side of the road. Before the soldiers can blow it, they must block a steady stream of traffic. Still, some cars slip through.
“If they come up that road, you … open up fire on them,” Sgt. 1st Class Scott Miller, an EOD technician and team leader, barked at soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, who had secured the area.
Miller and his team work in six-month rotations, and they move around to different areas of Iraq as needed. Their job is one of the most stressful in the Army and the western Diyala province is the bane of their existence.
“I can’t wait to get out of here. This place is horrible. It’s horrible,” Miller said, describing the unrelenting pace of EOD’s operations here.
After destroying the two IEDs with remote charges, the team prepared to head north of town, where soldiers who had reported another IED had been waiting all day for the bomb surgeons.
But then, BOOM! A third, undetected IED blew as a Bradley fighting vehicle assigned to the 1-6 moved out. No one was hurt, but nerves were rattled and heads shook in disbelief.
“You’ve got to have thick skin to do this job,” said Sgt. Jeremy Caquelin, an EOD technician.
Thick skin, good eyes and resistance to high heat.
Halfway through a typical afternoon hunting expedition in which the 120-degree wind feels like a jet blast, the Trailblazers take a break to rest their eyes and stretch their legs.
It isn’t a long road trip — about three hours — but the painstaking task of looking for clues to the presence of IEDs needs a sharp, fresh eye. What they find — and what they miss — could mean the difference between life and death.
“If we don’t find anything, it’s a quiet day. When we find one, it’s a good day… we know we’re saving someone’s life,” said 2nd Lt. Donovan Blazek, 33, leader of 1st Platoon.
On their IED hunting missions, the soldiers drive at 25 mph or less, said 2nd Lt. Donovan Blazek, 33, leader of 1st Platoon. And that makes them a target. “Finding the bombs is an adrenaline rush. … Sometimes it feels like they’re setting it out just for us. It’s almost a personal thing.”
Thanks for the pics and info, and for being a great American.
Outstanding pictures. I wish I had found them earlier.
Hey guys, for all of you over there Ya'll are doing a great job. Those IED's can be a SOB sometimes. IF ya'll ever need some TTP's or anything on IED's just let me know. I have just returned from over there, was there for a year, i have a lot of good info on them.. Guys you take care and watch your ass. AND GIVE"UM HELL
"CrazyHorse, Spank"um and Ride"
Please take the time to confirm someones identity before you make open ended offers on the internet to share TTP's. The only way I can see that it is safe to exchange the info is thru SIPERNET or official mail. AKO (or any other form of e-mail) can be accesed by civilians and guests and is unsecure, phone lines are deffinetly unsecure and passenger pigeons are extinct I believe. Remember your talking about classified info here.
ya right that is why they are all over the internet smart ass, besides who the died and you god? Our boys are over there taking a beating and you are worried about someone telling another how to look for them. Well i guess you better tell every one in the world, seeing how it has only been on the news, in news papers. Hey guy, do the military a favor, have a nice cup of SHUT THE FUCK YOU. People do help other people here you know. I think that was the purpose of the post, "HUNTING IED's". Besides how many times have been over there in the last 2 years. I have lost to many firends over there to let this go, if one person has a good idea, it should be pasted on. Guy chill out.
A little hostile huh?
Oh your post is more comical than anything.
Here you go again talking out your ass. Yeah some of out TTP's are quite obvious and hard to keep secret, others I consider very well guarded. I'm not telling you it would be a bad idea to share the knowledge, by all means share what you have learned, just use secure communication methods to do it.
I'm not god, just a distant cousin.
Don't worry about my background Sarge, but I can assure you I've spent more than a day in Iraq, eaten my share or MRE's and seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. And being EOD probably means that I know a bit more about IED's than you.
Again I encourage you to share your infinte knowledge, just be sure who's getting it.
Take a bit of your own advice and "chill out"
i have agood idea about you, i bet you have been to iraq maybe once, and i bet you are NG arent you. YOU have to be, That would explain it. I could understand this coming from a PVT. But damn guy you have about 9 years worth of Active Duty and only an E-5, that tells alot right there. I have to same amount in and i am an E-7. Lets see here, ya, i think i know my shit. I would hate to see your soldiers if you are like this on the internet. Man you must have some real issues.
With all due respect, enough already!!! If you're going to whip out the tape measures and compare who's is bigger, take it to the pit. This is not GD. People come here for advice before deploying and to assist those currently deployed, not to watch a pissing contest.....