War on Terrorism

Friday, June 11, 2010

Explosive ordnance Airmen clear the way for Afghan National Army

by Tech. Sgt. Oshawn Jefferson
U.S. Air Forces Central combat camera

6/11/2010 - KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- "Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"

When Staff Sgt. Benjamin Stewart, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, yells these words, it's time for the boom.

Sergeant Stewart and Airmen from the 755th Air Expeditionary Squadron, Operating Location-Bravo EOD are clearing bombs from land near Kandahar Airfield to help make safe a future training site for the Afghan National Army.

"This is a great opportunity to help local citizens, by providing a site for the future training of ANA soldiers," said Tech. Sgt. David Niedzwiadek, a 755th AES OL-B EOD technician. "The more soldiers they have trained, the more Afghans can help themselves. So, the job we're doing is very important to the future of Afghanistan's security."

The bomb-clearing operation known as the "Camp Hero Demining Project" has been ongoing since February.

During that time, eight teams of Afghan deminers working with the Army Corps of Engineers have uncovered more than 500 munitions including M-42 bomblets, 120 mm rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, 105 mm projectiles and 82 mm mortars. Once the Afghan deminers uncover the various munitions, technicians from the 755th OL-B EOD technicians are called in to destroy them.

"This is truly a joint effort between the Afghans and EOD Airmen," said Lee Thompson, an Environmental Chemical Corporation contractor who serves as liaison between the Afghan deminers and the 755th AES OL-Bravo EOD. "The Afghans have been doing a wonderful job finding the munitions, and the EOD comes and does what they do best: blow stuff up. While making stuff blow up is fun, the benefit is a safer future for Afghanistan. They're our ultimate customer."

Using C-4, blasting caps, detonators and receivers, EOD technicians take great care in destroying the munitions. The project not only gives them a chance to help Afghanistan, but they also stay proficient in their job skills.

"This is one of the many jobs we do to contribute to the success of operations in Afghanistan," said Capt. Andrew G. Clemmensen, a 755th AES OL-B EOD technician. "Our guys are clearing roads for Soldiers and Marines, ensuring munitions are disposed of after rocket attacks on base, going on convoys and working with our coalition partners EOD technicians. EOD Airmen are all-in and contributing greatly to (Operation Enduring Freedom)."

During the day, members of the explosive ordnance disposal team spent more than six-hours destroying 32 munitions for their Afghan counterparts, giving them a sense of accomplishment in knowing they are moving the Afghans one step closer to their new training site.

"I love being outside doing this, even though it's a little hot," said Master Sgt. Donald Moore, a 755th AES OL-B EOD technician. "Every day we move closer to a safer and secure Afghanistan. Each boom means they're a step closer to having their training site clear and giving them a chance to train soldiers to help their citizens. Each boom gets us closer to home."

"Time to do it again," Sergeant Niedzwiadek said, while looking at his watch and smiling. "I love this part. Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!"

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