UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
Field Medical Training Battalion
Improvised Explosive Devices
an operational environment with an IED threat, visually identify IEDs
per the references. (FMST-FP-1206)
an operational environment, react to an IED by conducting immediate actions per
the references. (FMST-FP-1225)
ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES
the aid of references, describe the components of an IED, per the
the aid of references, identify IED initiation methods, per the references.
the aid of references, given a scenario involving a known IED threat, visually
identify indicators of ground emplaced IEDs, per the references.
the aid of references, identify the characteristics of vehicles used in Vehicle
Borne IED (VBIED) and Suicide Vehicle Borne IED (SVBIED) attacks, per the
the aid of references, describe the physical characteristics of a SVBIED driver,
per the references. (FMST-FP-1206e)
the aid of references, describe the common characteristics of a potential
suicide bomber attack, per the references. (FMST-FP-1206f)
the aid of references, identify common employment techniques of IEDs, per the
the aid of references, describe mitigating tactics that can be employed in an
IED environment, per the references. (FMST-FP-1206h)
the aid of references, identify non-lethal deterrents that can be employed in an
IED environment, per the references. (FMST-FP-1206i)
the aid of references, state the procedures for conducting 5 to 25 meter checks,
per the references. (FMST-FP-1225a)
the aid of references, given a list of the 5 C's and their definitions, match
each step to the correct definition, per the references. (FMST-FP-1225b)
an operational environment containing IEDs, React to an IED detonation, per the
Improvised explosive devices (IED’s) account for the
majority of wounded and killed soldiers in combat situations. As an
emergency provider you are one thousand times more likely to encounter
injury from conventional explosives than from a chemical, biological, or
nuclear attack. It is important to consider some basic tactics,
techniques, and procedures (TTP’s). Understanding the TTP’s will allow
you to survive in an IED environment.
Knowing what to look for and where to look is a starting point.
Understanding how to move, as part of a patrol or resupply element, for example,
will give you and edge on the battlefield. It is important to remember that
IEDs are not the enemy. The people using the IEDs are the enemy. They can be
defeated by being observant and looking for IED indicators.
IEDs are improvised devices that are designed to cause
death or injury. They are otherwise known as homemade bombs. IEDs can
be produced in varying sizes and can have different types of containers,
function, and delivery methods. IEDs become more difficult to detect
and protect against as the enemy becomes more sophisticated.
Improvised Explosive Devices
are those devices that are placed or fabricated in an improvised manner
incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary
chemicals and designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract.
They may incorporate military weapons, but are normally devised from
Booby Traps are explosive or
non-explosive devices or other materials, deliberately placed to cause
casualties when an apparently harmless object is disturbed or a normally safe
act is performed.
Mines are explosives or materials,
normally encased, designed to destroy or damage ground vehicles, boats, or
aircraft, or designed to wound, kill, or otherwise incapacitate personnel. They
may be detonated by the actions of its victims, by the passage of time, or by
COMPONENTS OF AN IED
IED’s can vary widely in shape and form. IEDs share a
common set of components that consist of the casing, initiating system,
and main charge.
Casings can range in size from a
cigarette pack to a large truck or airplane. The container is used to help hide
the IED and to possibly provide fragmentation. Countless containers have been
used as casings, including soda cans, animal carcasses, plastic bags, and vests
or satchels for suicide bombers.
Initiating Systems cause the main
charge to function. It can be a simple hard wire (for command detonation) or a
radio frequency (RF) device, such as a cell phone or a toy car remote control.
The initiator almost always includes a blasting cap and batteries as a power
source for the detonator. Any type of battery can be used (9-volt, AA, or car
batteries). Initiating systems are triggered in three ways.
Time - Timed IEDs are designed to
function after a preset delay, allowing the enemy to make his escape or to
target military forces which have created a pattern.
Command - Command-initiated IEDs are
a common method of employment and allow the enemy to choose the optimal moment
of initiation. They are normally used against targets that are in transit, or
where a routine pattern has been established. The most common types of
command-initiated methods are with command wires or radio-controlled devices,
such as cordless telephones and remote car openers.
Victim - A victim-actuated IED is
initiated by the actions of its victim(s). There are various types of
initiation devices, to include pull or trip, pressure, pressure release,
movement-sensitive, light-sensitive, proximity, and electronic switches.
