By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Scott Bigley
MAGAMAGA, Uganda — Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 are in Magamaga, Uganda, from October 2019 to September 2020 to train members of the Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) on proper munition disposal procedures and techniques.
The 11-month effort is designed to facilitate a training course for Ugandan EOD technicians on conventional munitions disposal (CMD) and improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) techniques and procedures.
“The threat of improvised explosive devices (IED) is steadily increasing across the continent of Africa,” said Cmdr. Chad Houllis, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) Africa Counter-IED Fusion Center lead. “The UPDF is experiencing the IED threat firsthand in their very important support to the African Union Mission in Somalia. The aim in providing security force assistance is to enhance the capability of the already strong and capable UPDF to better mitigate the threat of IEDs in Somalia.”
During the training, two groups of approximately 30 UPDF soldiers will receive about 20 weeks of training each. The curriculum, taught by the EOD technicians from EODMU 8, is the first use of this material in Africa and is part of a larger effort by the United Nations (UN) to establish explosive hazard awareness and IED disposal standards for nations that provide support to peacekeeping missions.
“Throughout the course, we are utilizing United Nation IED disposal standards to help in the later certification of the Ugandan EOD soldiers,” said Lt. j.g. Samuel Stearney, platoon commander for EODMU 8. “These Ugandan EOD techs will be enabled to go out and continue the peacekeeping support missions in Africa.”
The course is designed to build upon the students’ existing knowledge and enables the participants to progress to the next certification level for both UN conventional munition disposal and IED disposal certification levels.
The UN certification levels progress in a linear fashion:
- CMD 1 – the ability to identify unexploded, conventional munitions and then dispose of the threat without touching or moving it, typically by blowing-in-place the device.
- IEDD Basic – the ability to identify an unexploded IED and then dispose of the threat without touching or moving it, typically by blowing-in-place the device.
- CMD 2 – allows the technician the ability to remotely move the unexploded, conventional munitions to ensure the safety of people and property within the potential blasting and fragmentation range.
- IEDD Assistant – allows the technician the ability to prepare IEDD equipment and explosive tools to combat an IED and deploy tools with the supervision of an IEDD Advanced or Intermediate team leader.
- CMD 3 – allows the technician the ability to perform render safe procedures on unexploded, conventional munitions.
- IEDD Intermediate – allows the technician the ability to conduct task management and execute plans to combat IEDs and classifies the technician as a team leader.
“Our goal is to enhance the skills of the Ugandan EOD soldiers to a certification of CMD 3 and IEDD Intermediate level of the UN standards,” said Stearney. “We want to create a self-sustaining force that can help support our mutual efforts in Africa.”
Upon completion, each of the Ugandan EOD technicians will receive standardized documentation signifying the modules taught and the recommend certifications levels for their UN qualifications.
“The Navy’s participation in mobile training team events, like this counter-IED course in Uganda, enhances our professional relationships and increases our interoperability with allies and partner militaries,” said Houllis.
Completion of this course represents a solid foundation for the operators to continue a career within the EOD field.
“Navy EOD has long been considered a high demand/low density force,” said Houllis. “Navy EOD operators perform a wide variety of missions worldwide and their demand exceeds the number of forces available. In missions like this one in Uganda, it is always impressive to see what a significant impact three to four people can make.”
Navy Expeditionary Combat Forces Europe-Africa/Task Force 68, which includes EODMU 8, is responsible for providing explosive ordnance disposal operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts to U.S. 6th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa.