Story and photo by
Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
BELLOWS AIR FORCE STATION — Terrorists are indiscriminate; they will attack and kill any race, gender or religion that doesn’t tie-in or conform to their way of thinking.
Terrorists are everywhere, from the mountains of Afghanistan to our back door.
For this reason, the team at the Asian Pacific Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Fusion Center, here, works diligently with U.S. forces and partner nations to save the lives of civilians and military forces around the world.
“This training saves lives every day,” said Col. Geoffrey Stevens, director for the Asian Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center. “We’re all about shaping the environment and making it safer – for not just our forces, but for partner forces, as well.”
Recently, the center received a guest from a partner nation hoping to learn more about IED threats and ways to prevent attacks on his people. Lt. Gen. Nurmantyo Gatot, commanding general for the Indonesian army’s Training and Documentation Command, was very interested in what the center had to offer because of the extensive IED problem in his country.
“Many people don’t realize that IEDs don’t just occur in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Stevens. “There are more than 100 IEDs that go off per month in the Asian-Pacific region, so there is a real need for the training here.”
Gatot visited to look at the capability of the center, and also to highlight what Bellows has to offer, said Justin Valenti, event coordinator and current operations specialist for the Asian Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center.
“We train roughly 8,000 military members a year and more than 2,000 foreign troops,” said Valenti. “We do partner engagements, called subject matter expert exchanges, where we work with foreign nations. We show them the knowledge and capabilities we have dealing with countering IED threats. That is what this visit is today.”
The center seeks to make more realistic training for deploying Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, by taking up-to-date intelligence and fusing it into their training lanes. Trainers from the Marine Corps Infantry Immersion Trainer increase the realism by employing foreign actors to work in their training lanes.
People from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other foreign nations come to fill the “town” at the center and add realism and flavor to an already tough training simulation.
“They get to see the ‘no-kidding’ IEDs and what they look like, so they are better prepared when they deploy,” said Stevens. “The realism in the training, not only in making the IEDs look exactly like they are going to look like downrange, but also digging them into the ground and employing them the same way, helps the troops alert to those threats downrange.”
When foreign leaders visit, the team at the Asian Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center work hard to demonstrate their capabilities and let them know that the U.S. is a partner nation.
“I hope they take away from this our tactics and techniques, but also I hope they learn that we’re here and want to reach out and help them,” Stevens said. “It’s all about partnership here and working together for the greater good. We look forward to the opportunity to share what we know. U.S. forces have spent a lot of money, done a lot of hard work and saved a lot of lives over the years.”
And saving lives is the main objective, Valenti added.
“The great team working here at the Asian Pacific Counter-IED Fusion Center helps save lives every day,” said Valenti.