Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Tennessee Engineers Search for Explosive Devices, Save Lives

Magazine article Army Reserve Magazine

Tennessee Engineers Search for Explosive Devices, Save Lives

Article excerpt

BAQUBAH, Iraq - In an effort to make Iraqi roads safer for fellow Soldiers, an Army Reserve company of combat engineers patrol selected roads near Baqubah, Iraq, searching for "trouble."

Soldiers from Company A, 467th Engineer Battalion, Memphis, Tenn., recently took over operations from the 141st Engineer Battalion, North Dakota National Guard, at Forward Operating Base Warhorse, continuing the mission known as Operation Trailblazer.

Their mission is focused on searching pre-determined supply routes in the Baqubah area for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted by insurgents.

"Our job is to go out and look for trouble in the form of IEDs planted near the roadside" said SFC Dallas Bryan, combat engineer, Company A, 467th Engineer Battalion.

With teams of 18 Soldiers or more, the "Trailblazers" set out on convoys of several supporting vehicles and one Buffalo, scouring the roadside for signs of terrorist activity.

The Buffalo, a ground mine detection system, uses a hydraulic arm to sift through trash piles or probe areas where IEDs may be hidden.

"Between a few rotating teams, we search the roads several times a day looking for conspicuous things that might be used to conceal explosives, such as piles of trash, containers, or anything that looks like it's out of the ordinary, such as freshly patched potholes in the road or new road signs close to the road's edge," Bryan said.

When a team finds a suspicious looking site, Bryan said they close off the road and send in the Buffalo. If an IED is confirmed, the unit marks the coordinates and calls for the explosive ordinance disposal unit to neutralize the device.

"We do not detonate the device; that's explosive ordnance disposal's job," he added.

Since the unit has taken over, they have been credited with finding three explosive devices in the first few days of patrols.

"The more stuff (explosives) we find, the less that's out there with the intent to kill an American Soldier," said SGT Michael Cochran, gunner, 467th Engineer Battalion. …

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