Story and photo by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
KHAKREZ, Afghanistan — Improvised explosive devices do not discriminate; whoever walks or rolls onto them may pay the ultimate price.
The combat engineers of 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, educated the Afghan national army and the Afghan uniformed police to combat this threat by teaching them counter-IED techniques Aug. 18-25.
“We teach them how to find IEDs, avoid them, and what to do when they are on top of them to save themselves and their buddies,” said lead instructor Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Ten Eyck, 2nd Bn., 8th Inf. Reg.
The weeklong class has two phases.
“‘Death by PowerPoint’ is the first day and we teach them what exactly an IED is,” said Spc. Xanthin Luptak, 2nd Bn., 8th Inf. Reg.
Then life is brought into the teachings by getting them outside and into real-world scenarios where they can start putting to use what they’ve learned as well as learning from their mistakes, Luptak said.
“We use live detonations to make it realistic,” Ten Eyck said. “The training aids are coming straight from the Taliban. We find them and use them in class. They are real-world training aids.”
The class is not without obstacles.
“One of the challenges is the language barrier,” Ten Eyck said.
“Not only language but (we have) two different countries, two different militaries, two different lifestyles … but we overcome that by showing them, ‘hey, we do this too,’” Luptak said.
“When we get out there with them and are doing hands-on training it eliminates the language barrier,” he said.
“They are doing really good — they are like sponges soaking up the information like it’s water,” said Spc. Xavier Perez, 2nd Bn., 8th Inf. Reg.
“This is very challenging but at the same time it’s great,” Perez said. “We are helping them to achieve the main goal, which is to neutralize the enemy and continue fighting.”
The combat engineers are going through their third class of students.
“By the end of the course, the guys are finding everything and finding the indicators,” Ten Eyck said.