Detecting Explosives Important Training Mission At Camp Shelby

They're the number one killer of American troops in Iraq. Roadside bombs called IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, are sometimes crude, but often deadly.

There's a program at Camp Shelby that's preparing soldiers for this ongoing threat.

Iraqi insurgents often hide the bombs in pieces of roadside trash, alongside bridges, even beneath the carcasses of dead animals. Training at Camp Shelby teaches troops to detect and defeat those threats.

High tech devices help soldiers detect and defeat Improvised Explosive Devices. Special attention is devoted to convoys, a favorite target of Iraqi insurgent IEDs.

The unconventional nature of the roadside bombs makes it a difficult threat to anticipate and counter.

"As trainers, we have to create an environment to replicate those enemy activities in our theater immersion training. To insure we're applying the most recent enemy techniques that he's using," said General Russell Honore, commander of the First Army.

Convoy gunners take a defensive position after their leader detects a possible IED alongside the road. This kind of training is emphasized from day one and evolves as the Army receives "real combat" stories from the front lines of Iraq.

"Soldiers from 155 and 278 send us lessons directly. Within hours of hearing of a new enemy TTP or a new enemy technique, we can replicate it here," said Col. Daniel Zajac.

"This enemy is armed with an ability to improvise without consequences. We don't have that luxury in our Army," said General Honore.

The emphasis on training awareness and detection of IEDs is already paying dividends. Over the past year, although the number of roadside bombs in Iraq has increased, the number of casualties per explosion has declined by nearly half.

General Honoree calls Camp Shelby the "centerpiece" of IED training. Thanks in large part to the extensive, evolving training, US forces find three IEDs for every one that explodes.