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Soldiers certify to combat radio-controlled explosive devices

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POSTED: July 18, 2014 6:30 p.m.
Photos by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor/ 4th IBCT, 3rd ID public affairs/

Staff Sgt. Michael Fernandez, center right, the electronic warfare specialist for 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, observes 3rd ID soldiers who train on the Baldr, an electronic-warfare system used during dismounted operations to defeat radio-controlled improvised explosive devices.

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Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division recently enhanced their capabilities to combat threats from radio-controlled explosive devices, which are used to harm service members.
Ten soldiers completed the division’s Counter-Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare Specialist Certification, or CREW course, on July 11 on Fort Stewart. The newly certified soldiers work at the company and platoon levels, where there is no electronic-warfare specialist assigned.
Four electronic warfare noncommissioned officers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team led the 40-hour course, which included training on the Thor III, Duke V3 and the Baldr, CREW systems currently used in Afghanistan to help keep service members safe during convoys and security patrols.
“The instructors have been awesome,” said Sgt. Justin McEwen, a cavalry scout with Troop B, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th IBCT. “Any questions, they’ve been able to answer right on the spot, and if they didn’t know the answer … they had the material here (available).”
The course covered how to operate, troubleshoot and maintain the three systems.
“They are the main systems that we use when we touch down in theater,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Fernandez, one of the instructors and the electronic warfare specialist for 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT. “We always have to have these systems in play when we are outside the wire.”
“Electronic warfare is so demanding, and it changes every day,” said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Bennett, an electronic warfare noncommissioned officer for the 4th IBCT.
Bennett, a native of Rome, Georgia, emphasized the importance of the training and the electronic-warfare mission.
“We need the battalion electronic warfare NCOs to push harder to their commanders the need for these CREW specialists,” he said.
“These are the guys who are going to be doing the majority of the work downrange and keeping their guys safe when they are doing missions,” Bennett added.
McEwen, a native of Yadkinville, North Carolina, elaborated on the importance of the CREW course.
“It’s going to give us the capability within the platoon and company level to be able to troubleshoot and help fix our own CREW systems,” he said.
The electronic-warfare systems use electronic frequencies to defeat radio-controlled improvised explosive devices.
McEwen, who’s used the system before in Afghanistan, said he looks forward to training his soldiers to troubleshoot and maintain the system because the training he received during the course would help them in combat.
“It’s one of those systems that you don’t really know its effectiveness until you come to this class,” he added.
Fernandez, a San Antonio native, said electronic warfare is a big part of the mission in Afghanistan.
“What we are doing now as a brigade, we are actually trying to get ahead,” he added. “I think 4th Brigade is definitely on top of it.”

 

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