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Atterbury gets cost-effective training with 'recycled' improvised explosive devices

Wed, 04/10/2013 - 2:17pm
U.S. Army

EDINBURGH, Ind. (April 9, 2013) -- Bottled water companies have reduced the amount of plastic in packaging. The fashion world has begun using items as obscure as egg shells to make clothing, and at Atterbury-Muscatatuck, recyclable materials are being turned into improvised explosive device training aids.

The Counter improvised explosive device, or IED, Integration Cell, also called CI2C, here is working with materials provided by the solid waste recycling facility to create mock IEDs for use in training mobilizing Soldiers for deployment.

An IED is a common weapon used by insurgents, and can be made from almost anything. According to an infographic released by the Department of Defense in 2012, IEDs have killed more than 800 American troops and wounded roughly 10,200 since 2008.

Those statistics are one reason why Larry Sparks, a training integrator with the CI2C, approached Walt Anderson, manager of the solid waste recycling facility, about access to low-cost materials to help develop training aids.

"We went over there, introduced ourselves, advised them on what we do and asked if we could utilize his resources so that we could just turn right around and use it to train Soldiers," Sparks said. "He pretty much just lets us in there to take whatever we want as long as we use it to train Soldiers, and he knows eventually he'll get it back."

The CI2C team uses electrical and electronic material and equipment from the solid waste recycling facility to fabricate devices that appear to be IEDs, so that Soldiers can then use those devices to train on IED detection, for instance.

Sparks explains the process they go through when preparing to train a unit.

"It goes first with doing the research and finding out where a specific unit is going to, that specific operational area, and then we'll find out what type of techniques or tactics that they'll be using and then we'll take that information and be able to know what to look for," Sparks said. "From there we can construct the devices."

Recycling materials to create IEDs provides immersion-style training to Soldiers, but the cost savings is pretty significant as well. Jason Litz, another training integrator with CI2C, estimates the cost savings range from $15,000 to $20,000 for IED material alone.

Many programs across post, some maybe not as well-funded, come to the recycling center looking for items such as paint, wood and sometimes metal for projects, said Anderson. The biggest thing they do at the facility is cost avoidance, he continued.

"We'll turn the trash into treasure or trash into scrap and in some cases, yeah, we just have to turn trash into trash, but this is a matter of getting things upcycled or reused. It's a beautiful thing. He's doing exactly what the insurgents do overseas," said Anderson, referring to Sparks.

Sparks believes the IED threat isn't going to go away. When asked about the benefit this program presents, Sparks had a simple and truthful answer. "Bottom line, it saves lives."

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