By WO Trent Hiscock
12 April 2010
When CWO Joe Ramsay told me that the Regiment had the opportunity to send a member to Washington DC to attend a conference on IEDs, (Improvised Explosive Devices), I jumped at the chance as the saying goes I was “in like a dirty shirt. At the conference which was called Hunting IEDs, the main focus was how Canada and its Allies would share information on IEDs in order to learn from each others successes. Over the pass few years IEDs have become the number one killer of Coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The keynote speaker was Lieutenant-General Michael Oates, Director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) of which Canada, Australia, UK and the USA are a part of. The main message of his speech was that we as allied countries must defeat this threat. He sees us doing this in two main ways. The first being continuation of sharing information on IEDs. The second, which is the most important, that we must ensure that all of our personnel are trained in the latest procedures to counter the IED threat, rather than centralized to just a few specialists as IEDs proliferate throughout the world.
During the conference the lightweight IED hunting Robot Dragon Runner was introduced. The operators demonstrated the robot’s agility by driving it over a number of obstacles including going up and down stairs. Under the guidance of the operator I was given the chance to use this new device. I found that with its 6 remote cameras, responsive controls and different mission configurations, it is very user friendly. Canada is currently working to purchasing a few of these new tools and hopefully we will see them at the front lines soon.
After the symposium I had the chance to take in the local sights of Washington. It would take weeks to see all the sights so I prioritized my choices and visited the Korean War Memorial. While there are a good number of memorials in Washington this one is to all the Korean War Veterans including Canadians. There are 19 slightly larger than life stainless steel soldiers walking towards the East. To their right is an approximately 8 foot high black granite wall. In the sun the 19 stainless steel soldiers reflect a ghostly image in the black granite for a total of 38 soldiers. These 38 soldiers reflect the 38th parallel the border between North and South Korea.
One of the lasting memories from this trip was I had the honour and privilege to have dinner with about 30 American Wounded Warriors and their families. To hear their stories and to see their positive outlook despite their injures, some fairly severe, was very uplifting.
The next symposium is in Ottawa, and if the CO needs a volunteer he knows were to look.
By WO Trent Hiscock