Explosive main charges are the most commonly
encountered in theater. Common explosives used are military munitions, usually
122mm or greater. These items are the easiest to use and provide a ready-made
fragmentation effect and multiple main charges together over long or short
distances for simultaneous detonation. Common hardware, such as ball bearings,
bolts, nuts, or nails can be used to enhance the fragmentation. Propane tanks,
fuel cans, and battery acid can and have been added to IEDs to propagate their
blast and thermal effects.
Chemical - A chemical IED is a main
charge with a chemical payload in conjunction with an explosive payload.
Chemical IEDs are fabricated to kill or incapacitate victims with a chemical,
rather than explosive, effect. Some indicators for chemical IEDs are smaller
blasts, odor, gas cloud, and liquid on or near the suspected IED.
There are many ways to detect IED’s. The best means of
detection is your situational awareness. Examples of indicators,
locations, and considerations of IEDs include:
Primary IED Indicators - The primary
indication of an IED will be a change in the baseline (something new on the
route that was not there the previous day). Vigilant observation for these
subtle indicators can increase the likelihood of IED detection. Some examples
of possible roadside IED indicators may include:
- Unusual behavior patterns or changes in community patterns,
such as noticeably fewer people or vehicles in a normally busy area, open
windows, or the absence of women or children.
Vehicles following a convoy for a long distance and then pulling to the
Personnel on overpasses.
Signals from vehicles or bystanders (flashing headlights).
- People videotaping ordinary activities or military actions.
Enemies using IEDs often document their activities for use as recruitment or
Metallic objects, such as soda cans and cylinders.
- Markers by the side of the road, such as tires, rock piles,
ribbon, or tape that may identify an IED location to the local population or
serve as an aiming reference for the enemy triggering the IED (such as light
poles, fronts or ends of guardrails, and road intersections).
- New or out of place objects in an environment, such as dirt
piles, construction, dead animals, or trash.
- Graffiti symbols or writing on buildings.
- Signs that are newly erected or seem out of place.
- Obstacles in the roadway to channel traffic.
- Exposed antennas, detonating cord, wires, or ordnance.
- Wires laid out in plain site; these may be part of an IED or
designed to draw friendly force attention before detonation of the real IED.
Locations of IEDs - IEDs may be
placed anywhere enough space exists or can be created to hide or disguise the
IED. Whenever possible, devices are located where they can exploit known US
patterns, such as the use of a main supply route, or vulnerabilities, such as
soft-skinned vehicles or chokepoints. Common areas of IED placement may
- Previous IED sites
- Frequently traveled or predictable routes, such as roads
leading to bases and along common patrol routes.
- Boundary turnaround points (pattern).
- Medians, by the roadside (usually within 10 feet), or buried
under the surface of any type of road, often in potholes and covered with dirt
or reheated asphalt.
- Trees, light posts, signs, overpasses, and bridge spans that
- Unattended vehicles, carts, or motorcycles (attached or
installed in them).
- Hidden inside guardrails or under any type of material or
- Potential incident control points (ICPs).
- Abandoned buildings or structures (sometimes partially
- Hidden behind cinder blocks, or piles of sand to direct blast
into the kill zone.
- Animal carcasses and deceased human bodies.
- Fake bodies or scarecrows in coalition uniforms.
- At the edge of town.
Vehicle Borne IED/Suicide VBIED -
VBIED is a parked vehicle in
a high traffic area with the intent of causing the most damage. An SVBIED is
when the driver is willing to give their own life in the process of detonating
his explosives. These are very successful because
the enemy is mobile and is able to choose a time and place with great
flexibility. This unpredictability makes them difficult to identify.
- A lone male driver is the historical standard for VBIED
operations; however, there could be any number of people in the vehicle if an
unsuspecting person is driving the VBIED. Some VBIEDs have two to three people
and females are sometimes used as a distraction.
- Ignoring orders to stop, attempting to circumvent a security
checkpoint, or attempting to maneuver too close to coalition assets.
- Unusual appearance. The enemy may be uncharacteristically
clean-shaven and have very short haircuts. Cutting the hair is part of the
purifying ritual that many follow prior to an attack.
- Age in mid-twenties. The average Middle Eastern suicide
terrorist is about 24-25 years old, but this may vary in each unique situation.
- Driving erratically; driving too slow or too fast.
- Wearing inappropriate dress for the environment.
- Noticeable sagging of the vehicle.
- An additional antenna for radio-controlled devices.
