U.S. NAVY CWO EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL (EOD) TECHNICIAN SOFT EPAULETS

The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians working with Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) on land-based missions have a heavy responsibility to ensure the safety of all personnel, and it starts the moment any type of explosive device is detected. During the Global War on Terror, especially in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the most common threats are Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Complicating the threat of IEDs is the fact they can be deployed in stationary vehicles (VBIED, or Vehicle-Borne IED) or vehicles driven toward the intended target (Suicide VBIED), or as clothing or under the clothing of an enemy (PBIED, or Person-Borne IED).

Before EOD Technicians can even begin the process of disabling or disposing of the explosive device, they first must instruct team members how far away they should evacuate from the device’s location. Ranges vary based on the type and weight of the explosive material, and are of necessity mere estimates. Facing a pipe bomb with the explosive equivalent of five pounds of TNT, for instance, requires sheltering inside a building at least 70 feet away; that increases to over 800 feet when outside and not in a shelter. The distances change when the IED is made of a butane or propane tank and the threat is a fireball.

But as many EOD Sailors will attest, the IED that’s been found isn’t the biggest danger. The presence of a single IED not only is a good indicator there might be more in the vicinity, but also that enemy forces may be watching nearby. That might be there to manually detonate the IED; they could be planning an assault in the aftermath of an IED detonation; or they might use the halt in a unit’s movement, likely in an exposed area, to launch an attack while the EOD process is taking place.

Making things even more nerve-wracking is the threat of SVBIEDs and PBVIEDs. In an operational environment, the temptation to fire upon an unauthorized vehicle or person approaching your position is extremely tempting, but miscommunications are possible in many of these areas, and the blowback from firing upon misguided civilians is substantial. These and a multitude of other factors make the jobs of EOD Technicians some of the most nerve-wracking and highly demanding in the Navy.

Important: Due to the extremely low demand on this item, it is manufactured on order. While we might have some in stock, please allow for up to 10 business days processing time.
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