Thursday, December 9, 2010
The new Commandant of the Marine Corp, General James Amos, said the most effective tool so far discovered to protect Marines from improvised explosive devices was training initiated at Camp Pendleton in San Diego’s North County.
General Amos, who was appointed head of the Marine Corps less than two months ago, spoke while visiting Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, on his introduction tour.
He talked about one of the biggest threats to troops - buried IEDs - and said research has been ongoing for years to find a way to pre-detonate them. However, he said, many technical approaches, like ground penetrating radar, have been met with mixed reviews.
“But, you want to talk about something that’s not high tech but really works," he said. "The best we have are the observation skills of the Marines we’ve taught, and it began right up here at Camp Pendleton."
Amos said a program called “Combat Hunter” employed a big game hunter from Africa, animal trackers and a Chicago street cop to teach Marines how to be more observant of their surroundings. Their skills proved highly successful at identifying both buried bombs and snipers when Marines entered areas they were unfamiliar with. Arming Marines with high quality binoculars also turned out to be a good investment.
Amos added that a number of dogs trained to detect IEDs are now being deployed in Afghanistan.