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Tactical Site Exploitation Training
By Sgt Belynda Faulkner 177th Armored Brigade
Sep 26, 2010 - 3:21:53 PM
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Blackanthem Military News
Pfc. Cody Farr, 832nd Engineer Company, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, clears an area with the Minelab F3 Series Mine Detector. Training on the F3 mine detector is conducted by the 2-305th Infantry Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., as part of the Tactical Site Exploitation training at Camp Shelby. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Belynda Faulkner)
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – The 2-305th Regiment Field Artillery Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., uses high tech devices to train units deploying to combat. Tactical Site Exploitation Training demonstrates the proper techniques for identifying, handling, and gathering items such as weapons, explosive materials and devices, as well as documents that may have intelligence value.

In a four-day training event, Soldiers cover mine detection and, outdoor area clearing, in addition to building, vehicle and personnel searches. Unlike most training at CSJFTC, TSE training is offered but not mandatory; the command team of a mobilized unit will decide if this training will benefit the mission.

The 2-305th battalion acquired the tools necessary to teach TSE from Sgt. Maj. Mark Swindells of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization from the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif. Swindells provided the Minelab F3 series mine detector in addition to comprehensive TSE sets which include evidence handling kits, fiber optic scopes, cameras, metal detection wands and personal GPS locators.

Lighter than its predecessors, the Minelab F3 is capable of operating in a wide range of temperatures.  This mine detector produces an audible tone when ferrous metals are detected; ear phones are included for noise sensitive operations.

The officer in charge of the TSE training, Capt. Nicholas Loring, 2-305th, Field Artillery Battalion, is impressed with the features of the F3 that make it easier to operate. “The calibration process is easy and can be accomplished in less than 120 seconds.”

“The F3 has two distinct levels of sensitivity,” Loring continued.  “The first setting will allow for the detection of all metal; the second setting is for maximum depth and a reduced sensitivity that will ignore small metal fragments on the surface but detect larger objects such as weapon caches below ground.” 

Pfc. Cody Farr, 832nd Engineer Company, 2nd Brigade, 34th   Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, thought the F3 was easy to use.  “It’s simple - you can look at the end cap and tell what sensitivity it is set to, and I was able to get it calibrated right away.” Farr also said “it is simple enough that anyone who is given this training should be able to show other Soldiers how to use it.”

In addition to using the F3 mine detector, Soldiers are also taught how to properly search a house, civilians and vehicles. When searching the home of a civilian it is imperative that Soldiers are taught not only the proper search techniques, but also proper customs and courtesies.

Civilian role players make the training more realistic. Edward McDill and his wife Lynda have been assisting with such realistic training for the past six years. “We have seen many changes in the training,” said McDill.  “Not that long ago, when we would get into a scenario where the Soldiers should search us, they would most often just wave Lynda through the search area. With the increased incidents of females wearing body-borne improvised explosive devices, it’s important they learn to properly search them without creating a situation that would be considered insulting in a foreign culture.”                          
   
To make this possible the TSE training incorporates a non-contact person search, which includes asking and demonstrating certain techniques to the individual. By pulling their clothing tight around areas of their body it is possible to check for foreign objects without touching the individual. Learning this search technique properly is not only important for discovering body-borne IED’s but also in showing the proper respect in cultures where it is considered offensive to touch females.
   
Pvt. Cassandra Bridges with the 2nd Brigade, 34th   Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, admits the training is more than she anticipated. “It’s more involved than I expected, the customs are so different, and it is so important that we understand that something that would not matter to us could be considered very insulting to a foreign culture, and we need to understand and respect that.”
   
The cornerstone of the training lane is a specially designed search house. The house at Camp Shelby includes hidden compartments, moveable walls, and a tunnel system under the building.
   
Maj. Donald Fuller of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 177th Armored Brigade is a member of the IED defeat team that modified the original design and made the project happen on Camp Shelby. “We took the best ideas from the other search houses at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif.,” said Fuller.  “Then we made modifications that will challenge Soldiers to use the skills they have learned.  It is important that Soldiers learn to notice things that are out of place.”
 
Fuller describes some of the non-obvious indicators:  “An air condition vent when there is no central air unit, a wall that is over two feet thick, and wires attached to pieces of furniture. Soldiers also learn to look things over and under before they touch or try to move the object.”

Many of the tools in the TSE kits can be used for searching such homes or buildings. The fiber optic lights make it possible to see under or behind objects, such a dressers or beds, without moving an object that could possibly have an explosive device attached to it. Also included are a camera for photographing objects of interest, and a chemical detection kit to test for any explosive residue on surfaces.

In addition, Soldiers are taught to use the Hand-held Interagency Identity Detection Equipment. This lightweight mobile device is used in field operations to enroll or authenticate an individual’s true identity by the use of biometrics.

Although American service members may not actually conduct detailed searches of civilian residences overseas, it is a valuable skill for embedded training units. These are the units that will be working and training with Afghan or Iraqi security forces. 

“The training is valuable to Soldiers so that they can teach not only members of their own teams but also their foreign counterparts,” said Col. Bill Prior, commander of the 177th Armored Brigade.  “The primary counter-insurgency objective is to enable local institutions.  Our Soldiers’ ability to teach these critical search techniques to local security forces is at least as important as our ability to do it ourselves and could be vital to our counter-insurgency mission.”                                                   

The 177th Armored Brigade trains, coaches and mentors Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors in support of our nation’s overseas contingency operations. The majority of the work at the 177th is with mobilized Army Reserve component forces, although they also train active forces. The brigade is stationed at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center at Camp Shelby, Miss., which is the largest and most active mobilization training center in the U. S Army. 

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 
Sgt. Harold Dudley, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, conducts a non-contact person search with Edward McDill, a civilian role player, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. This search procedure training is conducted by the 2-305th, Infantry Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., as part of the Tactical Site Exploitation training at Camp Shelby. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt Belynda Faulkner)
Pvt. Cassandra Bridges, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, conducts a non-contact person search with Lynda McDill, a civilian role player, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. This search procedure training is conducted by the 2-305th, Infantry Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., as part of the Tactical Site Exploitation training at Camp Shelby. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Belynda Faulkner)

 
Staff Sgt. Mathew Hunt, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, uses the Hand-held Interagency Identity Detection system to positively identify Edward McDill, a civilian role player, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. Use of the HIIDE system is taught by the 2-305th Infantry Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., as part of the Tactical Site Exploitation training at Camp Shelby. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Belynda Faulkner)
Sgt. 1st Class Jarvis Deal, 2-305th Infantry Battalion, 177th Armored Brigade, Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Camp Shelby, Miss., demonstrates different components of a Tactical Site Exploitation kit. These kits include evidence handling kits, fiber optic scopes, cameras, metal detection wands and personal GPS locators. The proper uses of the TSE kits are taught as part of the Tactical Site Exploitation training at Camp Shelby, Miss. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt Belynda Faulkner)


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