- Darkened or covered windows to conceal either the vehicle's
contents or actions of the driver.
- Recent painting of vehicle to cover body alterations.
- Crudely covered holes made in the vehicle to hide explosives.
- New welding marks.
- No license plates.
- Escorted by unusual security detail for type of vehicle.
- New tires on an old vehicle.
- Anything unusual in factory-build compartments.
- New or shiny bolts and/or screws.
- Unusual scratches, possibly made by screwdrivers, wrenches, or
- Signs of tampering, such as broken parts or bent sheet metal.
- Areas and components cleaner or dirtier than surrounding areas.
- Wire and tape stored in the vehicle.
- Camera crew in the area.
- Observing the same vehicle more than once.
- Absence of normal routine for that Area of Operation (AO).
- Odd traffic patterns.
- Person(s) observed conducing reconnaissance.
- Vehicle testing local defenses (i.e. drives at a high speed
towards traffic control point and then breaks off).
Bombers (personal borne IED-PBIED) - Most suicide
attacks involve SVBIEDs, and include casualty rates from tens to hundreds.
There has been an increasing trend for suicide bombers to attack with an
explosive vest, belt, or baggage. U.S. and Coalition Forces have been attacked
within the perimeter of a base; civilians have been attacked at polling stations
and police recruitment drives. With better techniques being used to reduce the
effectiveness of VBIEDs, the potential for the enemy to adapt to using suicide
PBIED Design - If the charges used
by bombers are effectively packaged and concealed, a suicide bomber could carry
up to 45 pounds of explosives; however, most suicide belts are designed to hold
smaller amounts, up to 12 pounds. It should be noted that fragment producing
materials are often incorporated into the design of these belts/vests.
Indicators of a potential PBIED attack
include individuals who deliberately ignore orders to stop or attempt to
circumvent a security checkpoint, those wearing too much clothing for the
prevailing weather conditions, one with suspicious bulges in his/her clothing,
carrying packages/bags or wearing satchels/backpacks, and an individual handling
wires, switches, an actuator, or a "dead man's" switch.
Techniques - IEDs can be used in a variety of ways.
There are some TTPs that the enemy has used in order to hinder the mobility
efforts of coalition forces, though enemy TTPs constantly change and adapt in an
effort to stay ahead of coalition TTPs. The enemy also incorporates the use of
small arms fire in conjunction with the IED attack to harass forces and increase
the lethality of attacks.
Disguised static IEDs have been concealed with a variety of
things (trash, boxes, tires, etc.) and placed in, on, above, or under where
potential targets appear. Multiple IEDs have also been daisy chained, or linked
together with detonation cord or electrical wire so that all charges detonate
simultaneously, in order to achieve simultaneous explosions.
Thrown or projected IEDs (improvised grenades or mortars) have
also been used against coalition forces. One TTP targets convoys as they drive
under and overpass, attempting to drop IED’s in the back of vehicles as the pass
under. Convoys must be aware of the 360-degree threat
while traveling. Changing speeds and dispersion will help mitigate the threat
to some extent.
Another example of how IEDs have been used is the hoax IED.
These include something that resembles an actual IED, but has no charge or fully
functioning initiator device. A fake IED along a given rout and seen by the
lead vehicle in a convoy will cause the convoy to come to a stop. Stopping for
the hoax IED may leave the convoy in the kill zone of the real thing. Hoax IED’s
are also used to learn coalition procedures, monitor time, delay or harass
activities in support of the mission.
techniques used that are less specific include:
The Basic IED Attack - In the basic
attack, the enemy will place IEDs along routes on either side of the road
awaiting foot patrols or convoys to approach in order to cause the most damage
to personnel or vehicles.
The "Broken-down" Vehicle Attack -
This attack uses a simulated broken down vehicle placed on the side of the road
to cause convoys to change their intended route. The broken down vehicle is
staged along either side of the road, blocking one or all of the trafficable
lanes. This causes the convoy to be directed between the broken down vehicle and
an emplaced IED.
Coordinated Attack - Numerous
enemies work together to emplace and IED along a route, usually in an urban
area. The enemy is usually located where they have the best escape route to not
be seen or caught. Once the IED’s have been detonated, the enemy breaks contact
and blends in with the population.
