Working Together on Counter-IED Tactics
© 2014 FrontLine Defence (Vol 11, No 5)

Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) techniques found their origins in the early days of the 2001-2011 war in Iraq. Today, these capabilities have been refined – shifting from a defensive approach, such as protecting a convoy, to a more offensive approach, such as attacking enemy command and control. These new approaches are promising steps that contribute to unified land operations and set the stage for success.

Soldiers from 5th Canadian Division (5 Cdn Div), headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined approximately 1,200 others from the 15 nations participating in Exercise Rapid Trident 14 (Ex RT 14). They imparted the hard-won expertise gained through operational experience in recognizing and identifying IEDs along with the skills required to thwart them.

Operational planning during Exercise Rapid Trident 2014. (Photo: USAEUR)

“Varied styles of IEDs were common in Afghanistan, with some being extremely complex. Canadian soldiers gained significant experience and knowledge in countering these types of IEDs throughout their deployments to Afghanistan,” noted Major David Burbridge, the Engineering Officer selected as Commander of the Canadian Contingent for Ex RT 14. “A team of our experts provided the Ukrainians, and all other nations participating in the field exercises, with their operational experience and the knowledge they would need to identify IEDs, and the skills to react to IED threats.”

Highly skilled C-IED troops from 4 Engineer Support Regiment (4 ESR), a unit of 5 Cdn Div, provided C-IED instruction during preparatory field exercise scenarios.  This C-IED instruction was delivered in collaboration with highly-skilled Ukrainian C-IED instructors, to all soldiers deployed in the field training scenario. In addition, three staff officers from 5 Cdn Div and one from 2 Cdn Div, with experience in the operational planning process, occupied positions in the two multinational Exercise Control (EXCON) battalion and brigade headquarters, to mentor and assist their Ukranian counterparts.

Throughout the exercise, the Canadian C-IED instructors worked closely with their Ukrainian counterparts, sharing expertise. In fact, while the Ukrainians have learned a number of new C-IED techniques, Canada’s C-IED Chief Instructor (not named as per OPSEC restrictions) also gained valuable insight from a Ukrainian Master-Sergeant that may initiate a future tweaking of C-IED tactics, techniques and procedures in select areas for certain threats.

During Op Rapid Trident, Ukrainian army Major Maksym Klunnyk, instructs Ukranian cadets (left), and soldiers of U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade (right), during Traffic Control Post training. (Photo: Michael Abrams, Stars and Stripes)

Training exercises such as Op Rapid Trident help members of the Canadian Armed Forces acquire greater exposure and comfort levels when operating within a multinational and multicultural environment. “The reciprocal knowledge transfer with counterparts from other nations continues to enhance our preparedness for future multinational operations,” notes Major Burbridge.

In collaboration with the Ukrainian co-leader for the C-IED stand, the Canadian C-IED Chief Instructor planned and executed an extremely challenging training scenario. “My role involved working with my counterpart to tailor the complexity of the training scenario according to the experience level of the nations to further develop their professional growth, and challenge their existing knowledge of C-IED.”

This was reiterated by Maj Paul Hurley, Brigade Deputy G3 for the exercise, “Although levels of experience may differ, logical thought process and professionalism is very similar across all nations. The training scenarios for this year’s exercise, while complex to tailor, were expertly executed and we have received the highest praise for the very professional delivery of each scenario.”

Major Christian Gauthier goes over operational planning during Exercise Rapid Trident 2014. (Photo: USAEUR)

The first Rapid Trident exercise (2006) encouraged positive military relations between Canada and Ukraine. Since then, many other nations have joined in. Colonel Sivack, Exercise Co-Director and member of the Ukrainian Land Forces stated, “Today, as we stand on the front line in defense of democratic values, it is important for us to feel the full support of our international partners. This training exercise will help us, not only improve our professional skills and interaction mechanisms, but also contribute to the strengthening of moral unity in the face of modern threats.”

With the evolving situation in Ukraine, the importance of cooperative multinational and interoperable training exercises is increasing. “Exercises like Rapid Trident bring together soldiers from different cultures, backgrounds, and trades to learn new skills and exchange operational knowledge to increase their interoperability and military competency,” notes Maj Burbridge.

Evolving from Exercise Peace Shield, which was first conducted in 1998, Exercise Rapid Trident (renamed in 2006) is a series of annual military exercises held at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine. The multi-national exercise has been conducted 12 times since 1998, and this year, participating nations included United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Romania, Poland, Norway, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Georgia, Canada, Bulgaria, and Azerbaijan.

Helen Bobat, Army Public Affairs.
© FrontLine Magazines 2014