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CALL Newsletter 04-13
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
CAAT II Initial Impressions Report (IIR)

Chapter 3: Engineer
Topic C: EOD, UXO, Captured Enemy Ammunition Mission

Observation Synopsis

Roles and missions for the combat engineer in the AOR have been much diversified. Training for these roles has fallen into the category of on-the-job training. The combat engineer has had to function as an EOD specialist, cordon and search expert, and aviation coordination point of contact. At the present time, the mission of finding and disabling IEDs has become one of the engineer's primary counterinsurgency missions.

IEDs have become the weapon of choice for the Iraqi insurgents. The threat posed by these devices is limited only by the imagination of the enemy, the munitions available to him, and the deterrent effect of the would-be target. It is imperative that the Coalition Soldier be encouraged to "THINK TERRORIST" and attempt to undermine his opportunities by presenting a difficult target. Terrorist attacks seldom follow identical patterns; however, if an attack has been successful, it is likely to be repeated if the opportunity presents itself again.

It is not difficult for the enemy to locate the weapon of choice. Millions of tons of captured enemy ammunitions have been found throughout the country of Iraq. It is found in bunkers, buried caches, and sometimes lying out in the open. It has been impossible to secure and/or destroy all of these sites. EOD detachments are overwhelmed with work and the engineer has been pushed into the mission of securing and developing plans to destroy the captured munitions.

The Iraqi insurgent has found that it is a simple task to acquire the explosive round, secure a device for detonation, and plant it at a location that will do the most damage. Commo wire from abandoned Coalition base-camp sites has been found connected to many devices used against our own forces. It is imperative that we police up after ourselves or we become our own worst enemy.

To counter any threat, personnel need to remain vigilant, maintain a high state of situational awareness, and be able to identify combat indicators. Units able to establish a detailed knowledge of the "pattern of life" in their AOR are at an advantage, as often there are tell-tale signs that an incident is about to take place. Alert personnel may spot insurgents completing a preliminary site reconnaissance or even setting up for an incident. The key is to recognize the absence of the normal or the presence of the abnormal. Little things like windows or doors open or shut during the wrong time of day, smoke from a house chimney at the height of a summer's day, or vehicles unusually low on the suspension are all potential abnormalities that might indicate threat potential. Too often, Soldiers have seen evidence of an attack but have failed to act upon it. It is imperative that all combat indicators are reported, recorded, and acted upon. These indicators are the driving force in making us do business, not as usual, but with forethought and planning.

The desired solution is to find the IED before the attack. So many times this has not been the case and we have paid for our mistakes. The British, because of their vast experience in dealing with explosive devises, attack the problem from a forensic standpoint. When a device is found, either before or after detonation, a group of experienced professionals examines the scene of the "crime." A complete review of the situation is documented by a combined explosive exploitation cell (CEEC). Their mission is to extract each and every variable related to the origin and execution of the incident. Information collected includes real time data, location, presumed target, and casualties. In the background information, construction of the device, how it was placed, and what components were used, is logged. The goal of the investigation is to determine the source of material, how it has been utilized and what modifications have been completed that might make it different from other attacks. All information is compiled and placed in a database so that incidents can be analyzed to determine similar characteristics that might lead to source of supply or other incidentals that might prevent a similar attack in the future. This gives investigators a starting point to perhaps track down retailers that might supply a certain type of timing device or other incidental part. This forensic approach is a proactive method to take the advantage away from the insurgent.

In the EOD arena, numerous caches of captured enemy ammunition and unexploded ordnance has been discovered and secured. BCT commanders have called upon the combat engineer, division artillery, and any other type of combat or combat service support unit to help in securing these sites until destruction of the ordnance is completed. The mission for destroying these lethal caches has usually been handed off to EOD detachment. Because of the overwhelming number of caches and the many and varied types of ammunition, EOD units have been able to inspect and evaluate most sites but have been unable to keep up with the required captured ammunition (CA) destruction.

Unexpended enemy ordnance has been the material of choice for constructing IEDs, thus the sense of urgency to eliminate it as a source for weapons material. The combat engineer has been trained in explosives and demolitions. His training includes the use of Bangalore torpedoes, mine clearing line charge (MICLIC) and command and control, communications and computers (C4). How to properly use these devices to be more effective has become part of an on-the-job training program. The problem most encountered by the engineer is what type and how much explosive should be used to detonate captured ammunition. Secondly, what type and how much explosive should be used to detonate a missile versus an artillery round, and will sub ammunitions be subsequently scattered when a missile is detonated. A training manual or field manual needs to be developed that shows illustrations of different rounds and the types of explosives needed to detonate them. This manual should illustrate how the ammo should be stacked, where the demo charges should be placed, and how much and what type of explosive should be used to insure complete elimination.