Ramming Convoys - The enemy has been
known to ram their vehicle (possibly an SVBIED) in the rear of a convoy or to
the side as they pass in order to get the convoy to slow or come to a complete
Motorcycles - Motorcycles are used
by the enemy in areas of decreased mobility in order to harass convoys and
possible throw IEDs or grenades in the rear of vehicles.
OPERATIONS IN AN IED ENVIRONMENT
In order to counter the effects of an IED, there are
several things that can be done. Wearing all personnel protective gear
available, to include ballistic eye protection, Kevlar helmets, body
armor with plates, and hearing protection is the most basic. Other
simple, but critical, force protective measures include wearing
seatbelts when moving and ensuring that all personnel have as much of
their body inside the vehicle as possible to reduce the possibility of
being struck by shrapnel or being exposed to the initial blast.
Pre-movement Rehearsals - Operating
units must be prepared to react quickly and efficiently to any attack. Study
updated maps, as a significant number of IEDs are set up in the exact same
location of previous attacks. Remember that IED attacks may be just one part of
a complex attack. The unit must be prepared to react to any threat after the
IED detonates and move out of the kill zone as quickly as possible.
Patrolling - One of the most
important things you can do to protect yourself and your unit is to limit your
predictability. Vary routes, movement techniques, and your TTPs for dealing
with different situations. Never forget that the enemy is always watching.
Patrols should change direction and speed at seemingly random intervals,
especially in areas of previous IED attacks.
7. TECHNIQUES TO COUNTER
There are certain things every member of the unit can do
to counter specific attacks.
member of the patrol should be alert and constantly aware of the situation
the authorized Escalation of Force (EOF) and Rules of Engagement (ROE).
The actions listed below will help limit your vulnerability in
Counter VBIED/SVBIED Techniques -
The key to surviving a VBIED/SVBIED
attack is standoff and cover. Know that a SVBIED can come from any direction.
Units have been attacked by vehicles turning into a patrol from oncoming
traffic, moving in a convoy, or in firm base attacks. Maintain an aggressive
security posture and have a plan for dealing with civilian traffic. When
dealing with VBIED/SVBIED attacks, it is important to:
- Have a plan to deal with
approaching vehicles. Decide if they will be allowed to pass or not and have a
plan for the EOF.
- Be aware of danger areas/choke
points such as turnoffs that force patrol to slow down.
- Watch merging traffic as VBIEDs
have been used near on and off ramps to get close to coalition vehicles.
Counter Suicide Bomber Techniques
- Evacuate the area immediately. Safe distances will depend on
the mass of explosive carried by the bomber and the amount and type of
- “Close and negotiate” tactics should not be attempted, as
suicide bombers are usually trained to avoid surrender at all costs.
- A “fail safe” cell phone or radio-controlled initiator could be
used in the event that the bomber is incapacitated or hesitates. This tactic
would normally involve a second suspect with a line-of-sight view of the bomber
and should always be considered.
- If a “deadly force” response is taken, bullet impact may
initiate/detonate the explosive charge(s). Firing on the suspect should only be
undertaken from protective cover.
- If the suspect is neutralized and there is no explosion, do not
administer first aid. Wait for EOD to render safe the explosive charge.
Actions at Halts
- If a patrol or convoy must stop during movement avoid clustering vehicles and
vary the vehicle interval between elements; establish your own local security
and employ techniques to create standoff. Most importantly, do not remain at
one site too long and conduct 5 to 25 meter checks as described below.
- 5 to 25
Depending on the length of time of the halt, the area to clear varies from 5 to
25 meters. At every halt, no matter how short, the crew must clear 5 meters
around the vehicle while still inside the vehicle. For extended halts, teams
must clear 25 meters around the patrol or convoy.
5 meter checks:
- Identify a position to halt.
- Visually check the area 5 meters
around your vehicles.
- Look for disturbed earth and
suspicious objects, loose bricks in walls, and security ties on streetlights or
anything out of the ordinary.
- Start your search at ground level
and continue up above head height. Then conduct a physical check for a radius
of 5 meters around your position. Be systematic, take your time, and show
curiosity. If the tactical situation permits, use a white light or infrared (IR)
light at night.
- If in an armored vehicle, remain mounted during your 5 meter
check to take advantage of the vehicle’s protection.
25 meter checks:
- Add to the 5 meter check when the patrol or convoy leader
decides to occupy an area for any length of time.
- Once 5 meter checks are done, continue visually scanning out to
- Conduct a physical search for a radius of 25 meters around your
- Look for IED indicators and anything out of the ordinary.
