By Lt. j.g. Benjamin Bear - Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2
April 9, 2010 - NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 40 Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12 returned to Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB LC-FS) Little Creek-Fort Story April 8, after a six-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During their deployment, EODMU 12 Sailors responded to more than 380 improvised explosive device (IED) calls and disposed of more than 6,500 items of potentially hazardous unexploded ordnance, which contributed to the safety of U.S. service members and Iraqi citizens.
Cmdr. Chris Merwin, commanding officer of EODMU-12, classified this deployment to Iraq as unique from the others the members has previously experienced.
"It was an honor to have been a part of this team, and I am extremely proud of the performance of each of these Sailors," said Merwin. "Our focus was largely on helping prepare the Iraqi forces to conduct independent counter-IED operations and take charge of their own security. In addition to partnership, these men and women were still going in harm's way daily in order to ensure the safety and security of both U.S. forces and the Iraqi populace. Their motivation, professionalism and enthusiasm throughout this deployment were inspiring, and I would gladly take them all back out again."
While deployed, EODMU-12 Sailors made up the headquarters and the majority of the operational forces of Joint Task Force Troy-North, a specialized team of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel responsible for neutralizing threats from IEDs and conventional ordnance. They were also responsible for collecting and exploiting weapons technical intelligence to defeat terrorist networks and providing materiel solutions to protect U.S. and coalition forces.
The EODMU-12 headquarters element, which was augmented by personnel from EOD Group 2 and EOD Expeditionary Support Unit 2, was based at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, approximately 90 miles north of Baghdad. From the COB, it exercised command and control functions for all joint-service EOD teams operating in the U.S. Division North area of responsibility. Individual units of action were dispersed throughout northern Iraq, supporting the needs of tactical commanders attached and assigned to the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division.
Additionally, these men and women partnered daily with Iraqi army and police EOD units, providing assistance, advice and training on bomb disposal procedures, site exploitation and evidence handling. Their efforts were instrumental in developing the capability Iraqi security forces need to operate independently and secure the nation as U.S. forces draw down.
EODMU-12, homeported at JEB LC-FS, was established Jan. 10, 2008 as the first EOD mobile unit specifically created with the necessary structure to deploy as a single unit, with both the headquarters element and EOD platoons deploying together.
This homecoming marks the successful completion of the unit's second deployment, having previously served a five-month operational tour as part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Forces Central, based in Bahrain.
The Navy has been deploying EOD platoons in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom since 2001, and has been deploying mobile units as command and control elements since 2006.