CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were a deadly threat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, causing most casualties in both conflicts. IEDs remain a threat for coalition forces in Iraq and Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.
The U.S. military developed several countermeasures to protect both mounted and dismounted service members from this threat.
Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Warfare (CREW) systems protect by jamming signals that detonate radio-controlled IEDs (RCIEDs). The Duke Version 3 and CREW Vehicle Receiver Jammer vehicle-mounted systems and the Thor III and MODI II dismounted systems have effectively protected service members from the RCIED threat.
Since 2010, an Electronic Warfare Operations (EWO)/CREW system course had been taught by contractors at Camp Buehring. The class was offered to newly arrived units that employ CREW systems in convoys and on patrols. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course has not been taught for 10 months.
“Due to travel restrictions, we were unable to offer the same level of training,” said Capt. Jefferson Wilkes, officer in charge for the U.S. Army Central Command Readiness Training Center (ARTC).
Illinois National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Anthony Meneely and Florida National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Douglas Montgomery are electronic warfare technicians who arrived in theater in April with Task Force Phoenix — a combat aviation brigade responsible for full-spectrum aviation operations for Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve.
Meneely, Montgomery, Sgt. Ismael Pulido, electronic warfare NCO, and Maj. Jeremy Tennent, OIC, make up Task Force Phoenix’s Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities cell. They ensure that friendly radio wave emitting equipment is safe and secure, and they advise the Task Force’s command staff on adversary electromagnetic jamming.
After they arrived in theater, they learned the EWO/CREW class was not being taught.
“This equipment is vital on a contested battlefield where RCIEDs are a threat,” Meneely said. “Soldiers were not getting proper training for the CREW devices for their vehicles that were headed north.”
Meneely and Montgomery had the skills and expertise to teach the class. They contacted Wilkes and Lt. Col. Willard Lund, director of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. Meneely, Montgomery and Tennent offered to update, resume and teach the class.
“They were fully supportive,” Meneely said of Wilkes and Lund. “They’ve been helping us insurmountably with materials, equipment and general support.”
“Chief Meneely, Chief Montgomery and Maj. Tennent identified a training gap along with a resourcing gap,” Wilkes said. “They worked with us to make connections across the AOR (area of responsibility) to stand up a new program. As a result, they were able to update all of the systems and offer training for them.”
Meneely, Montgomery and Pulido, a California National Guard Soldier, welcomed their first class at Camp Buehring July 12. Tennessee National Guard Spc. Curtis Hicks and Staff Sgt. Thomas Daniel, from the 1-181st Field Artillery Battalion, and Virginia National Guard Staff Sgt. Richard Recupero, from the 29th Infantry Division, were the first graduates of the four-day course.
“We taught them the fundamentals of electronic warfare and the 10-level maintainer tasks for CREW systems,” Meneely said. “Upon completion of the school, the CREW maintainers can load, operate, troubleshoot and fix deficiencies in the systems. They will go back to their units responsible for ensuring all their CREW systems will be mission capable.”
Daniel said the course gave him vital training on the CREW systems his battalion employs. “Our security force rolls out with these systems,” he said. “We’ll be in charge of doing the testing and reporting for the systems for the battalion.”
“I think the class went well,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to continually adjust the course and update it based on assessments, feedback and emerging threats.”
Meneely and Montgomery said they will be hosting additional classes as needed for incoming units. They also plan to establish a counter unmanned aerial system academy at Camp Buehring.