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Buffalo added to 256th arsenal

By Spc Erin Robicheaux

CAMP TIGERLAND, Baghdad. (Army News Service, March 25, 2005) - A new Soldier has been initiated into the Tiger Brigade family and taken up residence with the 1088th Engineering Battalion. The Buffalo is the most recent equipment to defeat improvised explosive devices and just like its name suggests, the 23-ton machine is made of monstrous proportions, and appears to be virtually unstoppable.

It is a heavily armored vehicle designed for route clearance, giving patrols a closer look at suspected IEDs. This way it can be confirmed that an IED is present before bringing an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team onto the scene.

1st Lt. Cecil Piazza of Company A, 1088th En. Bn. has played an active role in bringing the new addition to the 256th Brigade Combat Team. He explained how the machine works.

"It (the Buffalo) is equipped with a 30-foot extension, called an Ironclaw, which is operated from within the vehicle. Once an IED is spotted by a route clearance team, it can be investigated without getting physically on the ground to look at it."

The operator uses the Ironclaw to probe debris and dirt from around the questionable device and also has an extra set of eyes mounted on top to help decipher the identity of the object. Working hand in hand with a television screen inside the vehicle, a 200X Zoom video camera has a bird's eye view of everything. According to Spc. Chris Johnson from Iowa, La., it has the capability to help the crew see clearly.

"Yesterday I was familiarizing myself with the camera, and I zoomed in on a Soldier who was working in that building over there in the motor pool."

The building in question was more than 150 yards away.

The Buffalo seats six, with the driver and operator at the front and the four remaining Soldiers behind them designated for "eyes." The crew is seated about 10 to 12 feet off of the ground and will also have access to an extra set of searchlights that are maneuvered from inside the vehicle. With the lights, the camera, and the 30- foot "arm," they will be able to search anywhere they feel there is a threat.

Piazza says he and his men received a course on the specifications and operations of the Buffalo. They were trained by the 458th Engineers and received classroom instruction, as well as on-the-job training. They were afforded the opportunity to go with the team on missions, and about 75 percent of what they learned was from actually conducting route clearance in the area of operation. Since his unit's main mission has been to escort EOD, Piazza feels that there is no one better for the job than he and his men.

"We know every single route in the brigade's area of operation," he said, "we know the trends, and we know the patterns and habits like the backs of our hands."

Based on the intelligence gathered through patrol debriefings and information sent down to the company level, the Buffalo will be tasked out to the desired patrols. This is the most recent example of the Tiger Brigade receiving the latest high-tech equipment to help battle the war on terror. The Buffalo's purpose is to keep Soldiers protected from IEDs. Piazza and the A Company Soldiers will accompany the patrolling units, and he has faith that this will prove to be a viable asset.

"In light of the activity and tragedies in December and January, the Buffalo will be a great asset and resource for the brigade to have," he said.

www.ARMY.mil OCPA Public Affairs Home

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