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U.S. and South Korean Forces Conduct Anti-IED Training Near Seoul

South Korea and U.S. train in Pyeongtaek for IED removal
Mine detectors deployed near Seoul

U.S. and South Korean forces have gathered near Bubal Station in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. The purpose of this assembly is to conduct training for the removal of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) as a part of their patriotic military exercises. About 30 members, including soldiers from the 7th Engineer Brigade under the 7th Division of the South Korean Army and the Explosive Hazard Clearance Team (EHCT) of the U.S. Army, have come together. Various equipment has also been mobilized. The U.S. Army deployed unmanned mine clearance equipment and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. MRAPs are special vehicles with V-shaped bottoms to counter mines and IEDs. The V-shape helps to dissipate the shock of a mine explosion directly under the vehicle. MRAPs have been known to significantly reduce U.S. military casualties from mines and IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.


IEDs and Global Challenges

IEDs are weapons made by attaching various remote devices or detonators to conventional explosives such as shells, bombs, or gasoline. They are hard to detect when placed in roadside markers, trash cans, plastic bottles, or even dead dogs.

One of the challenges facing the Israeli forces, currently at war with Hamas, is the IEDs. In June, an Israeli military vehicle was hit by an IED during an operation in a refugee camp in Jenin, resulting in casualties. This incident led to hardliners within the Israeli coalition government calling for a strong response.

The U.S. military has also struggled with IEDs. In the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the U.S. and allied forces were most troubled not by advanced weapons but by IEDs. Secretary Austin recently said on ABC’s Sunday morning show This Week that “urban combat is extremely difficult” and predicted that “Israel will not be able to advance easily due to numerous IEDs.”

U.S. Military Deploys MRAPs, Mine Clearance Robots

The mission of this exercise is to find and remove three simulated IEDs outside and inside the civilian-used Bubal Station. Soldiers from the 7th Engineer Brigade under the 7th Division of the Army began searching the outskirts of the subway station using mine detection and removal devices. Following them, U.S. soldiers meticulously inspected areas such as bicycle storage boxes. Their expressions were severe, as they were aware of the destructive power of IEDs from overseas deployments.

Suddenly, the soldiers started running. They had discovered an IED on the opposite side. Four U.S. soldiers armed with shields advanced, followed by a line of U.S. and South Korean soldiers. A bomb disposal robot was deployed as the explosives installed inside a trash can could not be opened.

The robot carried the trash can about 30m (98 feet) from the subway station for safety. The U.S. and South Korean soldiers re-entered the station. They found a small cardboard box under a chair where civilians sit, but it was difficult to dismantle the completely sealed box. It was also difficult to insert an endoscope into the box. A South Korean soldier taped the box to the floor and made a hole to prevent it from shaking. They inserted an endoscope and confirmed the explosives. Then, they started spraying water on the cardboard box. They carefully cut the dampened area with a knife. After a 15-minute struggle, the soldier radioed in.

“Dismantling complete.”


Quickly Finding and Dismantling IEDs Throughout the Subway

The U.S. and South Korean soldiers then cautiously approached the subway platform. They found a bag discarded near the platform. The soldiers, working in pairs with shields, approached the bag. A South Korean soldier reached out between the shields and confirmed that the bag contained TNT, a type of bomb. To confirm the presence of TNT, they repeatedly tapped the bag’s surface with a makeshift test sticker. It was TNT. The U.S. and South Korean soldiers immediately radioed in and retreated from the station. Again, a mine clearance robot was deployed. The robot, moving from the end of the platform, carried the bag out of the station.

The five-day U.S.-South Korea IED detection and response training concluded in this manner. After the training, the U.S. and South Korean soldiers chanted “We Go Together” outside the station. Team Leader Choi Bong-hyun of the 7th Engineer Brigade said, “This training was an opportunity to enhance the expertise of our team members and a valuable time to share know-how between the U.S. and South Korea.” Lieutenant Tichenor John, the Passage Clearance Platoon Leader of the 11th Engineer Battalion of the U.S. Forces Korea, said, “The U.S. and South Korean militaries were able to understand each other more deeply by cooperating to create and train for a single operation in various environments.”

By. Yang Nak Gyu

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