MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. --
Airmen say “jarhead,” Marines say “flyboy,” but despite the playful name-calling, members of the two military services worked well together at 8,000 feet while conducting a cordon and search exercise at the Mountain Warfare Training Center Oct. 6, 2010.
The high altitude hike helped prepare the war fighters for upcoming deployments to Afghanistan and future operations as a combined fighting force.
The Marines and sailors with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, along with four airmen from various explosive ordnance disposal units, worked together with Afghan role players to successfully diffuse a roadside improvised explosive device.
“This is good for us,” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Christian Mckay, an EOD craftsman with the 48th EOD. “When we are deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, we are out there working with a lot of different services.”
After a two-kilometer hike up steep terrain, the patrol came to a small simulated village on the crest of a hill.
Second Lt. Jeremy Dittmer, the commander of 3rd Platoon, Company C, along with Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Laney, an explosive ordnance craftsman with 9th EOD, sat with the town’s Afghan elders, engaging in a common practice for U.S. military members deployed overseas.
“Marines have always been trained to kill the enemy,” Dittmer said. “But in this kind of environment, with that kind of attitude, the enemy is ourselves, which makes this a great opportunity to work on our people skills.”
Dittmer explained the capabilities of U.S. medical assistance and supplies, and then offered the use of the medical staff to help the villagers.
Through the use of an interpreter, the elders, now friendly and comfortable with their guests, informed the patrol of a possible IED on the edge of town.
Next it was Laney’s turn to do the talking, as he asked specific questions relating to the whereabouts and size of the threat.
Using the intelligence provided by the elders, Marines and sailors took up security positions while the Air Force EOD team probed for explosives using a metal detector and eyes trained to spot bomb materials.
It wasn’t long before a few containers, wired together and hidden behind a large boulder, were discovered mere feet from the road. After setting up the proper perimeter, a notional charge was placed by the IED for proper disposal.
After the simulation was complete, Air Force Senior Airman Ryan Hoagland reflected on the joint exercise.
“This is all really new to me, because I’ve never deployed,” he said. “Working with the Marines and seeing how they operate was a major takeaway.”