War on Terrorism

Saturday, April 17, 2010

EODMU 11 Returns to NAS Whidbey Island

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

April 17, 2010 - OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11 returned home to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, April 12 to 16, from missions in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Djibouti.

Cmdr. Richard Hayes, EODMU 11 commanding officer, assumed command of Combined Joined Task Force (CJTF) Paladin South located at Kandahar Air Base in October 2009. Twenty-five EODMU 11 Sailors spent the past six months with Hayes in Southern Afghanistan and the 360-person force, coordinating command and control of EOD and counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) teams at the heart of the fight in Afghanistan.

EOD and C-IED teams conducted more than 1,122 missions, defeated more than 452 IEDs and disposed of more than 34,825 pounds (net explosive weight) of homemade explosives, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war, removing them from enemy supply lines. They conducted more than 304 route clearance patrols and cleared 8,988 miles along key routes and highways.

"The staff did a lot of hard work over there. Especially the guys that went over to Afghanistan, I think, felt a lot of accomplishment because they were such a big part in the IED role over there and supporting all the EOD techs that were out on the battlefield," said EODMU 11 Command Master Chief (EWS/PJ) Stacey McClain. "They saved countless lives. There's really no way to put a number on how many lives their contributions actually saved for the guys out in the field, but it's definitely really an accomplishment."

CJTF Paladin-South developed target packages and intelligence profiles that assisted in identifying and removing critical personnel from the IED network. They managed and maintained more than 5,000 vehicle and personnel-borne electronic warfare systems for U.S. and Coalition Forces, significantly decreasing the enemy's ability to remotely initiate IEDs.

Teams provided mission-essential C-IED training to more than 8,000 Coalition and Afghan Forces throughout the region and established training programs for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) so they could locate, identify and react to IEDs on the battlefield, inevitably saving thousands of ANSF and citizens subjected to this threat on a daily basis.

"The partnering is huge; the only way we're going to get out of there is by getting the partnering going and let them take over their own country," said McClain.

"They're getting better. The guys are brand new and just getting them established and getting them trained is pretty tough, but they're working it."

EODMU 11 was relieved in place by EODMU 5, from Guam, at a turnover of authority ceremony, April 10.

Two EODMU 11 platoons supported missions in Bahrain, Kuwait and Djibouti for Coalition Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Mobile Diving and Salvage (EOD/MDS) forces. The eight-member units employed their expertise in C-IED, counter explosive hazards, underwater mine countermeasures and underwater search, salvage and obstacle clearance to achieve unimpeded movement of combat forces and protection of coalition and civilian lives.

In Bahrain, the EOD Platoon 11-1-2 supported the Central Command EOD and Mine Countermeasures task groups in local and regional response missions. They also conducted eight separate exercises with partner nations in the Arabian Gulf, six dives to greater than 230 feet in the Mk-16 Mod 1 underwater breathing apparatus, and four Sailors completed qualifications to become master EOD technicians.

"Since the war is on land now, one of the skill sets that has suffered is diving, so this was a good deployment for these guys and we got a lot of the young guys trained up in that mission area," said McClain.

"Water is definitely our cup of tea, naturally, we're in the Navy. Since the start of the war we've all been more groundcentric; we've been getting away from our roots and mine counter-measure operations," said Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EWS/FPJ) Troy Wold, a leading chief petty officer with Platoon 11-1-1, of New Orleans, La. "It's definitely a good thing because it's going to come back around one day, so to get that rotation to keep everyone proficient in all the aspects of the job is good."

In Kuwait and Djibouti, the 13-man EOD Platoon 11-1-1 supported both Central Command and African Command in anti-terrorism/force protection diving missions for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army's major embarkation/debarkation sea ports. They safely executed more than 500 dives, three humanitarian demining action missions, two integration exercises with regional partners and disposed of more than 50,000 pounds retrograde demolition and ordnance.

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