Explosive Ordnance Technicians (EOD) often find themselves on the front lines of the Global War on Terror, often working closely with Special Warfare Operators—more commonly called SEALs—in areas where both conventional ordnance and Improvised Explosive Devices have been deployed by the enemy.
At other times, however, they must deal with consequences of conflicts that ended long ago.
The United States Government estimates that are between 60 to 70 million landmines around the world, many of them deadly legacies from wars that fought years or even decades ago. In 2003, the State Department created the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, which incorporated the mine- and weapons-removal duties of several other agencies under one roof. It now coordinates U.S. efforts as part of the Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Program, and the Navy’s EOD Sailors—particularly those serving in Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Units (EODMU)—play a critical role in helping EOD technicians from war-torn nations not only master their skills, but also to pass them on to a new cadre of bomb- and mine-removal experts.
Africa was the focus of the HMA Program in 2013, and EOD Sailors led the way with a three-week “Train the Trainer” program conducted in Kenya during in January and February. Held at the Humanitarian Peace Support School in Nairobi, the program was conducted by Sailors serving in Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six (EODMU 6) in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, who sought to give Kenya EOD soldiers expertise they could pass along to other members of their units. EODMU 6 deployed from Virginia Beach, Virginia to conduct the training.
In April and May, technicians serving in Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit Eight (EODMU 8) focused on the training of civilians in Mozambique as part of the HMA. Over the course of nearly three weeks, Platoon 811 worked closely with ten local mine-disposal technicians in demining techniques, namely how manually remove and then destroy ERWs, or Explosive Remnants of War. It marked the fifth time that EODMU 8, which is based at Naval Station Rota Spain, had worked in support of HMA efforts in Mozambique.
And in September, EODMU 6 journeyed to Burundi to take part in another three-week HMA exercise. The training gave EOD Sailors the opportunity to pass along their knowledge of reconnoitering for and locating unexploded ordnance, demolition procedures, and proper storage and handling.
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