Actions on Contact - Should you be
part of a patrol or convoy that finds an IED, the five "Cs" will help to ensure
that the situation can be dealt with quickly and safely. Remember, an IED that
is found is still an IED attack. By finding the IED, you have just disrupted
the enemy’s attack. Do not forget about the enemy’s other forms of attack, RPGs,
small arms fire, mortars, and secondary IED. Enemy IED site = Enemy ambush
site. You are in the kill zone!
IED’s Found Before Detonation - A
simple set of guidelines that you should use when you encounter a suspected IED
are the five "Cs":
Confirm - You should always assume
the device will explode at any moment. From a safe distance, look for IED
indicators while attempting to confirm the suspected IED. Use all tools at your
disposal, to include moving to a better vantage point and using optics to look
for tell-tale signs of an IED. Never ask civilians to remove an IED and do not
attempt to do the job of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) or engineers.
Clear - Evacuate the area to a safe
distance (terrain will dictate) but do not set a pattern. Keep in mind some
threats require more standoff than others. Assess whether your distance and
cover is adequate and direct people out of the danger area. Sweep the area for
any secondary devise or trigger person. Once scene is safe, question, search,
and detain as needed. Do not allow anyone to enter your cordon other than those
responsible for rendering the IED safe (EOD).
Call/Check - Let your higher
headquarters know what you have found. When you move to a new location, all
personnel should conduct 5 and 25 meter checks for secondary IEDs. Always
assume a found IED is bait and the real IED is near your “secure” location.
Cordon - Establish blocking
positions to prevent vehicle and foot traffic from approaching the IED.
Establish 360 degree inner and outer cordon to secure and dominate the area.
Most likely, the enemy is watching and waiting to make his move.
Control - Control the area until EOD
arrives. Clear and set up an entry control point (ECP) for first responders.
Do not let others go forward to “inspect” the IED. Make contingency plans for
IED Detonation - Immediate
actions differ when an IED is actually detonated. The enemy may often
combine the IED attack with a direct fire ambush to increase the
lethality of the attack. If an ambush does accompany an IED attack, the
priority shifts to address the direct fire and then conducting the 5
C’s. It is important to keep several things in mind when dealing with
- Respond quickly and aggressively in accordance with ROE
- Immediately scan outward. The biggest mistake Marines can make
is focusing inwards toward the site of the IED detonation and forgetting about
- Move out of kill zone
- Search for additional IED’s
- Treat/Evacuate casualties
- Report situation
- Expect follow on attacks
Chemical IED - Coalition forces have
had several encounters with IEDs also having chemical filler in conjunction with
the explosive. Due to the complexity of manufacturing exact payloads the
chemical effect is difficult to achieve. Units must be aware of the
capabilities, and know what to do in the event of a chemical attack.
upwind, to high ground at least 240 meters away from release point.
- Normal combat uniform provides some protection; individual
protective suits, masks and gloves will provide additional protection.
- Detectors will
but best warning comes from your sense of sight and smell.
What NOT To Do with Suspected IED’s
- Never approach a suspected IED. Establish standoff by using
binoculars and spotting scopes from multiple angles to confirm the presence of
an IED. When in doubt, back off and call EOD.
- Do not pick up det cord. Det cord is an explosive and the
presence of it alone is enough to call EOD. Do not trace or pull on det cord.
- Do not directly trace command wire (CW). The enemy has placed
trip wires and other IEDs under/in the vicinity of command wires. When a
command wire is located, rather than walking parallel to or over the wire to
locate the initiation point, work in an “S” pattern, crossing the CW until the
initiation point is located.
- Do not focus on the “found” IED. An IED, once found, is not
going to move. Conduct secondary sweeps (5 to 25) and set in cordons. Always
think a couple steps ahead and have a plan for any possible encounters that may
arise. Again, once positive IED indicators are found move to safe distances and
MCIP 3-17.01 Improvised Explosive Device Defeat
JIEDDTF 05-23 Joint IED Defeat
Task Force Counter IED TTP
GTA 90-01-001 IED and
Vehicular Borne IED Smart Card
MCWP 3-11.2 Marine Rifle
Rev: Jul 2008
IED Defeat Review
three types of initiating systems found on IED’s.
What is the
primary indication of an IED?
What is a 5
meter check? When is it performed?
five C’s relating to IED defeat.