CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit strengthened its defenses yesterday with classes on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) presented by the Asymmetrical Warfare Group (AWG).
The AWG started off as the IED Task Force in December 2003 as a result of the increasing IED threat presenting itself in Iraq and Afghanistan. The group is designed to embed directly into military units fighting the threat of IEDs worldwide and is able to do it on short notice.
The AWG instructor whose name is being withheld at his request said “It’s great [working for AWG] because I could get a call right now and be on a bird to fly somewhere else.”
Being embedded directly with the troops gives each of the ‘instructors’ the experience and first hand knowledge to bring back to the classroom, to make the classes more effective.
“If we see a unit doing well in an area, then we will try to imbed with them and find out what it is they are doing to make things go well.”
The instructor said “We could just pass this slide show out to anybody and let them read it, but it’s our personal experiences we can tell them about that really makes all the information hit home.”
Another valuable asset the instructors first hand knowledge brings to the AWG classes is that the material is constantly being updated.
According to the instructor, the battlefield is constantly changing and insurgents tactics can change in a just a week or two. AWG does what they call 90/90. Each person spends 90 days in theater, and then 90 days teaching what they learned. More over, the lines of communication remain open at all times.
“I could make a phone call right now to one of our guys in Baghdad, Tikrit, or Ramadi and say ‘hey I’m teaching a class to Marines right now, are there any new updates?’ It’s that easy,” he said.
The instructor explained that when they come back they are teaching current techniques based on lessons learned while in Iraq, to the units that are preparing to deploy.
“That is why it is so important, we don’t preach anything, we just give recommendations, saying ‘hey, this is what has been working, and this is what hasn’t,” he said.
Although IEDs are currently the biggest threat in Iraq, it is not the only threat that AWG helps train against.
Beyond the initial threat of the actual IED, AWG also deals with everything from bomb makers to the people who want them and everyone in between, being proactive versus reactive he explained.
He said AWG teaches on everything from IEDs, to sniping, to basic marksmanship to close quarters combat (CQB).
“Everything we do is by request, we don’t come in to anybody’s house and say ‘hey you need these,’ or ‘go get these,’ if you want us to come teach, we are more than happy to come,” he said.
AWG also helps units set up and train based on situations encountered overseas. AWG has a Training Advisory Team (TAT) and an Advanced Training Advisory Team (ATAT) that will help monitor the training, give recommendations and give briefings at the end, explained the instructor.
“Ideally, we like to hit up the units six months before they deploy to help with their training, and we like to train them in relation to the exact location they will be going to. Such as, if a unit knows they are going to Ramadi we will try to set up their training to closely resemble Ramadi,” he said.
“So when the guys get there it is not brand new to them, they have at least seen a portion of it and are not just starting from scratch.
“We are not only passing out the good stuff but also the bad stuff, bottom line is that we want to bring everybody home safely,” he said.