BANURANSGRI CAMP, Ratchaburi, Kingdom of Thailand --
BANURANSGRI CAMP, Ratchaburi, Kingdom of Thailand – A team consisting of U.S. Marine Corps combat engineers and a Navy corpsman with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group conducted Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) trainingfrom Jan. 2 to Feb. 9, 2020.
The training, led by U.S. and Thai instructors, consisted of formal classroom instruction and practical application training on technical and non-technical surveys, handheld mine detectors and demining casualty care to demining students with the Royal Thai Armed Forces.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Gabriel Green, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the 9th ESB HMA team, said they had worked alongside service members with the Thailand Mine Action Centre (TMAC).
“We are partnered with TMAC, which is the national authority for land release and demining operations in Thailand,” said Green. “Our training course and curriculum is heavily focused on technical and non-technical surveys, as well as landmine casualty care and handheld metal detector operations.”
During non-technical surveys, deminers will travel to locations that may contain mines to conduct interviews with locals in order to gather information about the area. If the area is deemed contaminated, deminers will cordon off a perimeter and conduct a technical survey. In a technical survey, deminers will physically examine the minefield to define the hazards, find the unexploded ordnance and then remove the explosives.
“Small teams go out to possibly affected areas or even confirmed affected areas to conduct a survey that will more clearly define what the actual threat in that area is, including the type of mines, size of the affected area and local features,” said Green. “Remnants of war, remnants of battle and past military conflicts have left countless numbers of explosive hazards that are still where they landed or placed decades ago that are a threat to innocent people and animals.”
Green noted that all of the participating Royal Thai Armed Forces students come from different Humanitarian Mine Action Units (HMAU) across the Kingdom of Thailand. After the students graduate the course, they go back to their units and conduct demining operations in areas known to have active landmines and explosive hazard threats.
In the course, the students are evaluated by written and performance based exams on the technical information and skills that were taught. The HMA instructors require the students to pass each exam with an 85% or higher to advance in the course.
“Working with our Thai counterparts has been truly amazing,” said Green. “The Thai instructors, many which were former students from previous years, exponentially increased our ability to pass on knowledge, in a safe and effective way. [The U.S.-Thai Instructor team] really made this course possible. When we leave here, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we made a difference in peoples’ lives.”