BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Most Airmen can mentally rewind to the Combat Airman Skills Training course and recall the frustration and apprehension of not being able to locate all the improvised-explosive devices set out in the training lanes.
Because the training is so realistic, at first, most Airmen trigger the training IEDs before spotting them. After this has occurred a few times, many Airmen start to become exasperated with the training and ask, "Why bother? I'm not going to see an IED anyway so why strain myself?" All the training, CAST instructors hoped would stick, became sixth sense for several Airmen from the 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron assigned as Reapers crew members near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, June 18.
The crew members were on a patrol when something out of the ordinary caught their attention. A flashlight visual from one of the members revealed an object near their mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle Without hesitation, they secured the area, maintaining a perimeter around the object to prevent any harm to themselves and others. Then they immediately alerted explosive ordnance disposal via their 9-line IED/unexploded ordnance request that there was a suspicious device in their area of responsibility. EOD later reported the partially buried object was an IED weighing approximately 150 pounds. Because of the Reapers crews actions, an IED designed to harm anyone who detonated it was taken out of commission. "The 755th ESFS Reapers is comprised predominantly of security forces Airmen, many from the 820th Base Defense Group," said Capt Michael Alvord, 755th ESFS Reapers operations officer. "However, IED's don't just target battlefield Airmen personnel, they target anyone and everyone. Therefore, counter-IED training is critical for all personnel. Who knows, it could be you that identifies the IED and saves lives." Describing their thought processes, while looking for IEDs, the cops said staying focused and alert during patrols is key. "My thought process is - I want to go home," came one answer for a security forces Airman. "Stay alive!" was another response from some of the crew members during a recent 455th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs interview. What about CAST training? What would these Airmen have to tell to others currently going through the course who might be frustrated or find it cumbersome? "I would tell them to take the training seriously," a security forces Airman said. "To pay attention, to do their job right and don't get lackadaisical."