In a world where roughly half of the population measures itself in levels of testosterone, a group of military professionals rests comfortably in the top tier. They are the IED hunters.
Like firefighters run toward the fire while everyone else is running away, the IED hunters seek out Improvised Explosive Devices, the very things the rest of the force is trained to avoid.
What is it in a warrior’s character that allows him to enter the “death zone” willingly, relentlessly searching for devices specifically designed to kill him? What kind of ice water flows through his veins that keeps him clear-headed enough in such an environment to apply advanced algorithms, protocol and procedures to increase his chances of finding one?
I can’t imagine. But every day, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen are out there, hunting and diffusing bombs. Every mission has the potential to take a devastating toll on the team…not just from the IEDs themselves, but also from the threat of insurgent attacks. But they persist – patrolling the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan with unblinking eyes.
And they are very good. One IED hunter told Marine Corps News that they, “…have gotten to the point where they can pretty much identify the type of IED they discover before explosive ordnance disposal technicians move in to remove the hazard.” (Marine Corps News) They can recognize the tells, and react quickly and efficiently to eliminate the threats. They have even learned how to get inside the dark minds of the insurgents, interrupting their decision loops, sometimes arriving while the bombs are being planted.
They use weird vehicles to do their jobs, with unfamiliar names like Buffalo, Meerkat, Husky and Cougar, but their mission is straightforward: find the IEDs and remove them. Risk your lives to save others.
They are tough, they are disciplined, and they are cooly efficient.
The IED hunters are our heroes of the week.