Current doctrine and employment places one EOD company in general support (GS) to each division. The basic unit of action is a team operating in support of a BCT. There are not enough EOD teams to destroy/clear all UXOs and caches found in the AO in a timely manner and stay in synch with OPTEMPO. EOD companies lack C2 and span of control to synchronize operations at both division level and with all BCTs. LNOs are needed at all levels to insure coordinated activities. There is no higher headquarters at the division level to provide operational oversight and guidance, enforce division/BCT commander's intent and priorities, and ensure effective support of EOD operations.

Resolution of issues, competing priorities, etc. takes time due to location and focus of EOD battalion. In addition, EOD companies and teams lack CSS to sustain their operations. The GS role of an EOD company reduces "ownership" by the division.

The linkage between the combat engineer battalion trained in demolition operations and EOD detachments is a natural one. This should be sustained for all tactical operations and particularly in the complex urban terrain of Iraq with its recurring terrorist attack profile. The use of IEDs as a stand-off weapon system requires rapid response to avoid unnecessary hazards to civilians and the less attuned logistics convoys that must frequent the streets to acquire support resources. EOD detachments are a rare commodity and maneuver commanders typically turn to combat engineers for assistance when they are not available. Engineers and EOD detachments should work together and should attend a joint training course to develop this skill set and continue to train together in the future.

In a non-chemical environment, a chemical smoke platoon is used for static site security and a chemical reconnaissance section accompanies EOD assets on missions. The versatility of the Fox reconnaissance vehicle being both wheeled and armored with its array of chemical sensors assists in both the security and analysis of an IED or UXO incident. Every UXO is a potential chemical device. Teaming the Fox reconnaissance section with the EOD detachment helped reduce the uncertainty of the chemical threat during the disarming of these explosives.

Having the right kind of equipment to find and clear IEDs and UXOs has been a challenge faced by many engineer commanders. One engineer battalion has developed their array of equipment and personnel for main supply route (MSR) clearance work. They have effectively used two sapper squads with 1-MEERKAT IVMMDS, 1-BUFFALO, 1-MCAP Dozer/M916/Lowboy, and 2-M1114 up-armored HMMWVs. This team is able to clear rights-of-way of material in which IEDS could be stored and remove/detonate devices found. This method of operation is of great value because areas, once cleared, do not have to be secured constantly. Casual observation can then be used to determine the presence of the abnormal.

Lessons Learned

  • It is difficult to support EOD operations based on command relationships and CSS requirements.
  • There are too many UXOs and captured enemy ammunition caches for EOD to handle. Not enough time to inspect, recommend removal criteria or secure site until EOD can complete destruction.
  • Engineers support EOD with security, both for the unit and discovered undestroyed sites.
  • IEDs can be located anywhere. Watch all areas along traveled ways at least up to head level.
  • Think like a terrorist.
  • Look for changes in the normal and look for the abnormal.
  • Do not become a person of habit.
  • Vary routes and timing for vehicular movement.
  • Carefully plan convoy movements.
  • Look for patterns that might indicate the presence of an IED.
  • Combat engineers need extensive training on EOD techniques.
  • Methods for detonating different types of captured ammunition need to be published for use in the AO.
  • Unexploded ordnance is a prime device utilized in building IEDs.
  • Weapons and ammo caches are so prevalent that manuever forces do not have the time to effectively eliminate all in the initial destruction phase. Ordnance blown outside blast perimeters has to be accumulated and redetonated.
  • C4 is the favored material used to destroy captured enemy ordnance.
  • EOD units are not capable of eliminating all caches found. Combat engineers using their demolition expertise have picked up the bulk of the operation.
  • A rollup of demolition practices used by division artillery (DIVARTY), EOD units, and combat engineers needs to be developed to help derive an efficient method which maximizes the use of time and materials.

DOTMLPF Implications

Training and Doctrine: Combat engineers and EOD personnel should receive the same training necessary for the destruction of captured enemy ammo and unexploded ordnance.

Training and Doctrine: Training Manuals/Field Manuals should illustrate type, quantity, and how to attach explosive to any type of CA or UXO discovered in the AO.

Table of Supporting Observations

Observation Title CALLCOMS
File Number
Police the Battlefield 10001-32678
EOD units in the AOR 10000-26928
Counter Remote controlled improvised explosive device 10000-80028
Role of the combat engineer in phase IV operations 10000-39917
Captured enemy ammunition missionv 10000-03058
Police the Battlefield 10001-32678
EOD units in the AOR 10000-26928

Table of Contents
Chapter 3-Topic B: Combat Engineer Operations
Chapter 3-Topic D: Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) Contracts and Construction

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