Vermont Guard Works To Disarm IEDs

09/23/10 7:34AM By Steve Zind
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Sgt. 1st Class Mac Broich of St. Albans in Paktya Province
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Report From Afghanistan


(Host) For Vermonters serving in Paktya Province in Afghanistan,  improvised explosive devices, or IEDs are fact of daily life. 

In most cases the devices are found and disarmed before they can hurt or kill civilians or soldiers.  But there have been some close calls.   

VPR's Steve Zind is with the Vermont Guard in Paktya Province and has this Report From Afghanistan on the constant danger from IEDs.

(Zind)  Paktya province is made up of a patchwork of districts ranging from hostile to the less hostile.  There are Vermont Guard soldiers stationed at bases throughout the province. One district in Paktya, called Zormat presents a particular challenge.  Improvised explosive devices are almost a daily occurrence.  

Few days are routine for the Personal Security Detachment of the Vermont Guard based near the city of Gardez.

The unit often provides security for the ordinance disposal team when it's called out to disarm an IED.  This week has been a busy one for them.  On Monday they escorted the disposal team to a highway construction site in Zormat district where Afghan police reported finding an IED in the road.

According to Sgt First Class Mac Broich of St. Albans, it's not unusual to find them in this area.

(Broich) "This area, the town over there, there's been insurgent activity historically and then further down this route, we'll end up having to provide additional security for the construction crew because the deeper you get into Zormat, the more insurgent activity there is."

(Zind)  The device was a simple mortar and pressure plate and it was unclear if it had been freshly placed or was an old IED that the highway construction had unearthed. 

The next day, Broich and his unit went to the site of another IED in Zormat.  Then on Wednesday they were back in the district at a Combat Outpost named Raman Kheil. 

At Raman Kheil, First Sergeant Eric Duncan of the Vermont Guard says earlier two men were spotted planting an IED in a nearby road and a quick reaction force was sent out to stop the men who were planting it and any armed insurgents who might be there to defend them.

(Duncan)"They gained positive identification and were engaged by the security element for those IED emplacers.  They had a contact, a small arms engagement, they positively confirmed one enemy KIA and one possible enemy wounded in action."

(Zind) Now it was the personal security detachments job to once again escort the ordinance team to find the IED the men had been caught placing.  The operation took place at night.  An explosive charge was detonated where the IED was believed to be.

"Fire in the hole" (explosion)

(Zind) Afterward, just two hours later, on their way back to base, on the same road the convoy had traveled earlier, the lead vehicle struck an IED. One soldier was slightly injured. 

It wasn't the first time the unit had been hit with an IED.  And the situation is expected to remain dangerous. 

For VPR news, I'm Steve Zind at combat outpost Raman Kheil in Paktya Province, Afghanistan.

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