Tech

July 9, 2012

Counter-IED teams locate roadside bombs using ‘metal detectors on steroids’

Tags:
by Sgt. Christopher McCullough
FOB Lagman, Afghanistan

Pfc. Nikko Williams, 3rd Platoon, Battle Company, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1st Squadron 14th Cavalry Regiment, uses a Minehound to search for weapons caches in an orchard outside the village of Sowkray Tangay, Afghanistan, May 7, 2012. The Minehound is a handheld detector that uses ground penetrating radar and metal detection technology which gives it the ability to detect deep buried, low metallic threats such as mines and caches.

The joint Afghan National Army-U.S. forces counter improvised explosive device team of seven soldiers walked down the dusty rural road in Shamulzai District, Afghanistan, ahead of their convoy; scanning the route with their eyes for subtle clues that might help them visually identify an improvised explosive device, or IED, hidden on the road.

When they see nothing, they verify as much by sweeping the same area with their VMR-2 Minehound and VMC-1 Gizmo metal detectors in a slow precise manner before walking ahead.

“We walked a good four and a half (kilometers) in front of the whole convoy because we had just recently been hit with an IED on the route back (to Forward Operating Base Sweeney),” said Staff Sgt. Antonio Barajas, 3rd Platoon, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. “All seven of us had Gizmos and Minehounds (and were) out there clearing the whole road so the rest of the convoy could make it back to FOB Sweeney safely.”

“The Gizmo is just an easy (to use) metal detector used to identify metal or you can switch it to minerals,” explained Barajas when asked to describe the two devices used that day.

“It’s a lot like the metal detectors you see men on the beach with, but on steroids,” said Pfc. Niko Williams, also from 3rd Platoon, 5-20 Infantry, Task Force 1-14 Cavalry.

SSgt. Anthony Shaw (left), 787th Ordnance Company, 3rd Ordnance Battalion, uses a VMR-2 MineHound to search for possible secondary improvised explosive devices following an earlier incident. The MineHound’s ground penetrating radar allows operators to locate IEDs that may otherwise not be found by the naked eye.

The use of such gadgetry has been a blessing to both ANA and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan. For Barajas and his team, the MineHound’s ground penetrating radar enabled them to discover a secondary IED earlier in the day, prior to the IED strike on their convoy. That IED was only a hundred meters forward of the one that hit them. Without the MineHound, there stood a chance Barajas’ team may have missed that roadside bomb.

The Minehound and Gizmo metal detectors are “the current state-of-the-art technology dual sensor detectors capable of detecting command wires, non-metallic and low-metallic signature IEDs using ground penetrating radar,” according their product description online. “In addition to GPR, the Minehound uses Vallon’s advanced metal detector sensor, which is the same sensor used in Vallon’s VMC-1 Gizmo detector to find both metallic and non-metallic threats.”

The Vallon Company claims to have more than 2,000 Minehound detectors currently in use in Afghanistan. They, along with the Gizmo, have become an invaluable item in finding IEDs and weapons caches before they can be used against ANA or ISAF forces.

The use of the Minehound and Gizmo detectors started with combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal personnel, but they are now issued to non-EOD units such as Battle Company, 5-20 Infantry, to aid in the discovery of IEDs and weapons caches.

Since the onset of the Afghan War in 2001, homemade bombs have increasingly become the insurgent’s weapon of choice in Afghanistan and certainly their most effective weapon. Almost 60 percent of all coalition forces wounded or killed in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001 have been due to IEDs, according to a May 2011 report from the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, a U.S. Department of Defense organization located in Washington D.C.

To complicate matters, insurgents in Afghanistan have been increasingly constructing IEDs to circumvent simple metal detectors. Some IEDs contain rudimentary materials such as wooden boards, foam rubber, and plastic containers. The finished product contains very little metal making it difficult for a traditional metal detector to pick up, but not for the Minehound with its ground penetrating radar.

SSgt. Anthony Shaw (left), 787th Ordnance Company, 3rd Ordnance Battalion, uses a VMR-2 MineHound to search for possible secondary improvised explosive devices following an earlier incident. The MineHound’s ground penetrating radar allows operators to locate IEDs that may otherwise not be found by the naked eye.

Increasingly compact, collapsible, light-weight metal detectors, such as the MineHound and Gizmo, are finding IEDs with more frequency than ever before, all of which has reduced the number of injuries or deaths to Afghan civilians, ANA and ISAF troops. In the hands of an infantry platoon, or similar-type unit, they are also being used to find weapons caches which often provide the insurgency with ample arms to fight for weeks or months.

“In the orchards (the Minehound and Gizmo are) good because that’s where they often hide the caches,” said Barajas. “So far we’ve found two caches with the Gizmo and Minehounds, and also with the ANA helping us out with their resources.”

Without doubt, improved technological devices such as the VMR-2 Minehound and VMC-1 Gizmo metal detectors are helping coalition troops across Afghanistan.

“It helps a lot when we’re in the orchards or going through the towns when we use the Gizmos and Minehounds because it also allows if something does get missed by sight it will pick it up,” said Williams. “That’s what makes the Gizmo and Mine Hound so important,” said Williams. “It helps make sure people are not being taken out of the fight … (that) you’re keeping them in,” said Williams.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 24, 2015

News: More than $1 billion in U.S. emergency reconstruction aid goes missing in Afghanistan - A total of $1.3 billion that the Pentagon shipped to its force commanders in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2014 for the most critical reconstruction projects can’t be accounted for by the Defense Department, 60 percent of all such spending under an...
 
 

News Briefs April 24, 2015

German defense minister: widely used rifle has no future A widely used assault rifle has “no future” with the German military in its current form, Germany’s defense minister said April 22, escalating a dispute over the weapon’s alleged shortcomings. Ursula von der Leyen said last month that a study showed the G36 rifle has a...
 
 
Army photograph

Composites key to tougher, lighter armaments

Army photograph XM-360 test firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in 2007, is shown. The Army is on the cusp of revolutionizing materials that go into armament construction, making for stronger, lighter and more durable weapo...
 

 

Northrop Grumman signs long-term agreement with Raytheon

Northrop Grumman has entered a long-term agreement with Raytheon to supply its LN-200 Inertial Measurement Unit for Raytheon optical targeting systems. The long-term agreement with Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business extends through 2018. The LN-200 provides camera stabilization on optical targeting systems that conduct long-range surveillance and target acquisition for various...
 
 

NTTR supports first F-35B integration into USMC’s weapons school exercise

The Nevada Test and Training Range was part of history April 21, when four U.S. Marine Corps-assigned F-35B Lightning IIs participated in its first Marine Corps’ Final Exercise of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course on the NTTR’s ranges. The Final Exercise, or FINEX, is the capstone event to the U.S. Marine Corps Marine Aviation...
 
 
AAR-Textron

AAR awarded new contract from Bell Helicopter Textron to support T64 engines

AAR announced April 22 that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. awarded its Defense Systems & Logistics business unit a contract providing warehouse and logistics services in support of upgrading T64 engines for the Bell V-280 Val...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>