Everybody is E.O.D.

A shortage of Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts in Iraq means that engineers and infantry often end up tackling Improvised Explosive Devices themselves.marcbot.jpgNew equipment including tougher vehicles and simple ground robots make this possible, as I explain in an article in the April National Defense Magazine:Armored vehicles originally designed to clear mines are used to sweep roads of bombs. Patrols travel inside the protective bubbles of sophisticated radio jammers that intercept the signals that detonate explosives. And engineers are refining the use of small ground robots to identify and destroy IEDs.Read the entire article here.-- David AxeUPDATE 9:49 AM: Noah here. As you can imagine, the guys who spend a year training to become bomb squad technicians aren't exactly thrilled by the newbies who think they handle their jobs, just because of a few new toys. This isn't just a matter of guarding turf (although there is some of that, for sure). There's a pretty major safety issue involved here, too.Quick example: a group of combat engineers near Baghdad were all fired up about their new, bomb-grabbing Buffalo armored vehicle, which they used to sift through roadside junk piles for IEDs. These guys would dig up an explosive with the Buffalo's spindly claw. And then, they'd be so proud of what they found, they'd want to snap a quick picture of their prize. So they'd use the claw to bring the bomb right up to the Buffalo's cab. And then, the IED would go off. A bad thing, of course. And the kind of thing that happens when folks aren't properly trained in bomb-handling._41479260_group_pa203_300.jpgUPDATE 10:07 AM: Of course, being an EOD pro doesn't make you bomb-proof. In an incident I barely missed, UK Captain Peter Norton lost a leg and part of an arm to an IED. Yesterday, he was awarded one of the British military's highest honors, the George Cross. Only 21 others have received it since 1945. His citation reads, in part:

"Captain Norton was the second-in-command of the US Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC) based in the outskirts of Baghdad. The unit has been in the forefront of counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) operations and is plays a vital role in the collection and analysis of weapons intelligence.At 1917 hours on 24 July 2005, a three vehicle patrol from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Regiment of the Georgia National Guard was attacked by a massive command initiated IED in the Al Bayaa district near Baghdad. The ensuing explosion resulted in the complete destruction of a 'Humvee' patrol vehicle and the deaths of four US personnel. Due to the significance of the attack, a team from CEXC, commanded by Captain Norton, was tasked immediately to the scene. On arrival, Captain Norton was faced with a scene of carnage and the inevitable confusion which is present in the aftermath of such an incident. He quickly took charge and ensured the safety of all the coalition forces present. A short while later he was briefed that a possible command wire had been spotted in the vicinity of the explosion site. With a complete understanding of the potential hazard to himself and knowing that the insurgents had used secondary devices before in the particularly dangerous part of Iraq, Captain Norton instructed his team and the US forces present in the area to remain with their vehicle while he alone went forward to confirm whether a command wire IED was present.A short while later, an explosion occurred and Captain Norton sustained a traumatic amputation of his left leg and suffered serious blast and fragmentation injuries to his right leg, arms and lower abdomen. When his team came forward to render first aid, he was conscious, lucid and most concerned regarding their safety. He had correctly deduced that he had stepped on a victim operated IED and there was a high probability that further devices were present. Before allowing them to render first aid, he instructed his team on which areas were safe and where they could move. Despite having sustained grievous injuries he remained in command and coolly directed the follow-up actions. It is typical of the man that he ignored his injuries and regarded the safety of his men a paramount as they administered life saving first aid to him. It is of note that a further device was found less than ten metres away and rendered safe the following day. Captain Norton's prescience and clear orders in the most difficult circumstances undoubtedly prevented further serious injury or loss of life.
(Big ups: JQP, LB)
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