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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AFP and JSOTF-P Partner for IED Awareness Training in Basilan

By Lt.j.g. Theresa Donnelly, Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines Public Affairs

BASILAN, Republic of the Philippines – Members of Joint Special Operations Task Force– Philippines (JSOTF-P) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Task Unit partnered with Armed Forces of the Philippines First General Construction Company to conduct Improvised Explosive Device awareness training Oct. 19 in Barangay Camp Uno, Lamitan.

Two EOD-qualified members of AFP Marine Battalion Landing Team-9 (MBLT9) served as instructors for the class along with JSOTF-P personnel. Although JSOTF-P regularly conducts EOD subject matter exchanges, this was the first time the joint team taught these AFP forces.

“It is very good that we have these exchanges and share this knowledge. It keeps our troops safe,” said 1st Lt. Meichor A. Gonzaludo, an officer with MBLT9.

Using a combination of classroom briefings and interactive demonstrations, instructors from MBLT9 and JSOTF-P taught 40 AFP Seabees and Marines basic Improvised Explosive Device (IED) awareness. The training covered types and purposes of IEDs, the physics and materials in the explosives, and steps to take if they suspect they have found an IED.

“We hope that this training will reduce the chances of injury and give them the tools they need to make the scene safe once they think they have found an IED,” said an Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2nd Class technician assigned to

Currently on Basilan, there are limited EOD assets available to respond to a suspected IED. IEDs are a common threat here, making this type of training imperative for these AFP forces.

The militant group Abu Sayyaf regularly uses IEDs as one of their tactics and often hides them to look like ordinary items, making detection difficult.

“Anything that looks suspicious could be an IED. There are no limits to concealment,” said the JSOTF-P EOD Task Unit OIC. “It could look like a make-up kit, a cigarette pack, or book but really it is a lethal device and it could kill you,” he said.

After the classroom portion, students were taken outside the AFP Marine base and given the chance to demonstrate what they learned using mock IEDs placed along the side of the road.

The training area was covered with high foliage and vegetation, similar to what the AFP teams can expect to encounter on patrols in the future. Simulated IEDs were hidden among trees, placed under sticks and leaves, and buried in the ground.

The students were divided up into six-man teams, searching the area for the devices. These exercises increased their detection skills and tested their knowledge on what actions to take when finding and reporting an IED.

“Without the knowledge of what to do when encountering an IED, the terrorist wins, not the AFP,” said the Explosive Ordnance 2nd Class technician. “If they follow these guidelines, it will keep them alive.”

Later, the students were given feedback on the field exercise and received certificates of completion with an increased understanding of what to do if they encounter an IED in the future.

“Our Marines and Navy Seabees now know how to recognize IEDs. Additionally, they now have some knowledge of homemade bombs being used by lawless elements. They will take this training home with them and share it with others,” said Lt. Aldrin Fancis V. Cadisal, a member of the Philippines EOD Team and commanding officer of 1GCC.

At the request of the Philippine government, JSOTF-P forces are temporary deployed to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines in defeating terrorism, partnering in humanitarian projects, performing information exchanges and conducting civil military engagement projects.

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