Soldiers encounter a number of dangers while deployed. One of the greatest threats is improvised explosive devices, often buried underneath the soil and visually undetectable. The Counter Improvised Explosive Device Integration Cell, or CI2C, participated in a “Train the Trainer” course on the use of new equipment May 14-18 to increase soldier survivability in theater. The CI2C will be able to train Fort Polk soldiers on the equipment, but first, they had to learn it themselves.


Soldiers encounter a number of dangers while deployed. One of the greatest threats is improvised explosive devices, often buried underneath the soil and visually undetectable. The Counter Improvised Explosive Device Integration Cell, or CI2C, participated in a “Train the Trainer” course on the use of new equipment May 14-18 to increase soldier survivability in theater. The CI2C will be able to train Fort Polk soldiers on the equipment, but first, they had to learn it themselves.
The VMR-2, or Minehound detector, is a dual sensor detector that searches for IEDs buried under the soil.
At a cost of $25,000, the equipment combines metal detector capabilities with ground penetrating radar; a type of sonar that penetrates the soil then bounces off the IED, returning the signal to the device. The combined capabilities allow soldiers to find IEDs, whether or not they contain traces of metal.
“With the shift toward dismounted operations in Afghanistan over the last year to year and a half, as soldiers get out of their vehicles, they have to be able to move in a patrol in a dismounted method," said Jim Hartman, part of Booz Allen Hamilton, which oversees the Fort Polk CI2C. "The enemy has shifted more toward IEDs meant for personnel, with low metallic signatures — making them out of wood or plastic. Those soldiers need to use low metallic handheld detectors in order to find items before (the IEDs) blow up on them.”
The Minehound uses a variety of settings, or parameters, that can be configured based on soil types to power through water, snow, gravel and vegetation.
The parameters can also be adjusted to avoid things deeper underground that interfere with detection, such as a water table or bedrock, said Lawrence Primus, a trainer specializing in handheld initiatives for the communications command of Engineering Professional Services.
Every dismounted platoon on patrol in Afghanistan will have the handheld detectors, Hartman said.
“It’s not just for counter IED (platoons), it’s for every single person that’s going out there,” he said.
The Minehound training, held one day in a classroom and four days on the Minehound range, helps soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade familiarize themselves with the equipment.
“Overall, it’s a hands-on portion," said Tracy Jackson, the search and site exploitation instructor for CI2C. "In the lanes, soldiers will know exactly where some items are, which helps them get a feel for the sounds and indicators. Then, they’ll go to another lane where they don’t know where the items are, so it tests their skills and validates what they’ve learned.”
The Minehound training area consists of four lanes — outlined with polyvinyl chloride piping, a material that doesn’t interfere with the device’s metal detector — with various IEDs buried under the soil. The piping is laid out at a distance of one meter to help students learn to move the detector at a speed of one meter per second.
The first lane is lined with signs, designating what IEDs are underground and where. It helps soldiers get a feel for the equipment, learn the different sound indicators of the GPR and metal detector and understand how all components work together.
The other three lanes are for practical application. soldiers won’t know where IEDs are hidden, thus testing their skill with the equipment.
For the CI2C trainers, their knowledge must go further. They not only learn about the equipment and how to use it, but they must learn how to teach soldiers to use the detectors.
Mobile training team instructors Lawrence Primus, Rene Pagan and Arthur Carey, were on hand to assist the trainers over the weeklong exercise. They taught the class based on three phases: Crawl, walk and run.
The crawl portion acts as an introduction to the equipment within a classroom, consisting of PowerPoint presentations, videos and familiarization with the detector and the light and sound indicators.
The walk phase is an introduction to the detector. Students learn to physically use the equipment. They pair their knowledge of the light and sound indicators’ functions, while scanning over IEDs buried in the ground.
The run portion is the practical application. Students don’t know where devices are hidden, requiring them to use the knowledge from other phases. By this time, they know how the equipment works, so they put what they’ve learned to the test.
Additional items are added to the soil to throw off detection — wood pieces, spent brass casings and rocks, Jackson said. These items test how soldiers hear the device’s different sounds.
“Things are going well with the training," Primus said. "This is a sharp group of individuals. They’re very cohesive and work well together, which makes them easier to train. The set-up they have here is really great for this type of training."
Having this type of training at Fort Polk is a benefit to the soldiers stationed here, said Ted Sutton, the training integrator and team leader for CI2C.
“The benefit of building it here at Fort Polk and getting it into home station, is the unit can plan more iterations, or opportunity for the training of soldiers, rather than doing it late in their training cycle at another location," he said. "Units can start planning sessions over a long period of time and getting more soldiers trained."
The Minehound lane came to fruition through a variety of military and civilian entities.
The Army Research Lab funded $30,000 for materials, the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security provided range maintenance and labor and the Fort Polk G-3 office provided engineer support, said John Bradford, G-3 engineer. But none of that would have been possible without approval from the United States Forestry Service for use of their land.
The initial design was completed between September and October 2011. Site preparation and discussion with the United States Forestry Service for the use of the land followed. In January 2012, engineers continued the site preparation. Then, all they needed was materials, approval of the design, good weather and operating equipment.
CI2C ensures soldiers are properly trained on the use and deployment of equipment designed to protect soldiers from IEDs.