Fort McCoy News January 24, 2014

IED simulation training available at 181st

Public Affairs Staff

Homemade improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are a threat service members likely will encounter if they are deployed during their military career, said Jeff Sarver.

Sarver, a retired Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) first sergeant who now works as a contractor for the 181st Infantry Brigade, is sharing his expertise with military personnel who come to Fort McCoy to train. Although the training is aimed at members of the Army Reserve, Sarver said he will offer the instruction to any authorized personnel who are at Fort McCoy for training.

Photo for IED article
Jeff Sarver explains Improvised Explosive Device displays that will be used to train eligible military personnel.

Sarver has had multiple deployments to support military actions in Afghanistan and Kuwait, as well as other overseas locations.

"I use the experience I gained during my deployments to help train the Soldiers," said Sarver, who is mechanically inclined and has trained in the past as a carpenter. "I recreate simulated IEDs based on what I saw on past deployments and from intelligence updates."

Sarver's creations are on display in a building in the 1300 block. Service members who walk through the door immediately get a feel for what they might encounter during a deployment. The training is meant to complement other training Soldiers receive and can be used to support pre-mobilization training, for example.

A two- to four-hour classroom training session helps students learn how to recognize IEDs and how IEDs might be hidden under common items, such as traffic cones or even buried in the ground. Sarver said that in the classroom, training is incorporated into field training scenarios.

Insurgents will use almost anything to fabricate, disguise or deliver to emplace an IED, he said. Some common items include fire extinguishers, propane/gas tanks, motorcycles, bicycles, wheel bearings/brakes, etc.

Sarver gets many of the materials he uses for the simulated IEDs from the installation's recycling or Re-Use-It Center, since most insurgents acquire some materials from the dumps of forward operating bases in a deployed theater.

"The use of homemade IEDs isn't just for overseas deployments," he said. "Service members will face it in our hemisphere, as well."

A prime domestic example of a homemade IED is the Boston Marathon bombers, who fabricated pressure cookers into lethal bombs using directions gleaned from the Internet. Sarver said another example of IED use is in the drug wars in Columbia. Many of the homemade IEDs are detonated by remote control or victim operated when a targeted individual functions the device. IEDs can also be fabricated from unexploded ordnance (UXO), so service members need to be careful when reporting these items, he said.

Sarver said the training also teaches personnel how to identify, mark, report and secure a UXO or IED so an EOD team or other qualified personnel safely can dispose of it. This also helps prevent the UXO from falling into enemy hands and being used against them.

"Soldiers often don't react properly to IEDs or UXOs," he said. "The emplacement methods may be common to elaborate schemes. I play the role of an insurgent when we get to the field. I know how insurgents create IEDs and how they emplace the devices. I can train them on anything from UXOs, IEDs, vehicle-borne IEDs to entry control point scenarios."

Training is available for service members and other authorized personnel. For more information, call Sarver at 608-469-4127.