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 August 28, 2015

Business: Rafale, Mistral on agenda for Le Drian in Malaysia, India¬†– French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit Malaysia Aug. 30, with talks expected to cover the Rafale fighter jet and Mistral helicopter carrier, website La Tribune reported. U.S. Army to choose new landing craft next year¬†– In line with the Pentagon’s...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2015

Boeing plans to lay off some Southern California workers Boeing has announced that it plans to lay off employees at its Southern California-based satellite division. The Los Angeles Times reports that the aerospace giant said Aug. 25 that it will lay off as many as several hundred employees at the El Segundo factory. Boeing says...
 
 

Special tactics Airmen killed in hostile incident

Two special tactics airmen, who were deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26. Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and SSgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were at a vehicle checkpoint when two individuals wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms opened fire on them. NATO service members...
 

 

Hurricane Hunters to fly Tropical Storm Erika

The Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are operating out of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., flying their state-of-the-art WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika in support of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron flew four missions into the tropical storm from their deployed location at St. Croix in the...
 
 
LM-MUOS

U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin ready to launch MUOS-4 Aug. 31

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the fourth Mobile User Objective System secure communications satellite, MUOS-4, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Aug. 31 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V...
 
 

Pentagon probing alleged distorting of war intelligence

The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating an allegation that the military command overseeing the anti-Islamic State campaign distorted or altered intelligence assessments to exaggerate progress against the militant group, a defense official said Aug. 26. The official was not authorized to discuss the probe publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity. The investigation was...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>